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Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government Hardcover – February 7, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Newsom is essentially calling for a complete redesign of the system that dictates how government handles information, and he has specific ideas on how to achieve such a transformation… A passionate and well-reasoned argument for a new style of government that would treat the citizenry not just as spectators but as collaborators.”
--Booklist (starred)


"The book remains fresh and lively with Newsom emerging as a persuasive, if fast-talking, progressive proponent focused on how best to 'radically rethink the relationship between citizens and government'... Empowering, motivating."
--Kirkus

“Gavin Newsom is a clear-eyed public servant who has never been satisfied with the status quo. Citizenville makes a fascinating case for a more engaged government, transformed to meet the challenges and possibilities of the 21st century, and where technology brings the critical tools of our democracy closer to its citizens than ever before.”
--President William J. Clinton

Gavin Newsom is helping to lead a new generation of government leaders who think like entrepreneurs - and who understand that technology can transform the way citizens interact with government, just as it is transforming the way we live and work. Citizenville offers a guide for how people can take charge of their government and their futures.”
--Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City; founder of Bloomberg LP

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom offers a real discussion of how we communicate and engage with the people and institutions around us – and how government can catch up, or risk getting left behind.”
--Cory A. Booker, Mayor of Newark

"Newsom's ideas are powerful: Why can't government enjoy the same disruptions that happen in the technology industry every day? Citizenville's prescriptions form the basis of a much-needed software upgrade for our democracy."
--Jeremy Stoppelman, Co-Founder and CEO, Yelp.com

“As a serious business guy, Gavin Newsom figured out smart new ways to run his wine businesses. As mayor and lieutenant governor, he led the way in rethinking how to govern. Now, as an author, he puts that knowledge and creativity onto the page, showing us what we citizens must do to greatly improve the way our government runs. Citizenville is a serious and realistic look at how to change the nature of government forever.
--Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.com

Citizenville is nothing short of a call for revolution. Gavin Newsom, one of the most tech-savvy politicians in the United States, shows how our government has dropped the ball on using exciting new technologies – and he reveals how we can fix the situation and bring governing power to the people. In the midst of the social-media revolution, Newsom serves as a guide for how to people can take charge of their government and their futures.”
--Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman, X PRIZE Foundation; Exec. Chairman, Singularity University

“Gavin Newsom is one of the most tech-savvy elected officials in the United States. With Citizenville, he provides a blueprint for a government that can tap into the creativity, innovation and transparency that define digital and social media, and makes the case for using all the tools at our disposal to improve our government -- and our lives.”
 --Arianna Huffington, founder and editor-in-chief, The Huffington Post

Citizenville deftly combines Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom's keen understanding of technology and his insight from years in public service. The result is a book that offers ideas for bridging the gap between a plugged-in citizenry and an out-of-date government.”  
 --Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, SalesForce.com

"Thanks to new technology and new ideas, today's policy makers have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine how government serves citizens. Gavin Newsom provides a practical and engaging look at how to make our government more efficient, agile, and responsive." --Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup

“The Web is a virtual city already.  Web-based services, adroitly deployed, can massively improve physical cities and the dynamics of governance, as Newsom shows.  His experience as an innovative and popular mayor of San Francisco gives his book particular substance.”
 --Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog

About the Author

GAVIN NEWSOM is the forty-ninth lieutenant governor of the State of California, following two terms as mayor of San Francisco. He was the youngest mayor of San Francisco elected in more than a hundred years. Previously, Newsom founded fifteen small businesses in the San Francisco Bay area after graduating from Santa Clara University. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and their two children.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; First Edition edition (February 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594204721
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594204722
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A wortwhile book which encourages citizen involvement rather than waiting for government to solve problems. Government is said to work in favor of the status quo and in many cases has been taken over by a minority of activists with another agenda. Why not offer a 'contest' with bragging rights and perhaps a small amount of money as a prize for the best offered solution to most any problem as determend by popular opinion. Many examples are given where this has worked very well.

I liked it though it does get somewhat repetitive.
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Format: Hardcover
Why isn't the public more engaged in government? How should leaders connect with the generations' leading our innovation economy? These are some of the tough questions that Newsom and this collection of thought leaders unravel brilliantly. A must read for anyone with an interest in politics and/or technology.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gavin Newsom demonstrates in a succinct and entertaining manner how we can take charge of our communities by employing social media technologies we have all become familiar with.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First thing: this review is not of Gavin Newsom as Mayor, Lt. Governor, or Plumpjack entrepreneur. This is a review of a wonderfully written, easy to read, book about how the internet, Facebook, Twitter, apps, etc. (in other words digital technology), offers hope to us all. This premise could not be more timely. Our governments, from local to state to federal, lack not only the money but the ability to solve so many of our problems. Additionally, ordinary peoples' voices are being drowned out by special interests. Innovation and participation by these same ordinary people, i.e. citizens, i.e. all of us who care about something, is our hope for the future. And the future is now!

Don't be fooled that this book will be over your head, or filled with jargon, or with idealistic rhetoric. This book is for you, about you! Keep reading the book if you doubt me. Because despite the title being about how to reinvent government, Citizenville is more about real life stories of real people who are making a difference and who can help you make a difference about something YOU care about, whether it is fixing the pothole in YOUR street, improving YOUR park, addressing YOUR public safety concerns or funding a teacher in YOUR child's or grandchild's school. Each story or essay begins with an idea. Citizenville is coined from the gaming sensation Farmville. The fact that people will spend considerable time and money playing virtual games leads to the premise that the same model could be used to get people to do actual, real things in their community when given the same incentive, ie. the competitive spirit. But the book quickly moves to other ideas, each explored with quotes from a myriad of people from technology gurus to public figures.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Citizenville by Gavin Newsom with Lisa Dickey is a quick, interesting look at how new tech ideas are chewing through our old, clunky government like thousands of little nano bots. The army of bureaucrats that have been the invisible bulwark of our government since the beginnings of such things is beginning to dwindle and fail. Time and attrition have created openings where people with new ideas to master old problems can accomplish amazing things. The writing and information in this book are excellent, nothing important is left out and nothing unnecessary has been added. A great read for those fascinated by watching the politics of civilization getting fed through the equivalent of a yard waste shredder and seeing the waste fly out through the air taking the form of something interesting, lighter and much more functional.
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I run a student governance body in the Big Ten, and immediately bought this for our group to use as a reference in our restructure. We hope to have him come to our school and speak more about this issue. We've thought about much of what he mentions, but he offers resources and examples in a comprehensive style. His candor about attempts at transparency and the challenges inherent in it were particularly helpful. We all face challenges in attempting to be open hearted leaders. Readable and timely.
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The relationship between citizens and local government as citizens become participants rather than municipal "customers." Technology, also, is changing the way citizens and local governments interact. Opening up municipal data not only allows citizens to take care of business with municipalities more easily, but also signals that municipalities are willing to be more transparent in their day-to-day work and respect for citizens. Gavin Newsom cites numerous examples of how some of the nation's more forward-thinking cities are doing this.
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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 the book for a page, it felt lame to me. Every other person Newsom references or quotes is some kind of expert or pioneer on the subject matter at hand. All we learn from George Clooney is he's passionate about his personal privacy. So what?, he's not any reflection of the ordinary person which I thought was the target audience of this book.

Other than that and a bit less repetition at the end of the book this is a great quick read, it gives one lots to think about, great dinner party conversation fodder and a positive outlook on a government system that desperately needs a reboot from its public. It's well worth the read.
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