I just started reading a newly released book "Rebooting America: Ideas for redesigning American democracy for an Internet age". It is available as a free ebook or download individual essays from http://rebooting.personaldemocracy.com/.
The book is a series of essays by thinkers about the use of the Internet and social networking for political and humanitarian reform.
Many of the contributing authors are familiar names, Yochai Benkler, Howard Rheingold, Clay Shirky, Dana Boyd and Dave Weinberger are few that I have been following.
Quote from the forward by Ester Dyson:
"In 1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “If a nation expects to be ignorant
and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Those words have never been more salient or important than they are today. We have pressing public policy problems, adults who should be leaders yet instead lead willfully sheltered lives of comfort and ignorance, a citizenry increasingly active in elections yet alienated from governance, an amazing array of new digital tools and platforms that have the potential to inform and empower us and let us self-organize in astonishing and effective ways. The stage is ready and the sunlight of the Internet is shining on us: It can provide light and energy for a fertile, thousand-flowers-blooming garden, or it can ignite the whole thing into flames and burn it out."
Also came across this article via Howard Rheingolds Smart Mobs site on the use of social networking tools like YouTube to be witness to public sector neglect and abuses of power. http://www.silicon.com/publicsector/0,3800010403,39266049,00.htm?r=1
An argument for the public monitoring the state.