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AU: Gruen warns of growing participation divide
Source: governmentnews.com.au
Source Date: Thursday, September 16, 2010
Focus: Citizens’ Service Delivery
Created: Sep 17, 2010

Governments are facing an online equality problem which favours those who are more active participants online, the former chair of the Government 2.0 Taskforce has said.

In a panel discussion at the Smart Government 2010 conference in Melbourne, CEO OF Lateral Economics, Nicholas Gruen, warned that as well as a digital divide, Australia faced a growing "participation partition" that favoured those who were more engaged online.

“The world is leaning towards favouring those who participate,” he said.

“They have more fun and more influence. If you participate more in your local school and local democracy, you’re going to have more say and more power.

“I see these things as very healthy, but there isn’t an equality of outcomes for everyone.”

Mr Gruen’s Gov 2.0 Taskforce advised government bodies to engage more online, and encourage employees to experiment with social networking.

But despite a declaration of Open Government, few people within government were prepared to engage online.

“We’ve now got 20 government blogs, that’s a great start. What we don’t have is people participating on blogs,” Mr Gruen said.

“I’m not suggesting they should be making controversial comments, but just be a member of a group of people talking about policy issues."

Mr Gruen added that there were more benefits to sharing information than keeping it private.

“Some of the expertise in the public sector can be dispersed on blogs to the benefit of eachother... and if you are participating you get a lot back.”
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