The Age of Transparency

Personal Democracy Forum co-founder and editor Micah Sifry recently explored the larger context behind the WikiLeaks controversy in his book WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency released last month.

Despite featuring WikiLeaks in its title, the book does not serve as a comprehensive discussion of the controversy and its leader Julian Assange. Nor does it investigate how WikiLeaks impacts the future of political privacy or secrecy.

Instead, Sifry places the WikiLeaks controversy in the context of a greater movement to increase both government transparency and accountability:

I have conceived of this book as a report from the trenches where a wide array of small-d democracy and transparency activists are hard at work using new tools and methods to open up powerful institutions and make the more accountable, and to situate WikiLeaks in that movement.

Described as one of his favorite 'collaborative democracy-opening projects,' SeeClickFix has emerged as part of Sifry's so-called 'global transparency movement': is an American start-up launched by Ben Berkowitz, a native of New Haven, who wanted a way to ensure that when he reported to the city that some graffiti needed cleaning, his complaint didn't disappear down a bureaucratic black hole. The site--which is similar in some ways to mySociety's FixMyStreet--enables anyone with a phone or a web connection to report nonemergency issues in their communities, which get placed on a local map with a time stamp and room for comments. The reports are transparent and searchable online, which gives everyone--neighborhood groups, elected officials, and government service providers--the ability to see what issues are festering, thus creating an incentive to resolve them more effectively [...]
On Monday, The Guardian published an adapted essay of the book, which summarized this new 'we-government' and listed SeeClickFix as an archetypal example of it!
Want to learn more about WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency? Click here!