I found this idea (like many others) through the very well informed Dave Briggs.
- Whilst the whole Gov 2.0 thing (i.e. 'government as a platform') is borne out of web 2.0 technologies, the concept should be applied to government as a whole - not just the techy bits
- Once the basic platform is provided (in the right way) then the market will innovate and provide applications - just in the same way that Apple provided a small number of applications for the iPhone but the market soon came up with many, many, many more
- The Apple example also highlights the importance of being willing to strip away anything that isn't working or relevant. The basic government platform should, in the same way, be simple, well designed, functional and appealing.
- Central government provides the operating system / platform. It provides the core constitution for each local democratic unit. It sets out how the core processes will work (the same in every area) and it employs the people that support the core functions (legal, finance, ICT, etc etc). Central government is just like Apple.
- The applications are provided mainly by the market. Delib provides an example of the sort of company that might do this from a web 2.0 perspective - I'm sure there are many others. Budget consultation and online participation are the sort of 'software' apps we are talking about here but any democratic innovation whether representative or participative, whether online or off could be on the menu. One advantage is that highly specialised companies could develop these tools in national markets in a way that local governments acting alone never could.
- The user is the elected government of the local area. The user is not (as you might expect) the citizen. For the metaphor to work the iPolis (like the iPad/iPhone) can only really have one user - the local government. The accountability of that government to the citizens can work in any way and ultimately the citizens are the beneficiaries. But the user is the final decision maker about which apps to use and what apps can be afforded - hence it is the local government.