Themes to watch in 2011: E-democracy in Brazil

As Nat Torkington put it this morning at O’Reilly Radar, “people who consider tech trends without considering social trends are betting on the atom bomb without considering the Summer of Love.” Torkington was annotating a link to 2011 predictions and prognostications at venture capitalist Fred Wilson’s blog which center on the following presentation that Paul Kedrosky sent him from JWT, a marketing agency.

JWT’s thirteenth prediction will be of particular interest to readers of this blog: “Brazil as E-Leader.”

This digitally savvy, economically vibrant country will prove to be an e-leader. Social media is more popular here than in developed markets, and Brazil has the highest Twitter penetration (23 percent, as of October ComScore figures). PC penetration has reached 32 percent, and many Internet cafes further broaden access. Mobile subscriptions have 86% penetration. Already Brazil is ahead in electronic democracy (with innovations like online town halls and crowd-sourced legislative consulting), and its 2010 census was paperless, conducted electronically.

There are many other themes that will matter to the Gov 2.0 world in 2011 in there, including smart infrastructure investment, scanning everything, home energy monitors, and mHealth. Heck, seemingly mobile everything. Of course, as Mike Loukelides pointed out in his own watchlist of 2011 themes to track, “you don’t get any points for predicting ‘Mobile is going to be big in 2011.'” He thinks that Hadoop, real-time data, the rise of the GPU, the return of P2P, social ubiquity and a new definition for privacy will all play important roles in 2011. Good bets.

JWT does get points for this set of trends, however, and that prediction about e-democracy in Brazil strikes me as apt. Last year at the International Open Government Data Conference, I met Cristiano Ferri Faria, project manager in e-democracy and legislative intelligence at the Brazilian House of Representatives. Faria talked about his work on e-Democracia, a major electronic lawmaking program in Brazil since 2008. As the 112th United States House of Representatives goes back to work today, there are definitely a few things its legislators, aides and staffers might learn from far south of the border. You can download his presentation as a PDF from Data.gov or view it below, with an added bonus: reflections on open government data in New Zealand and Australia.

One caution: Faria concluded that “this kind of practice is too complex” and that e-Democracia “needs a long-term approach.”

Looks like they’re still in an e-government in beta down there too.

Iogdc 2010 Day1 Plenary

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.

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