Along with all the other 2020 Summiteers I was given homework to complete by yesterday afternoon. We had to answer two questions:
1. Provide a 100 word description of an idea that you think will make a difference to your stream topic (in my case ‘the future of Australian governance’.2. Write 100 words on an issue on which you have changed your mind, and explain why.
I hope John Hartigan and Maxine McKew are more forgiving than my highschool teachers, because as usual I got enthusiastic and went over the word limit! Anyway, here’s my response. By no means my only change of mind, or the most important idea, but it’s a start. Feedback and additions welcome.
Wide-ranging reforms to the way that government owned or government-funded information is made available to the public, based on the following principles:
Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities
Kate Lundy’s local pre-summit on open technology and digital knowledge(see also this write-up of the event, which noted that the Deputy Vice Chancellor of ANU, Professor Lawrence Cram, “warned that the Australian public is losing access to university research done in tandem with industry due to a legal framework which is failing to protect open access to information.”)
An ambitious definition of open government data, which came out of a meeting of members of the Open Government Working Group.
Proceedings of the recent Open Access to Public Information Seminar hosted by the Office of Spatial Data Management
The Policy Framework for New Zealand Government-Held Information
I used to ascribe much of the short-termism of successive Australian governments to capture by vested interests or self-serving electioneering, and thought that if we could just get a more ethical mob elected, or strengthen our existing checks and balances, then that would be enough to get governments to tackle long-term problems like environmental deterioration or intergenerational poverty. Having realised that short-termism is also endemic in the business and non-government sectors, that it is a vulnerability of even the most public-spirited and accountable governments, and that behavioural economists have found a strong tendency for individuals to unreasonably ‘discount’ the future consequences of current actions, I’m now convinced that short-termism is pretty much a universal human trait. This has given me a strong interest in ways of institutionalising long-sightedness – in government but also in business and civil society.
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