The new-new thing at EdgeRyders is that map. We’re building a map of what’s going on, where the sites and stories are which show the new peeking through the cracks in the old, where the action is.
You can sign up to edit the map. That’s actually pretty bold – we’re crowdsourcing a map of the New Europe and, indeed, the New World, and it’s a government-funded project.
Remarkable, isn’t it?
I’ve been rattling on a lot about EdgeRyders, trying to get people to participate, for a while. It’s hard to actually convey why it’s important, why it’s got to work, but I think I’ve figured out how to make the case in a new way.
EdgeRyders is an example of Government acting the way we’d like them to act. It should be encouraged.
The team are… well, I’m one of them. Alberto’s in the Italian Chumbawamba. Nadia brings an arc welding rig to lunch. Hubsters, anarchists, Candian-French, East European, of the system, in the system, anti-system all working side-by-side because…
And this is the part I haven’t been able to articulate until now…
Because the government of Europe is doing some of the things we always wanted government to do.
Imagine if the UK government had an official project to showcase and highlight the best and most interesting “new mainstream” (as Dougald Hine would call it.) Compare EdgeRyders to the NESTA list of Britain’s New Radicals, a hackneyed collection of genuinely interesting people chosen in the most boring possible way: “selected by a panel of expert judges”. The NESTA 50 is the self-replicating nature of the British establishment made manifest, old-establishment figures picking new-establishment figures, passing the torch of blessed authority and screening out anything that was too radical, didn’t look good, or would have made it too hard to get the blessing of their political leadership. Here’s the EdgeRyders coverage of Romanian anti-ACTA protests – on a Council of Europe funded web site, by god. Radicals?
This EdgeRyders thing is genuinely good work done by a government body. This is what I mean about “government acting the way we want it to act.”
But it’s a small project, it’s a tentative first step, but it’s important. A clear win will result in more of this kind of genuinely communicative, collaborative engagement. A middling result may result in same-old-same-old for the next five years, until another breakthrough occurs.
So I’m asking for a bit of civic engagement here. We’re all so used to crap government efforts online, with vague, half-hearted attempts to connect and understand what’s happening in the real world, with projects run by people who don’t give a damn.
This EdgeRyders business is different. It’s sort of like an Official Superstruct, an in-house Urgent Evoke – it’s a State-level actor waking up and saying “Internet? That’s where the cool people are?”
To make the point that we’re here and we’re willing to play, to make it clearly and unambiguously, to show support for the concept of open government collaboration at the European level, we need about ten times the amount of engagement we have now by the end of the project. If we had about 10,000 users, about the same size as Superstruct or Urgent Evoke, there would be another, and another, and another, and we might have found a way of getting our collective voice into play at the Council of Europe and beyond, in a fully internet-native way.
Ask not what the Internet can do for Europe, but what Europe can do for the Internet
To get there, what we need is democratic engagement outside of the voting booth – this is a chance to engage with government on our own ground, to tell our stories, to make examples known, to highlight resources – to shape the discourse, to make our voices heard.