Anthony Townsend writes about my civic innovation work in San Francisco in the “planet of Civic of Laboratories” Chapter of his book on Smart Cities. He is also the first person ever to compare me to Abbie Hoffman. We all hack something these days!
“Evoking a left-wing hero of the 1960s, Abbie Hoffman, whose unforgettable Steal This Book was a foundational text for the Youth International Party (the “Yippies”), Hirshberg explains how he hacked the election. “I realized, all we need to do this summer is come up with ideas worth stealing. We need the political class to see this as a form of innovation.” More than four decades after the Summer of Love, in 2011 he proposed a Summer of Smart. An epic civic hackathon, Summer of Smart was designed to engage the candidates and their constituents around tangible tools, rather than abstract concepts like open data. Instead of asking for resources, they would turn the tables on candidates and offer up solutions. San Francisco would once again become a social laboratory. But this time, peoples’ minds would be opened not by LSD but by the wonders of information technology.”