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In case you’ll be at the Government 2.0 Summit in Washington DC . . .

2009 September 4
by Nicholas Gruen

Just a note, that I’m heading for the Government 2.0 Summit in Washington D.C. which will be run from Tuesday to Thursday next week. If anyone’s planning to go or be anywhere near there, or if they know such a person and they’d like to catch up, please drop me a line on ngruen AT lateraleconomicsxx DOT com DOT au (don’t forget to remove the ‘xx’ at the end of ‘lateraleconomics’) and we can make arrangements, or look out for me there. Will be interesting to see how well Australia is represented there.

12 Responses
  1. 2009 September 4
    Craig thomler permalink

    Nick have a fantastic time and bring back lots of great ideas for reuse in Australia.

    It would be great if the Taskforce, or it’s replacement, provided scholarships for ongoing public servants to attend these types of events to increase public sector expertise in the Gov 2.0 space.

    These scholarships could be for public servants new to the social media space and as part of their terms for participation have them required to maintain a blog and Twitter feed of their experience and provide presentations to departments on their return to capture and embed the knowledge and experience across the public service.

  2. 2009 September 5

    Thanks for coming to the Gov 2.0 Summit – see you there! :)

  3. 2009 September 5

    Nicholas, I hope it’s an amazing experience. I have no doubt it will be.

    I had planned to go – had bookings and all – but couldn’t end up justifying the cost.

    I agree with Craig – we need to ensure that public servants, a mix of new, upcoming and existing leaders, get the opportunity to attend major events such as this.

    I suspect you will be a fairly lonely Australian voice in a crowd of Americans and Brits. I whope I’m wrong and that there will be many of us Australians there

    • 2009 September 6
      laurence millar permalink

      I will be there as probably a lonely NZer – maybe I can become an honorary Australian for the purposes of putting up a united front in the sea of Americans and Brits.

  4. 2009 September 6
    simonfj permalink

    Now let me get this right.

    You’re going to hop on a plane and spend three days travelling, to get together with a bunch of very bright people for a two days, who will look at, and talk about, Web developments only in terms of government.

    Then you’ll arrive back, and give us a report, like all the other attendees will do in their respective countries, about stuff we can probably find on the web, after the event, which will probably talk about how government agencies can use Web 2.0, so that they don’t have to do just what you and your peers will have just done = talk about processes, which might include people who aren’t subsidized by the public purse. to hop on planes and talk in a little room for a couple of days, after which, they will fly back and, as fast as possible, issue a report to some .gov agency’s small interest groups…….. Oh…..OK.

    Am I missing something here? Must the billions spent on developments in every country’s Research and Education Network, to develop ICT like the accessgrid and acid, be ignored forever? Or is this onging farce predicated on the misconception that governement agencies, by issuing reports, might retain any relevance to Web communities; many of whom spend their time talking about how they are never included in ‘their’ government, and ‘its’ irrelevant policies.

    I think this taskforce has just proved it has missed the point of Gov2.

    • 2009 September 6
      laurence millar permalink

      For myself, I am really looking forward to the insights and energy that will come from the ´bunch of very bright people´. My personal experiences of video links and access grids have to date been unsatisfactory, and while channels like TED talks are a useful medium, I think they will still need a physical focal point for some years to come.

      Sure, some of it is on the web, and discussions have been taking place between the participants before and will continue after – it is not a case of choosing only one method of knowledge exchange. Each has itś own value and cost.

      And for the avoidance of doubt, I am not receiving any public money to attend, it is on my own shilling. So I obviously think (hope) the Gov2.0 Summit will be worth it.

      • 2009 September 7
        simonfj permalink

        discussions have been taking place between the participants before and will continue after

        Lawrence, that’s the main point I’m making, albeit with a sledgehammer. Culturally, the main difference between old and new, is that if yu attend a conference, it’s likely you’ll use email, and all your discussions will take place below the radar. Social network for my peers? Meanwhile, the new generation is having an education, about yesterday, ‘delivered to them’, and uses places like facebook to complain about boring lecturers and the lack of job opportunities.

        And believe me, if your video link and AG experiences have been “unsatisfactory” you’re not alone. Most academics (I’ve spoken to) feel like that. It also explains why successful media producers rarely come from, or are trained by, acadamic institutions. It takes a creative mind to capture social dynamics.

  5. 2009 September 6

    Simon, I’m going to make some assumptions and leap to Nicholas’ defence here. Not that he needs me to, he’s quite big enough.

    Nicholas is likely to be spending his own money on making this trip. Regardless of the power of the web to provide us access to the people and content of events like this, there is a time when it’s right to put a bunch of people together – to bolster the relationship building, to have in-depth conversations, to get to know people and to nut out tough problems.

    Government 2.0 is as much about the people as the tools, and this event will be a highlight in the calendars of the people who attend – smart, engaging speakers and activities and the chance to get to really know some people better.

    As I said above, I had intended to go, but couldn’t justify the spend. If I had had the funds available, I’d be on a plane.

  6. 2009 September 6
    Nicholas Gruen permalink


    Thanks for your defence – alas, like the professorships that are occasionally conferred on me, you have been too generous. My trip will be being paid for, though I would have used my own money if it hadn’t been.


    I find myself sympathising with your criticism (I seem to be almost pathalogical in my open-mindedness, having basically agreed in my last post with Andrea describing an aspect of what I proposed as ‘absurd’.)

    But while I sympathise, I think you’re taking things a bit far. It’s certainly true that technologies enable us to do without as much face to face interaction as we used to need to get things done – which is great. But like paper in offices, the face to face and the technologically mediated are complements as well as substitutes. I run two businesses which are networked around the country from home offices, and there’s nothing like a set-up like that to make you realise that offices where people congregate also have their productivity enhancing characteristics (though so too does our arrangement.) If I may invoke a cliché, it’s horses for courses.

    We are using technology quite aggressively to reduce the amount of travelling involved in this inquiry. In participating in the Review of Innovation Chaired by Terry Cutler, all meetings involved members flying in to a central location. We’ve had six meetings of this Taskforce and four have been by teleconference. They’ve been excellent, but I don’t think the face to face meetings were an extravagance. We’re going to report to you on what we’ve saved by doing it this way.

    I don’t think it’s extravagant to fund the Chairman of our inquiry into Government 2.0 to one of the main international conferences on the subject. My own preparedness to spend my own money, and Laurence’s to do the same is testimony to the idea that there are some things that physical conferences can give you that still can’t be done on the internet.

    We’re flesh and blood you know!

    • 2009 September 7
      simonfj permalink


      I hope you never think I’m having a go at you. I call a spade a bloody shovel these days (after a decade of biting my tongue) to make the point obvious, and to get the type of feedback this hamfisted approach elicits (as usual). The same criticism I’ve made of you can be made of every academic and bureaucrat these days, especially the ones travelling to climate change, and accessgrid, conferences.

      I’ve heard all the criticisms of “swanning on the public purse” and made all the defences about “all virtual” and/or “all face to face”. And I DO understand that conference organisers (and academic journal publishers) absolutely hate the idea that ICT technologies might ever be used to support what happens before and after a face to face (or pre and post journal) = support the inclusion of interested parties in a social network in learning what’s going on, and what will happen next.

      The point I’m hoping comes out of this flash in a teacup is that you may consider looking at ICT through the eyes of an young person. There’s so much one has to forget these days. The accessgrid has been reduced to mean ‘teleconferencing’ as one example. Another, more progressive idea, would be to stream every teleconference get together, so people could be included in what the (any) taskforce is thinking, and maybe give their feedback, and leave their combined learning archive in a fixed webbed spot. And save shoeleather.

      I always worry, as I’ve said to your younger compadres, Kate Lundy and Pia, on that parallel inquiry in the publicsphere(3), where the idea of distributed conferences has been attempted, on a shoestring. Until we have agreed upon an impressive combination of old and new media, you progressives risk suffering jet lag and burning yourselves out, and becoming disappointed. And I’m getting sick to death of the fleshy and bloody evidence.

  7. 2009 September 9

    I, too, have had to balance the time and cost of face time and meetings with US counterparts rather than video or teleconferencing [see other comments below]. Having just returned from just over 3 days in Washington I found the opportunity to talk through what is happening in the UK with colleagues to be invaluable. There is real interest in what is happening internationally in this space and I was asked to talk to the Federal Web Managers Council and CIOs at GSA and an audience of about 150 shared with me their views on social media and its place in opening up public sector information and information as a national asset. I also took the opportunity to review initiatives in Europe, Australia and NZ- all of which are of great interest to our opposite numbers in DC. Conversation and debate in person has real value so we do need to find a happy medium.

    • 2009 September 10
      simonfj permalink

      Exaaaaactly Carol,

      The main point here is that everyone belongs to a Global community these days, even (especially) if they are as old as my 8 year old niece. (I have been told to “get real”.) The problem for the older folk is that, because the World Wide web is new, they can’t forget their old ways. They can’t think in terms of a “Global Web Managers Council” (or any other Global peer group). It’s just habit that they think in terms of “information as a national asset” “reviewing National initiatives”. Information of little use when everyone is drowning in it.

      The best analogy i can give is comparing the fact that – if information generation on the web continues, by 2030 (I think it is) it is estimated the web will double every 11 minutes. – to the time (early 1900’s) where it was estimated, that the number of manually connected telephones in the US would require every housewife on the west coast to be employed on a switchboard. There comes a time where people have to face reality.

      My frustration is that I can see the evolution in the possible tools. They’re now getting to the stage where even an older person can understand how they could be used. They don’t have to learn how to use them. They just have to agree on what would be a ‘happy’ combination of media. And every global peer group will prefer a (slightly) different combination.

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