Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The nexus-state

David Ronfeldt and Danielle Varda write in the summer 2008 issue of RAND Review that they expect a new sort of state to emerge:
From this, we predict the emergence of the “nexus-state” — something quite different from the traditional nation-state or recent notions of an approaching market-state or network-state. The nexus-state will integrate multiple modes of governance. It will be stronger than the nation-state but also more embedded and circumscribed. It will revolve around a new kind of administration in which officials remain concerned about what is happening in their offices but become increasingly oriented by the new sensory and sectoral networks into which they are plugged.
This notion fascinates me. It's different from the network state discussed by Castells. To me, in fact, it sounds familiar:
Government and business will benefit from [pervasive information and surveillance] technology, for good and ill. Less noticed, but we think equally likely and significant, is that these tools will help spur the rise of a new social sector — distinct from the established public and private sectors — by providing networked nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations with tools not only for checking on the behavior of governments and corporations, but also for collaborating with them. We can already find evidence of these transformations in health care, integrated social services, and environmental and consumer protection.
Sure, but we are also seeing this work happening to some extent with Google, which has become very active in public policy, energy, and telecommunications. Google is a corporation, of course, but it is also functioning to some extent as an NGO and is subsidizing nonprofit projects such as Android with its earnings from its core business (and yes, those nonprofit projects are strategically key to its core business).

Check out this short and interesting article, and the rest of the issue while you're at it.

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