Beyond Tech: Policymaking in a Digital Age
Jennifer Pahlka

Thank you for writing about this topic! We need more discussions surrounding the expansion of user-centered science into the social and political realms. This method pioneered by the tech industry is by no means exclusive to it — we’re in the midst of an institutional revolution through which design thinking and user data will surmount as the most prevalent and successful form of resolving long withstanding societal problems.

Democracy in its current state is at war between ideological divides and private interests without the ability to move fast, test, and iterate on policy. By increasing democratic efficiency through a scientific approach, we can hopefully optimize democracy by uncovering problems, defining goals, and measuring success to produce tangible value for all citizens.

Although Code for America is surely moving in this direction, we must first understand and further define the purpose of government in the digital age and cannot be afraid of disrupting legacy processes. While the user-centered method applied within the technology space acknowledges that not *every* user’s desires can be addressed and implemented, public policy cannot afford such luxury. Policy must serve the best interest of every individual in society, and therefore presents a rather large obstacle for this approach to address.

In order to truly implement and redesign a user-centered government, we must first break away from neoliberal policymaking and dismantle the grasp of big business to leverage government as a true service to the people. If we can somehow overcome this feat, then we are on the verge of a new form of democratic society!