Albert Camus and Community: #gov20 and #opengov as Rebellion or Revolution?

Government 2.0 as Rebellion or Revolution?

Government 2.0 as Rebellion or Revolution?

I am re-reading, again, Albert Camus’ The Rebel“.  I’m packing it with me during the next month or so of travel to many corners of the world.  Strangely, I find solace and hope in a man’s thoughts who are sometimes seen as critical of meaning in life, and I concur with others who say he is deeply hopeful and celebratory of happiness and joy.

At the same time I am reading “The Art of Community” by Jono Bacon.  The connections are interesting and as many of you know, I do find compelling meaning in connections from different authors across multiple time periods.  This is one such case for Camus, Bacon and our Government 2.0 Community.

Camus makes an interesting point about rebellion and revolution in the book.  I am not sure I completely agree with his conclusions, but his analysis is interesting when you think about the current debates about Government 2.0.  His point, at least one of them, is that rebellion is an act that does not necessarily have an end goal in mind but is rather an act of passion built up after living in an unacceptable condition for a long period of time.  He points to slavery and ultimate rebellion as an example.  At the point of initial rebellion the activity is a reaction to unjust activity that had been tolerated for too long and as such is absolute and filled with emotion.  While ultimately this becomes an absolute position, it starts with a spark of highly emotional retort.  Which is where I find our Government 2.0 movement today.

He juxtaposes rebellion with revolution.  He places calculated planning and goal orientation squarely on the revolutionary and notably absent from the rebel.  His point about revolution always leading to tyranny is connected to the times in which he wrote.  I am not certain I subscribe to his conclusions but they are worth consideration as we start to deal with the concerns that our movement has no concrete goals, KPIs, measurement or end state.  While the rebellion cannot have a connection to its end state, revolutions do.  Revolutions are meant to replace dominant paradigms, not simply rebel against them.  We certainly need to protect against the potential of tyranny as part of our goal set, but the mood of the community right now seems to be turning toward a need for more ultimate structure, so that we know when we have won (we will see the artifacts we desire – Government as a Platform).

So, what is the connection between Camus and Bacon?  Good question…

In “The Art of Community”, Bacon pens a great point, “There is an important connection here in which imagination and opportunity are close friends.  Imagination offers the mind a vision of how things could be.  If there is a viable path toward this future, we build a sense of opportunity.  If there is no viable path, we enter the world of fantasy.”  I see our current endeavors dominated by imagination.  Folks creating the new world in their heads and talking about it.  Painting incredible pictures of what we could accomplish.  The opportunity side of things is starting to spring up now too, which is great.  As part of that cycle some will succeed, some will fail, at exploiting that opportunity.  We need to be accepting of that cycle and continue to be accepting of both our imagineers and our opportunity seekers as both are necessary to create a true open government revolution instead of simple rebellion.  As some of us paint the picture of the future, others must *show* that there is  viable path.

This is the resolution of the “too much talk, not enough doing” challenge we have been discussing.  We need to have both.  Don’t get me wrong, I do favor the doing side myself (a la Cypherpunks Write Code).  But I deeply understand, respect, and, when I give speeches, channel the imagination side of things.  If we embrace both, we will succeed in building the foundations of a great and global society.  If we fail, it may only be fantasy.

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Matt Miszewski has been a leader of incredible teams, that accomplished unbelievable goals - together. From rebuilding an enterprise technology strategy from the ground up as Chief Information Officer of the State of Wisconsin to driving a struggling global sales and marketing team to live beyond their potential and helping take their stock from $45/sh to over $110/sh, I have been honored to take on huge challenges and beat them by building collaborative and high performing teams. I was proud to be a regular speaker on Digital Realty's earnings call each quarter and being able to brief and advise the Board of Directors each quarter. Focusing on our shareholders needs while coupling that focus with the needs of our top customers was the combination the street was searching for and our increase in equity value proves the effort worthwhile. Our focus on total leasing costs, net present value of long term leases, closing the gap on cash performance and elimination of stagnant inventory helped to drive a stalled stock. Most proud of standing up a revenue engine that will be used for decades including a renewed global salesforce, inside sales expertise, demand generation focus, new global Partners and Alliances program, sales operations team and a heightened focus on connecting lead development to sales outcomes (including a new social marketing program, AR/PR, digital presence, brand identity refresh, SEO/SEM and a regular campaigning process). Combining decades of technology leadership with this commercial success creates an incredible package to unleash revenue and hack growth for companies from any industry out there.

12 Responses to “Albert Camus and Community: #gov20 and #opengov as Rebellion or Revolution?”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Justin Herman and Joanna M. Champagne, mattmiszewski. mattmiszewski said: Albert Camus and Community: #gov20 and #opengov as Rebellion or Revolution? [...]

  2. Interesting points you raise. I am also in the middle of the Art of Community (quite enjoying it, and its relevance to the crowdsourcing community we’re looking at with LinkedGov), though I have to admit I haven’t read Camus since college. But I see the relevance, and I like the way you lay out the parallels between those books and our efforts now to create a movement (ultimately changing the relationship between government and the citizen).

    It’s funny that you mention Camus… For the first time in ages, I’m going back to the literature, the history and the principles of leadership I gathered in my liberal arts education. My father gave me Plain, Honest Men (by Richard Beeman – amusingly, no relation), which details the Continental Congress and the environment that the founding fathers created in order to establish a consensus for that new government. In reading it, I’ve found myself picking up some wonderful tips for LinkedGov. To namea one: sometimes debate needs to happen behind closed doors, which allows people the freedom to try out opinions they may later change or reject. (In other words, sometimes, 24-hour media coverage isn’t helpful!) As we’re heading towards adopting and setting a lot of standards, the freedom to create the very best ones may be critical to achieving our ultimate goals.

    I’ve been marvelling at the lessons I’m finding in unlikely places. From this post, it would appear that you are doing the same. Though it’s been years since I last studied French lit, I just may go back to Camus. Thanks for the tip!

  3. MikeThompson says:

    great post as usual!

  4. [...] Albert Camus and Community: #gov20 and #opengov as Rebellion or Revolution? [...]

  5. Open Government TV supports a new revolution to reduce the rebellion and divide to advance innovations, partnerships and collaborations among large, mid, and small businesses. We believe that the results of these collaborations will bring about an improved economy, less political divide.

    Let’s call a meeting.

  6. On a barely related note, we’ve got democracy breaking out all over the place here in beautiful British Columbia, with both major parties holding leadership races, a referendum coming up, and a recall campaign running. None of the five declared candidates for the ruling Liberal party is touching #gov20 and #opengov with a ten foot poll (ha, freudian slip), despite some data showing that candidates who embrace aforementioned do better. My theory is that Wikileaks is largely responsible, but you’re putting your finger on it nicely here, democratic politicians aren’t big on rebellion or revolution, unsurprisingly.

    It’s like they say about Christianity: the biggest problem with #Gov20 is its followers. Rarely have I seen such enormous opportunity so fraught with danger. With seven out of every three #Gov20 evangelists being to the left of Trotsky and sincerely believing that leaking any and all government information is cool, one can hardly blame politicians for not embracing such a humongous heatscore. Speaking of revolution and paraphrasing Lenin, the #Gov20 masses will not, in my opinion, rise above an immature rebellion for rebellion’s sake consciousness if left to their own devices; I propose that a cadre of professional adults infiltrate and overthrow the movement’s leadership, acting as a vanguard (not unlike the Bolshevik one) to lead the movement and save it from itself. I’m speaking mostly tongue in cheek and insufficiently caffeinated, but there you have it.

    • Matt says:


      I love uncaffeinated posts, they are usually the most brutally honest.

      I have made the argument before that for any of this to work we must become post-political, or omni-political. I believe that #gov20 will serve best the party in opposition regardless of political affiliation. If Labor is in power, the conservatives should embrace. The same goes the other way around. The movement is about change of the status quo, not specific policy related outcomes. So the left can embrace it to clean up the environment. The right can embrace it to grow their economy. (not to oversimplify the political dialogue there, all of my business friends on the left can stand down now :) ).

      This should not be a movement about ends but rather about efficient means. Waste on poorly thought our digital plans stops both left wing radicals and right wing fundamentalists equally. We need to approach gov20 as a way for duly elected and appointed leaders to fulfill their promises, not necessarily to advocated for specific policy outcomes.

  7. David Gale says:

    I see a more natural affinity between Gov 2.0 and Chaos Theory. Certainly, with the lack of focus on giving individuals control of their personal data and even less focus on controlling who sees it, the human race, as part of a 21st century Gold Rush, is headed for the Wild Frontier armed with little more than ear plugs and a blindfold. Unless some semblance of architected order is brought into play, one wonders if the world wide web will reach melt-down just as soon as the markets realise than not every land grab is going to deliver a sustainable margin.

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