Now that California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom's Current TV chat show has evaporated, the famously restless leader needs something to do that likely doesn't involve spending lots of time in Sacramento's infinite dullness.
Luckily, the former San Francisco mayor's parting of ways with his show came only a few months before the release of his first book, "Citizenville."
"[The book is] about focusing on what works from small cities to large cities all across the country where voices are being amplified by the tools of technology. We live in a world now where we're more engaged than ever peer-to-peer. Where people are engaging one-on-one to solve problems," Newsom explained in a book trailer posted on the publisher's website. "Most of us see government as a vending machine where you put in your dollar in taxes and you get police, fire, health care and defense. But after you're exhausted with those limited choices and you're unhappy with what you get, you kick the machine and you shake it. That's where you get the Tea Party and the Occupy movement--people that are frustrated."
Newsom said inspiration for the book came from a project initiated during his tenure as mayor, during which San Francisco opened up much of its raw data to the public. As a result, civic-minded developers to created free apps relating to city services. He pointed to the San Francisco's government app store, which offers programs designed to answer questions like, "when is the next bus coming," "how much crime is happening in my neighborhood" and "seriously, when is the next bus coming!"
"Citizenville" is billed as an attempt to find an "Angry Birds for Democracy," though the real world implications will more likely play out as something like "Farmville for Regional Transportation Authority Meetings." (We're more excited about the former option -- "Angry Birds for Democracy" is a pretty apt metaphor for Washington's debt ceiling debacle!)
Or as SFist puts it, "Citizenville" is "[a] book intended for people who really want to bug their friends about government."
Improving local governance by harnessing the power (and goodwill) of the private sector's nerdiest corners was recently echoed in a video produced by a coalition of San Francisco's tech firms.
Buy your own copy of "Citizenville" on February 7.