Government 2.0 Taskforce » Uncategorized Design by Ben Crothers of Catch Media Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:29 +0000 en hourly 1 The last post: now for the main event – you! Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:12 +0000 Nicholas Gruen Your Global Village Needs You! by The_Donald.

Photo by Limbic used under Creative Commons

This post also appears on the AGIMO blog, where you are able to contribute comments and continue the conversation.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s about it from us. We laboured hard, but less long than some similar exercises and came up with a report of which I think we were all proud. Now, at least if I can speak for myself, I think the government response has shown that it was worthwhile. Very significant progress has been made in the government’s response to our report.

Though I must confess as an outsider, it seemed just plain commonsense, when we started the Taskforce almost no government documents had been licensed ‘creative commons’ (CC). Now the government has accepted our recommendation that CC be the default, and indeed that the default be one of the most permissive licences CC-BY which allows complete freedom to reproduce, and remix subject only to the acknowledgement of the original source.

So having advocated what I used to see as no more than a small commonsensical change, I’m pleased to see that it’s been adopted, with the response to the Government 2.0 Taskforce being one of the first cabs off the rank to be licensed CC-BY. Australia will be one of the first governments in the world with such a policy. For me the change is also emblematic of the bigger picture. For the last few months journalists have asked me questions which have assumed that the ‘big day’ was the day of the announcement.

Throughout I’ve remained unperturbed about the announcement, not because it doesn’t matter, but because all those at the top can do is to do their best to embrace the possibilities of Government 2.0, to try to actively facilitate it, including, where appropriate, get out of the way. The announcements we have are exciting. Our recommendations were fairly uncompromising, and the government has adopted all the most important ones.

But, and I would have been saying this no matter what the decisions were, what really matters is what happens now.  Because Government 2.0 is ultimately about what individual agencies, and yes, individual public servants do to make it happen.  Before them lies a vast field of promise, but one that is still new. It won’t always be easy to work out ways of being more open, more candid, more participatory at the same time as being just as professional and apolitical as public servants have always been expected to be. (Especially when the media, and those whose job it is to point to inadequacies in the government’s performance, lie in wait every hour of the week for the thrill of some slip-up or embarrassment whether imagined, or otherwise.)

But we’ve been going about the job for a little while now and there are lots of experiments underway, many of which are already proving their success.  One of the things I took most pride in was the enthusiasm with with the International Reference Group we’d managed to sign up, responded to the report. They were kind enough to record some of their comments on our blog and and we were immodest enough to record some of them in Chapter Seven of our report.

Gartner’s Andrea DiMaio gave us an ‘A’ and second top billing in his list of ‘bests’ for Government 2.0  in 2010. I think an important reason he did is because we foregrounded the role of public servants in Government 2.0 (to whom he gave top billing!).  That just underscores the fact that, along with open data, specific projects and the way public servants engage online with the Australian community are the building blocks of Government 2.0.

In presentations I’ve occasionally likened our situation to the situation at the birth of the rise in modern science. Modern science began as a secretive military affair (Leonardo spent quite a bit of his time designing weapons and fortifications!) and then things gradually changed. As Michael Neilsen explained recently on his blog – we tried to get him for the International Reference Group but he was too busy on his forthcoming book Reinventing Discovery :( -

[W]hen Galileo first observed what would later be recognized as Saturn’s rings, he sent an anagram to the astronomer Kepler so that if Kepler (or anyone else) later made the same discovery, Galileo could disclose the anagram and claim the credit. Such secretive behaviour was common at the time, and other scientists such as Huygens and Hooke also used devices such as anagrams to “publish” their discoveries. Many scientists waited decades before genuine publication, if they published at all. What changed this situation – the first open science revolution – was the gradual establishment of a link between the act of publishing a scientific discovery and the scientist’s prospects for employment. This establishment of scientific papers as a reputational currency gave scientists an incentive to share their knowledge. Today, we take this reputational currency for granted, yet it was painstakingly developed over a period of many decades in the 17th and 18th centuries. During that time community norms around authorship, citation, and attribution were slowly worked out by the scientific community.

Neilsen observes that a similar process of opening is beginning to transform science again today. And it’s also starting to emerge in Government 2.0. Because if your agency comes up with a great project, it won’t just get accolades from within your own service.  There’s a good chance that it will excite others around the world, as the NZ Police Force discovered when they hoisted the draft of the new Police Act up on a wiki to see what the community had to contribute.  After some anxious moments our own Craig Thomler is having his own contributions recognised not just in Australia but internationally. And thus the incentives on individuals are starting to align with the common good – as they do as markets become deeper and more competitive.  This is all part of the new world made possible by Web 2.0 which enables people to find others who are doing great things.

And in the process of creating the incredible possibilities that it has, Web 2.0 is also starting to supply some of the incentives for individual actors, whether at the agency or individual level which can underpin the growth of Government 2.0. Not only does the transparency of Web 2.0 make poor performance more difficult, it helps lift up the best.

So now our formal role has well and truly concluded. On behalf of the Taskforce, let me thank the government for giving us the opportunity to participate, and now for delivering such a substantial response to our report.  But more important still let me wish those who will deliver Government 2.0, individual agencies, public servants and of course those in the community who will collaborate with them, the Taskforce’s very best wishes.  It always was the case, but now, even more so, it’s all up to you.

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Christmas 2.0 Thu, 24 Dec 2009 05:58:47 +0000 Nicholas Gruen Well we’re all winding down here, though I’m hoping to add a post or two before things wind down further.  As you probably know, the Taskforce formally ceases to exist on the 31st December. Most of the infrastructure of the Taskforce is in the process of being closed down. This blog will be staying open for reference and for any further discussion that arises on existing posts beyond the 31st December when the Taskforce ceases to exist. Taskforce members will have the option of publishing new posts if they choose. While the secretariat has disbanded, moderation will still be provided by AGIMO and any Taskforce members like me who receive feeds of comments on most posts and notice anything amiss. AGIMO have told me that they’ll keep you up to date with what is happening with the progress of the Report through government through regular posts.

But one of my treats for this morning was reading Rose Holley’s new piece on “Crowdsourcing and Social Engagement: Potential, Power and Freedom for Libraries and Users”.  Actually I’ve not yet read her paper, but have been through the slides which offer a great sampling of the crowdsourcing libraries and other institutions in the galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) sector have been up to.  (Actually there are other similar institutions, like botanical gardens of which Australia has at least two of the world’s greatest in Melbourne and Sydney, but where would you stick a ‘BG’ into GLAM?. . . . but I digress).

Anyway, I recommend it to you dear Gentle Readers 2.0 and wanted to put this thought in your head.  This Christmas if our own experience and statistics regarding the past are a reasonable source for generalising about the future you will have some spare time on your hands.  You may even be a bit bored.  So you could go to any of the sites mentioned by Rose in her presentation, and you could pass a little time at the same time as bringing a tad more joy to the world – you could make the world a touch better by the application of your time and intelligence.

All you need do is follow any or all of these links, have a look around and do a bit of volunteer work for your fellow human being.

And thanks to all for helping us on our journey this year. There were times when it looked like I’d have to go cap in hand to the Ministers who had set us our task to tell them we’d failed to get it done satisfactorily in time and to request an extension (In fact there had been informal discussions and the extension was there if we really needed it). But we did it, and judging from the reactions to our draft report, particularly from those around the world, we’ve got a great result.

So Merry Christmas one and all. As for the Happy New Year, I hope for that even more, but as far as this agenda is concerned, it’s over to the government – and you!

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