Balancing a ferocious drive for his passions and a carefree air, he is both a mover and shaker in the world of politics. Born in 1967, Newsom grew up as a child of the Bay area, before cell phones and computers became commonplace within households and schools. He attended Redwood High School and later moved on to Santa Clara University, so, needless to say, he has a deep connection with the area and its people.
Newsom’s book, which overwhelmingly calls for an increase in individual participation in government, is about how citizens have become disconnected and how technology can help and reinvent that connection. To overcome the pervasive distrust lack of involvement, Newsom’s book calls for a complete reevaluation of government’s modus operandi in context of the 21st century.
The name “Citizenville” derives from George Orwell’s Farmville and is based off of Newsom’s proposition to create a digital scoreboard where individuals gain points by helping their community. “It is not a who’s to blame book. It is what to do,” he said. “In a world where we are so good at focusing on who’s to blame, I don’t think we focus enough on solving our problems.” Technology is changing the face of industries, which have become increasingly more accessible to everyone, Newsom explained. Government, however, is struggling to keep up with the digital advancements and the speed at which its people function in everyday life. “Technology fundamentally is going to radically change our institutions and government doesn’t get it,” he said. “We are living in a fish bowl. We are in a world of hyper transparency.”
Instead of only participating with the public during elections, Newsom wants elected officials to open a continual dialogue for citizens to voice their opinions. And he is on a mission to create greater transparency by uploading agencies’ data to cloud services, which can increase information in the public domain and lead to further innovation. Not so commonplace within people’s lives. He explained that our generation — as kids born into technology— we don’t know anything different than a digital age. For those older, however, they are immigrants to the technological realm that we see today. “You are a digital native, bathed in bits. The world is customized around you. See, I’m a digital immigrant, I’m still learning the language,” said Newsom.