Government âof the people, by the people, for the peopleâ expresses an ideal that resonates in all democracies. Yet poll after poll reveals deep distrust of institutions that seem to have left âthe peopleâ out of the governing equation. Government bureaucracies that are supposed to solve critical problems on their own are a troublesome outgrowth of the professionalization of public life in the industrial age. They are especially ill-suited to confronting todayâs complex challenges.
Offering a far-reaching program for innovation, Smart Citizens, Smarter State suggests that public decisionmaking could be more effective and legitimate if government were smarterâif our institutions knew how to use technology to leverage citizensâ expertise. Just as individuals use only part of their brainpower to solve most problems, governing institutions make far too little use of the skills and experience of those inside and outside of government with scientific credentials, practical skills, and ground-level street smarts. New toolsâwhat Beth Simone Noveck calls technologies of expertiseâare making it possible to match the supply of citizen expertise to the demand for it in government.
Drawing on a wide range of academic disciplines and practical examples from her work as an adviser to governments on institutional innovation, Noveck explores how to create more open and collaborative institutions. In so doing, she puts forward a profound new vision for participatory democracy rooted not in the paltry act of occasional voting or the serendipity of crowdsourcing but in peopleâs knowledge and know-how.