California's lieutenant governor delivers an unpersuasive paean to networked politics
In the gushing, breathless copy that justifies Gavin Newsom’s lead spot in his publisher’s catalogue, we learn that “government cannot keep functioning in a twentieth-century mindset.” We are informed further that Newsom, the present lieutenant governor of California, and formerly the youngest mayor of San Francisco in more than a century, came to his tirelessly sanguine view of digital democracy by overseeing the digital renovation of San Francisco’s city hall. In a flourish as logical as it is grammatical, we learn that “Newsom’s quest to modernize one of America’s most modern cities—and the amazing results he achieves—form the backbone of this far-reaching book.”
Alas, this dubiously signifying nonsense does not let up between the covers of Citizenville. To say that Newsom’s ruminations on technology and politics come in fifty shades of bullshit is to give this all-too-representative study in online civic boosterism too much credit. Newsom’s bullshit is solidly and tediously monochrome. The color itself is hard to make out: It could be the cosmopolitan hue of Thomas Friedman’s frequent-flier pass, or that of a rustic tablecloth in a Davos chalet (Newsom must be the only person on earth to have had an “epiphany” while in Davos), or, perhaps, that of the glossy business card of Cisco’s “chief globalization officer”—“a man who makes his living thinking outside the box”—whom Newsom quotes approvingly.
Written in bombastic but wooden prose, this lazy tome of techno-populism consists of random entries from Newsom’s busy calendar (“Early in 2012, I spent a weekend at the Aspen