Some early reflections
A few quick thoughts from the initial launch of the Task Force…
There was some early discussion about the credibility of the task force itself and its lack of obvious ‘heavy’ web/tech representation. Actually the group is pretty balanced and has a good mix of perspectives. But I made the point at the Web 2.0 in Govt conference last week that people shouldn’t fuss too much about the TF and its membership, but rather see the announcement as a crack that ‘let’s the light in’ as Leonard Cohen might put it! It’s an opportunity and we all need to play a role in making the most of it.
It’s reasonable to expect that TF will demonstrate the principles and culture of Web 2 in its own operations and keep the conversation as open and “outside in” as possible.
We have to work out ways to engage these issues with key public sector leaders and policy makers. The point about Government 2.0 is that it is fundamentally a discussion about government itself. So we need to ‘mainstream’ its deliberations and conversations so it can’t be parked as a tech-driven side show.
We will also have to think carefully about the best way to talk with the communities we want to engage, including the already active and highly connected and those who may not yet be counted amongst the technorati but who have forceful views and great insights to share.
I think the task force is a massive opportunity to connect three big conversations – one about the emergence of a new public sector (culture, institutions, processes etc), one about improving service delivery and another about lifting the quality, reach and impact of citizen/community engagement. We should always try and keep the ‘frame’ of our deliberations as wide as possible to show how these three conversations, transformed by the instincts, tools and culture of the new social media, merge into a larger story.
Maybe we can see the TF as a combination of ‘platform’ (ie a space in which we can draw a sustained and energetic discussion, including linking to spaces where that discussion is already happening), a show case (to illustrate what’s possible and how it adds value) and offering helpful advice (to give government some practical guidance about how to accelerate the adoption of Web 2.0 tools, capabilities and behaviours in the public sector…). This last one especially…”don’t lecture us”, one public servant said the other day at the Web 2.0 conference…”give us advice and encouragement”. Good point…
Finally, it’s inevitable I guess that the conversations here on the blog and elsewhere will diverge in all sorts of directions. But we have a chance gradually to ‘sort and sift’ the ideas into some larger themes. A bit of structure won’t hurt! That’s not about narrowing the discussion but simply the reality that we need to balance the open debate with the need to respond to the specific questions we’ve been asked to consider.