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Improving Civic intelligence 
Repairing the Engine on a Moving Car? 
Douglas Schuler 
The Evergreen State College 
The Pub...
[contents] 
• Purpose and Disclaimer 
• An outlandish supposition… 
• More civic intelligence 
• Barriers to civic intelli...
Purpose and Disclaimer 
My focus will be on the open society, citizen-oriented 
perspective — which of course must interfa...
An outlandish supposition… 
SUPPOSE that humankind had the capability to 
address its own problems effectively and equitab...
Maybe civic intelligence is impossible? Or maybe it’s just nearly impossible. 
Barriers to civic intelligence* 
• The magn...
More thoughts on civic intelligence 
[operational definition] Imagine two cities or regions with approximately the same 
c...
Civic intelligence 
capabilities Knowledge 
Relational Capital 
Organizational Capital 
Attitudes and Aspirations 
Attitud...
Government & e-government 
Government can be seen in two ways depending on how one views the 
role of people: as customers...
How could we begin to assess the civic intelligence of a city? 
Proposed proxy measures 
• Responsive government 
• Knowle...
Civic intelligence development* 
1. Critique or question the status quo — even if the critique or question is flawed — 
an...
Changing roles 
We need to take our roles seriously — not just the formalistic processes, rules, 
and conventions, but the...
Citizen involvement 
For the citizen: get smart, act like a citizen; be careful, be realistic, but be 
bold. 
The informed...
Going forward... 
The future can't be planned in exhaustive and accurate detail. There are 
too many unknowns, too many mo...
Thanks for listening 
I’m looking forward to continuing this discussion 
Douglas Schuler 
douglas@publicsphereproject.org ...
Appendix 1 
Questions for further study 
What is the “car?” 
Why is it “moving?” 
Who’s driving? 
Where is the car going? ...
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These are the slides from my keynote presentation at the recent Conference, Electronic Governance and Open Society: Challenges in Eurasia (EGOSE 2014), in St. Petersburg, Russia. Bottom line: There is a LOT to be done — and government, e- or not, can't do it without citizens.

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Improving Civic Intelligence: Repairing the Engine on a Moving Car?

  1. 1. Improving Civic intelligence Repairing the Engine on a Moving Car? Douglas Schuler The Evergreen State College The Public Sphere Project EGOSE 2014, November 19, 2014 St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
  2. 2. [contents] • Purpose and Disclaimer • An outlandish supposition… • More civic intelligence • Barriers to civic intelligence • Government & e-government • Nine proxy measures • Stages of civic intelligence development • Changing roles • Civic involvement • Conclusions
  3. 3. Purpose and Disclaimer My focus will be on the open society, citizen-oriented perspective — which of course must interface with government. My hope is to explore the possible. I’m trying to be a little provocative with this talk — so I beg your indulgence. My goals are presenting the idea / framework of civic intelligence (which I’d like to see as an explicit objective in e-governance) and exploring with you now and in the future. Hopefully at least some of what I say will seem reasonable!
  4. 4. An outlandish supposition… SUPPOSE that humankind had the capability to address its own problems effectively and equitably. If that were true, we could make neighborhoods safer and governments more responsible, create good jobs for everybody, address global warming, and even stop or limit war. We'll call that elusive and potentially useful capability civic intelligence. (And it’s not binary — it’s not something that a group has or doesn’t have.)
  5. 5. Maybe civic intelligence is impossible? Or maybe it’s just nearly impossible. Barriers to civic intelligence* • The magnitude of the problems we face (that are extremely complex, intransigent, durable, reliable, seemingly impervious to reform and eternal) • Personal and social impairments (including lack of knowledge, time, interest, social networks aren’t interested) • Institutional impairments (silos, opacity, arrogance, corruption, bureaucracy, lack of purpose — or the wrong one) • Professional disassemblers (who intentionally sow ignorance) • Confidence in our inability to take care of ourselves — note the various ways that this is demonstrated. * And civic intelligence isn’t just about overcoming our barriers.
  6. 6. More thoughts on civic intelligence [operational definition] Imagine two cities or regions with approximately the same characteristics and challenges. If one successfully addresses its challenges — and one does not, we can probably assert that one has more civic intelligence than the other. Centralia, Washington Everett, Washington Civic intelligence takes different forms in different places — but all of the places are ultimately connected. Civic intelligence can improve — or degrade — and some of this is under our control. Civic intelligence can be used to inspire research and to inspire people. The goal is to understand and to improve civic intelligence. Unfortunately our challenges may be growing faster than our ability to address them.
  7. 7. Civic intelligence capabilities Knowledge Relational Capital Organizational Capital Attitudes and Aspirations Attitudes and Aspirations Financial and Material Resources { Knowledge Relational Capital Organizational Capital Financial and Material Resources {
  8. 8. Government & e-government Government can be seen in two ways depending on how one views the role of people: as customers or as citizens. “Smart cities” generally privilege the customer role. Government “efficiency” is only a (small?) part of governance. Currently there is worldwide discontent with government. Charles Lindblom stated (1990) that, “no society or subgroup within it ever designed a state or government to make it an effective instrument of social problem solving.” One of the goals of government should be enabling and encouraging public problem solving — and increasing civic intelligence. Governance needs active citizens because government can’t address the challenges we face without them. • The problems are too big • Citizens have useful skills and other resources • In many cases government enabled (or, even caused) the problems in the first place.
  9. 9. How could we begin to assess the civic intelligence of a city? Proposed proxy measures • Responsive government • Knowledge about the environment — natural and otherwise • Social (political, educational, cultural) engagement • Social capital • Health and well-being • Opportunities — economic and other • Relative equality of inhabitants • Transparency/lack of corruption • Good neighbor (doesn’t take more than it needs; or export its problems…)
  10. 10. Civic intelligence development* 1. Critique or question the status quo — even if the critique or question is flawed — and don't stop this process after identifying some preliminary hypotheses 2. Learning — necessary at all stages of the process; without this we are immobilized 3. Transparency — people need to understand how things work 4. Inclusiveness — we need not to just hear the unheard voices, they must be integrated into the decision-making 5. Networking — connections outside the community being looked at 6. Cultural shift — from power politics to problem solving 7. Governance sharing — not just government "efficiency" and/or citizen "autonomy" * Proposed elements
  11. 11. Changing roles We need to take our roles seriously — not just the formalistic processes, rules, and conventions, but the philosophical rationale as well: Why does this role exist in the first place. We must pivot from the general way of doing business to new ones. For government, open up data and dialog — but be careful! You may uncover a hornet's nest of citizens with longterm unmet & unrecognized grievances. Also: • starting dialogues with citizen and community groups and exploring new collaborations. (And not just online) • Open up government data for the world to use. • Offer activism classes; it may be counter-intuitive or even contrary to the usual norms, but at least think about it. For academia: teach civic skills and the other elements of civic intelligence, knowledge is only part of what citizens need to learn. For the media: cover the unheard voices, unpack issues and open up questions — and don't just supply "easy answers", and try, if possible, to rely less on the spectacle and conventional wisdom.
  12. 12. Citizen involvement For the citizen: get smart, act like a citizen; be careful, be realistic, but be bold. The informed contribution of citizens in an indispensable element of governance. Citizen engagement ideally provides both impetus for social change when it’s needed and a bulwark against tyranny and oppression when that becomes necessary. With strong, engaged citizenry we may be able to address our problems. Without strong, engaged citizenry we won’t be able to address our problems.
  13. 13. Going forward... The future can't be planned in exhaustive and accurate detail. There are too many unknowns, too many moving unpredictable parts. On the other hand, intelligent action always involves taking action in an uncertain world. Changing our thoughts and actions in the "moving car" which is our current reality, will take courage — as well as care. We head into this struggle with uncertain goals, flawed and inadequate resources, dissension within our ranks, disorganization and unruliness, against incredibly strong barriers. In some sense this struggle is a struggle for common sense and sanity. It shouldn't be as hard as it's likely to be. Repairing the engine on a moving car would certainly be child's play in comparison to the real tasks before us.
  14. 14. Thanks for listening I’m looking forward to continuing this discussion Douglas Schuler douglas@publicsphereproject.org The Evergreen State College The Public Sphere Project
  15. 15. Appendix 1 Questions for further study What is the “car?” Why is it “moving?” Who’s driving? Where is the car going? Where are we trying to go? Why can’t we just get out? What “repairs” are we talking about? Why can’t we just stop it and fix it? Can we have our drivers license taken away?

These are the slides from my keynote presentation at the recent Conference, Electronic Governance and Open Society: Challenges in Eurasia (EGOSE 2014), in St. Petersburg, Russia. Bottom line: There is a LOT to be done — and government, e- or not, can't do it without citizens.

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