Gerrit Lansing on “The Internet’s Disruption of Politics & Government”

Gerrit Lansing's seminars will be held on Mondays at 3:30pm.

All IOP Pritzker Fellows Seminars will be held in the IOP Living Room unless otherwise noted. 
All seminars are students only and closed to press/off the record.


The great promise of the internet was the ability for government and citizens to be connected in direct communication. Once and for all it would bridge the divide. It would boost citizen participation, education levels and interest in civics and government by lowering the barriers to access and providing a voice for anyone with an internet connection. Has that happened? If yes, where, and how? If not, why?  In what ways Is the gap between government and citizens even larger now? How has it shrunk? We’ll dive into the problems and difficult questions that the tech and digital transformation has brought to democracy and our society.  We’ll talk about digital disruption in 2016 and the rise of movement politics.  And at the end of the quarter, we’ll discuss how to rebuild and find solutions for the next generation of institutions, leaders and technologies.

Session 1 (April 4)*: What the Internet Was Supposed to Do for Democracy & Institutions | RSVP
*Please note, this seminar will be held on Wednesday, April 4 at 12:30pm.

In this seminar we’ll discuss the early digital revolution in politics and government. What was the future supposed to hold? What actually came about? We’ll look at the US experience and beyond. How did countries like Estonia get to the digital future so fast and is it working for them as promised? We’ll explore and debate the amazing potential that Estonia has shown to revolutionize how government can work to better serve its citizens and close the gap between them.

Suggested reading for this seminar:

Special Guest (via Skype): David Almacy, Founder of CapitalGig Communications

Session 2 (April 9): Techlash: Regulating the Algorithms | RSVP

In this seminar we dive into today’s “techlash” crises of Fake News, addictive hardware and social media and the implications of all this for society and democracy. We’ll look at the coming collision between tech and government over the design of habit-forming apps and devices that cause anxiety and depression, as well as reinforce negative stereotypes.

Is social media and the algorithms that drive it the new cigarettes? And should government regulate them as such - warning labels and all? What is your own experience with social media?

What is the future of government, citizen responsibility and news in an algorithm-driven world that’s designed to group us into small niches and is optimized purely for amount of time spent? What responsibility do advertising and social media networks have to protect democracy and how are they handling the Fake News problem?

Suggested reading for this seminar:

Special Guests (via Skype): Jason Rosenbaum, Director of Advertising, Hillary for President; Sara Fischer, Axios media reporter

Session 3 (April 16): Distributed Everything: Digital Disruption of Institutions | RSVP

In this seminar we look at a recent phenomenon of how institutions are breaking apart into direct to consumer/citizen functions and what that means for the future. Institutions and governments risk falling even further behind - and possible irrelevance - in a tech-driven world that distributes everything over a platform and direct to consumer. What is distributed today that wasn’t 5-10 years ago? What’s not been broken apart from a central power and made accessible over the internet? What is government’s role in that future and can technologies like blockchain help maintain government’s relevance? We’ll look at examples of the breakup of central control in areas like politics (small dollar donations drive movements now); education (college classes available online anywhere in the world); money (cryptocurrencies: even money is produced outside government now), and others.

Suggested reading for this seminar:

Special Guest: Tom Serres, Co-Founder of Animal Ventures & host of Tech on Politics (via Skype)

Session 4 (April 23)*: Movement Politics: Cultivate the Karass | RSVP
*Please note, this seminar will be held at 5710 S. Woodlawn Ave. from 3:30 - 5pm. 

Cultivate the Karass (CtK), focuses on fostering non-partisan collaborative engagement between diverse civic leaders to build a better democracy and a stronger society by bringing influential leaders together to dissolve barriers and biases both in and out of government. CtK’s goal is to equip leaders who will influence the public agenda over the next 20 years by giving them transformative experiences that create and connect them to a network of “loyal antagonists.”

In this seminar, students will hear from a panel of “loyal antagonists” and participate in a workshop designed to assist students to more broadly and confidently participate in civil political dialogue and engagement on college campuses. Lori Brewer Collins will offer processes and tools to support open, diverse and inclusive conversations that can provide first steps toward reconnecting students and Americans who often see no common ground.

Special Guest: Lori Brewer Collins, Founder & President of Cultivate the Karass

Session 5 (April 30): An Insider’s Look at the RNC | RSVP

My experience as Chief Digital Officer of the RNC and working with through the primary and general election. The politics, the digital marketing insights, the big moments and stories from behind the scenes.

Special Guest: Gary Coby, Senior Partner at IMGE, former Director of Advertising for the RNC & the Trump campaign (via Skype)

Session 6 (May 7): How We Fix This: Congress 2.0 | RSVP

Congress first let TV cameras into a hearing room in the Senate in the 50’s. The lighting was bad, and the angles were worse. Because it was a setup made for radio. But Congress physically changed itself to fit the new era - now hearings are literally made-for-tv affairs. What can Congress do to update itself for the Internet Age and bring people in in the same way TV and Radio did? What advances have been made so far? What can we learn from local governments?

Suggested reading for this seminar:

Special Guest: Seamus Kraft, Executive Director of the Open Government Foundation

Session 7 (May 14): Party as a Platform | RSVP

Just like every other institution, national political parties have been disrupted. Now they have no control over primaries and there’s less “playing between the 40’s” in our politics. Are those things related? How did we get here and can parties reassert control by distributing their services and tools over a platform so that candidates at all levels can access them? Would this allow them to regain some control? What should the parties of the future look like? Insight from the RNC which has taken significant steps towards this model already.

Special Guest: Katie Walsh, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Implementation for the Trump administration (via Sykpe)

Session 8 (May 21): Modernizing the Federal Government | RSVP

You can’t modernize government without modernizing its technology and digital practices. The two are inextricably linked. If trust in government is low, can better services and tools win people back? The federal government spends $80 Billion/year on IT - where does it all go? There’s true bipartisan support over this non-partisan issue. Are there big successes on the horizon from the advances that both Obama and Trump have made?

Special Guest: Matt Lira, Special Assistant to the President for Innovation Policy and Initiatives