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Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government
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Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  485 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
A rallying cry for revolutionizing democracy in the digital age, "Citizenville "reveals how ordinary Americans can reshape their government for the better. Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California, argues that today's government is stuck in the last century while--in both the private sector and our personal lives--absolutely everything else has changed. The expl ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published February 7th 2013 by Penguin Press
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David Sasaki
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
There's not much I can add to the reviews of Citizenville by Beth Noveck, Evgeny Morozov, Sara Lai Stirland, and Lydia Depillis.

Yes, the book is disjointed, incessantly optimistic, shameless in its namedropping, and often reads like a politician's stump speech on repeat. Readers must endure bombastic, tired declarations like:

The revolution is happening now, and the world is changing too quickly for government to respond with tiny, incremental changes. It is time to radically rethink the relatio
This is not an entertaining read. It is dry and uninteresting, but still is pertinent. The book is filled with stories of how certain local governments have learned to use the social media and technology available to move toward a transparent government and society. The major issue I see is the loss of privacy. Not only is big brother watching your every move....a bit of drama here.....but all of your neighbors, family, friends, the IRS, and all law enforcement can also have access to informatio ...more
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and valid points, but written from the standpoint of a politician, some of the arguments fell flat.
Brian O'Callaghan
Predictably disappointing. (So why did I read it? Because I wanted to contrast it with Evgeny Morozov's book.)

This book is chock-full of half-baked ideas, Newspeak, strawman arguments, and too many unexamined assumptions.

In the few instances he finally gets down to a real-world examples of how he has used new technologies in governance, he admits that some serious drawbacks and limitations. This is where the book should have gotten interesting. Instead he just moves on to the topic and assures t
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
Gavin Newsome is an entrepreneur, former Mayor of San Francisco, Lieutenant Governor of California, and, apparently, one heckuva tech evangelist. In this book, he argues that our government needs to make more of an effort to get our apathetic citizenry involved in government. And the best way to do that is through more comprehensive use of technology.

Throughout the book, Newsom obtains insight from tech evangelists who have implemented programs and ideas, both successful and failed, that were us
Carlien Roodink
Gavin Newsom is lieutenant governor of California and a former mayor of San Francisco. And for me, as Newsom is probably running for governor of California, there is reason to be skeptical about his book Citizenville. Isn’t it just a way to get a stage for his campaign?

What pleads for him is that Newsom is very abundant in dropping names and is transparent about the fact that a greater part of the ideas described are not his own. Newsom’s book is inspired by the earlier work of authors like Gove
Dr. Lloyd E. Campbell
This book is written by the Lieutenant Governor of California, I say that because while I was reading it I kept telling myself, what the Hell is he doing now in relationship to the ideas in this book? I think Jerry Brown swallowed him. Are Lieutenant Governors like Vice Presidents? Does Jerry Brown have to die before we get to see what this guy can do?
His record as mayor of San Francisco is so strong, maybe he should go back to being mayor. One of the inferences I made from reading the book is
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I, as my four star rating would suggest, really liked this book. Newsom presents a lot of interesting thoughts about the intersection of government and ubiquitous technology, and what that could mean for the future of our country. The ideas and examples discussed throughout the book are empowering and point toward a possible future defined by increased civic engagement, strong sense of community, and a new definition for and appreciation of our commonwealth.

The book is not without its problems.
Keith Swenson
Very interesting and well written book. I work, professionally, in the collaboration software space. What Gavin Newsome has proposed is very good, straightforward, common-sense advice. This book coming from a technologist in the space might be considered boring, but coming from a politician makes it more important. The book impressed me -- he knows what he is doing.

I gave it three stars because it is a good book, but (for me) not particularly groundbreaking. I don't want anyone to be turned off
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically reads like a, I'm a high-tech populist, vote for me! piece of propaganda, but interesting nonetheless. I'm skeptical about a few of his arguments, but it's a page turner and a light and interesting read. The people he interviews offer great ideas and anecdotes, so I liked it more for the subjects than necessarily for him. I'm seeing him talk about it on Thursday so we'll see how that complements the book
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure exactly how I'll rejuvenate the agency I work for, but this book motivates me to look at my role as a Federal Employee a bit differently. EPA is certainly taking steps to enter the modern age, but also struggles with a management-heavy structure, a regulatory framework for its mission, outdated systems, and a long-entrenched workforce. Hopefully more government employees will read this book and get inspired!
David Luna
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arguably the best and most important book I will read all year. As someone who loves technology and change this book is perfect for me. I am starting a project and this is exactly what I needed to motivate me. I will now take the next steps forward in creating something that will give people a voice.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This man has no ideas. Most of the problems addressed in here are superficial (littering?) and the solutions to combat them are likewise uncompelling and mostly lifted from other sources with no real changes (granted, Newsom is very open about his unimaginative borrowing). It bums me out that this guy is seen as a creditable candidate for Governor of California, when there are sooooo many more interesting, actually progressive people in this state.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Light weight read and boring.
Janet Ritter
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By Gavin Newsom. Read in 2013? 2014? Great book. Such a progressive mayor willing to try new ideas to see their effectiveness on the city's citizenry.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great new perspectives on how to incorporate tech into government.
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. I was seriously floored by it. It's been a long time since I've been so completely engrossed by and unable to put down a nonfiction book the way I was with this one. For anyone who is frustrated with the way our government is currently operating and feels as if government representatives are drifting farther and farther away from the people they are supposed to represent (so... for anyone), this book is just what the doctor ordered. Reading this book filled me with a new co ...more
The book opens with Newsom, then mayor of San Francisco, meeting with Toomas Hendrik Ilves, president of Estonia. Newsom is attempting to impress Ilves with details of some of the recent technology initiatives they've instituted, and is surprised to discover that Estonia has already had these things (and many more besides) for a long time. “Americans tend to think of San Francisco as Tomorrowland, on the cutting edge of technology in government, but in fact, we were years behind”, he realises.

Paul Signorelli
One of the sweetest moments in what is a wonderful paean to community, collaboration, and the technology that can help foster those two critically important elements of civilization comes when Gavin Newsom, in the acknowledgment section at the end of the book he has written with Lisa Dickey ("Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government"), offers "thanks to all government workers whose work directly and indirectly impacts all our lives each and every day...." Citizen ...more
Kim Olson
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a clarion call for anyone who wants to make change in their community but is frustrated by government sluggishness. Essentially, Newsom believes that social media and other digital tools can be used to transform government, just as they've transformed nearly every other part of our lives.

I love that this book was written not by some Silicon Valley wunderkind, but by someone who's actually been in the trenches. Newsom has worked in government at the local and state level, and he kno
Kevin Valliere
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, mostly because it provided a different perspective on so-called "disruption," especially as it pertains to technology and government. Gavin Newsom was able to bring in legitimized experiences and thoughts to the discussion and they were more useful than the rampant speculation I feel I'm used to.

It's funny, too, how this book seemed slightly outdated in just a few spots (there were whole discussions on the implications of games like FarmVille and Angry Birds) even tho
Tina Hsu
May 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
There are a lot of good ideas in this book about how technology can change how government interacts with people. There's also an interesting take on privacy - that privacy is a relatively new thing for civilization. Only for the last 100 years, when people moved into cities, have people had any real privacy at all. In the past, when people lived in small villages, everyone knew everyone else's business.

Today's younger generation doesn't really care about privacy so much. They've grown up with t
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
At first, I worried about the earnest premise of Citizenville but it quickly convinced me of its seriousness. Gavin Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco and lieutenant governor of California believes that governments – and his did – can improve services by entering the digital spaces where citizens live and play. Coming from the Darwinian world of California politics, Newsom doesn’t have some wish-list of how tech-savvy citizens can help governments. Instead, he looks at what works. San Franc ...more
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
I was torn on this book. I started out skeptical: of course Newsom would write this sort of book. What's his next step politically? And yes, if you have heard him speak, this book is a long-form version of his pitch. Names are dropped. It's techno-populism. We are all in this together and we can do it!

And yet, about halfway through, I caught myself thinking about that American Studies degree of mine. The one I haven't used much since going into business. And then I started thinking about whether
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Citizenville, it says, updates the commonwealth notion of a township, a place where we all know and tolerate each other and come together for the common good. Newsom writes that government is stuck in the twentieth century. How Did We Get Here?, the first chapter, traces the impact of large-scale bureaucracy, and, for example, describes the dysfunctional US Senate as "a museum piece."

Estonia came out of the 1991 Soviet breakup. Starting from scratch without a legacy system in place, the country
Chris Aylott
Oh, I'm torn on this book. Former San Francisco mayor (and current California Lieutenant Governor) Newsom is a bright guy who embraces technology and seems to have walked the walk in using it to improve the process of government. On the other hand, he seems relentlessly naive about the special interests who have every reason to block the changes he wants to see.

There are lots of good ideas here, mostly centered on unlocking the data that the government is already collecting and storing, then us
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to give this book a 3.5 but I rounded up rather than down.

I'm going to become a US citizen soon after living here for 14 years so this book was a very timely read for me in terms of upping my level of education about government in the States. It's an well researched, quick paced inspiring read, it's full of positivity, ideas and it is very much pro. collaboration.

I have to nitpick on the name dropping bit about Facebook and George Clooney however. It really lowered the tone of t
Dorothy Smock
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I checked this book out from the library and liked it so much I ordered the hard copy. If I could work my kindle better, I would have ordered it for that.

If you are completely discouraged with how our government works at all levels, this is the book for you. The hope lies with the under 30 crowd and the over 30 people who are willing to embrace technology. Newsom shows how easy it is to solve many problems by simply making the data available.

One of his observations is that most of the people in
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In his book Citizenville: How to take the town square digital and reinvent government, Gavin Newsom, argues that the technology currently employed by local, state, and federal government is woefully archaic. In order to create a more transparent, efficient, and citizen-centric democracy, the former mayor of San Francisco believes we must leverage technology such as Facebook, Twitter, and mobile phone apps. While I agree with much of what Newsom has to say, I believe he does not adequately addres ...more
Dennis W
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book truly resonated with me. I've worked for the government for more than 20 years and I have witnessed first hand how the pace of technology is leaving government in the dust. No matter the politics of the author, this book makes a case for why our government needs to become part of the digital age and also provides concrete examples of how we can affect that change. For goodness sake, it is 2013! Interacting with our government through digital means should be second nature. I hope mo ...more
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Gavin Christopher Newsom is an American politician. He is the 49th and current Lieutenant Governor of California, after being elected in 2010. In 2003, he was elected the 42nd Mayor of San Francisco, the city's youngest in 100 years. Newsom was re-elected in 2007 with 72 percent of the vote. In 2010, a Samepoint study named Newsom the Most Social Mayor in America's largest 100 cities.
More about Gavin Newsom...
“Failure isn't something to be embarassed about; it's just proof that you're pushing your limits, trying new things, daring to innovate.” 2 likes
“The jobs in the greatest demand in the future don't yet exist and will require workers to use technologies that have not yet been invented to solve problems that we don't yet even know are problems.” 1 likes
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