Well said. I agree. A few IMHO thoughts come to mind:
- Every 10 years or so, some writer declares “the novel is dead.” A bit debate over the novel erupts, then dies down and thousands of new novels are published each year and millions bought and read. I think the notion that civic hacking is passe is of the same ilk. It is not going away. Why? See 2.
- Civic hacking occurs because of the technology — which is here to stay. We need civic hackers because government and life runs on systems that are not perfectly open, accessible, and comprehendible to everyone. In the 19th century, hardly anyone had access to copies of the state constitutions. A fellow named Perley did the hard work to acquire copies and then repackage them in a single volume that he printed and marketed. Being able to see other states’ constitutions strengthened citizens’ ability to think critically about their own constitution. Civic hacking then and now connects people to information.
- So, yes, civic hacking can sometimes solve problems. But I would argue that problem solving is not its first task. Rather, I see it as a space between the holders of data and power and everyone else. Civic hackers help the latter access and comprehend the data so that the people can work toward solutions. In a mass democratic republic, that’s a very important role.