The social web has completely transformed civil society. With greater ease than ever before, people can voice their views, connect to others, learn to see the world from new vantage points and gather information on their own terms. The result is a civic long tail: a mass of loosely connected, small-scale conversations, campaigns and interest groups, which occasionally coalesce to create a mass movement.
The advent of social media has led to people expecting the same degree of reflexivity in other walks of life, including in their interactions with the State. As more conversations between citizens and government move online, masses of data on citizens’ views and preferences will be created. The Civic Long Tail argues that the potential for ‘big data’ to make government more intelligent and responsive will only be realised if government also learns how to open up this data to the civic entrepreneurs who seek to make the data useful for citizens and communities.