Naming an Emerging Movement

There’s a movement going on around the world.

We don’t have a name for it, though.

Gov2.0, e-gov, e-democracy, open gov–these are all names that get applied to what is happening. And they are great for describing a certain aspect of this movement, the aspect that actually deals with government.

What’s really going on right now is much bigger than that. Open gov is a big part of the story, but not the whole story. On top of Open Gov, there are organizations like The Open Planning Project (TOPP), or Front Seat, or my own DIYcity, working alongside these open gov groups, trying to make the whole civic system work better. Or there is Robin Chase, CEO of GoLoco and founder of ZipCar, singlehandedly trying to reinvent the way transportation works in cities. Or there is the subway alert I just got in my inbox, courtesy of New York City’s MTA, notifying me that the F train has delays due to mechanical problems. All of these entities–TOPP, Front Seat et al, plus the open gov groups–are interrelated, and together create a new, emerging ecosystem of information, user activity, and possibility. But that ecosystem doesn’t fit neatly under the hood of “Gov 2.0” or any of the other “gov” labels.

Recalling my post last week about the four pillars of an open civic system, these “gov” names–e-gov, gov2.0, open gov–focus on the G2C aspect of what is going on, to the exclusion of the other aspects of this open civic system that is emerging.

And this new civic system should have a name, because it is a real ecosystem. It is also a movement, with more and more people focusing on it around the world every day. It is also increasingly becoming an industry.

So what do we call this new thing?

What do we say when we want to say to someone, “All of the stuff that is emerging right now in the civic space that helps communities operate better, both with and without direct or indirect involvement on the part of the government?”

I was talking with Micah Sifry, co-host of this week’s Personal Democracy Forum, a while back, and he suggested the name “civic software” for the apps that come out of this space. Riffing off that, I have been talking about the “open civic system.” Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, who recently posted on this movement, thinks that name is too long, but also thinks “civic software” doesn’t quite do it justice.

So I thought I would open up a thread here on Radar for a discussion:

What should this new space be called?

Let me know what you think. All ideas are welcome…

tags: ,