Government 2.0 Taskforce » gov2.0 Design by Ben Crothers of Catch Media Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:29 +0000 en hourly 1 When Goliath Does Social Media… Sat, 26 Sep 2009 06:33:04 +0000 Mia Garlick We’ve had a couple of posts so far looking at cultural challenges in achieving government 2.0:  Nic wrote about “The Theory of SPIN: Serial Professional Innovation Negation”, I blogged earlier on “Faceless Bureaucrats and Web 2.0”  and Lisa wrote recently about a community ethic of government engagement … I wanted to turn to another aspect of the culture challenge: what compromises do we legitimately need to make to the vision of Web 2.0 (as we understand it in the commercial and community space) because the very nature of government requires it?

The general tenor of discussions to date (pardon me if you feel I am mischaracterizing them) seems to be that government 2.0 is a logical progression of public engagement, so let’s just do it already. However, there are some things that are different; and, more importantly, there are some things that should be different about how our government functions and engages, even in a 2.0 way. This, I think, is important to acknowledge as part of the ongoing work towards realising successful government 2.0.

Many open government or Web 2.0 enthusiasts have a high regard for the Obama-Biden campaign because of its effective and successful use of social media tools. However, since coming into office, new media experts, in a poll conducted by the National Journal, gave the Obama Administration a C+ grade.

Some of the reasons for this have been explored by Peter W. Swire, an attorney who advised the New Media team of the Obama-Biden transition, in an article entitled “It’s Not the Campaign Any More” (pdf). The New Media team operated the website and developed Swire argues that there are three key differences between a campaign and a government:

“There are three key differences pre- and post-election: scale, the clearance process, and the limits on how the government can authorize actions.”

The difference between the use of social media tools in a campaign v. in government, seems to me to illustrate an argument that Joe Trippi made when he was visiting Australia earlier this year.  He cited the book “An Army of Davids” by Glenn Reynolds which discusses how changes in technology are empowering “an army of Davids” to take on the goliaths of Big Media and Big Government.

The trend of social media (per Reynolds and Trippi) is not just a change of medium from television and radio, it is also causing a shift in power; a shift from the top to the bottom. When television was big, part of the sales pitch was that Goliath was good – you wanted to be the biggest party, the biggest company. The bigger you got, the more powerful and successful you were in the world. The new medium of social networking creates an environment in which armies of Davids can self-organise and self-form and take on the Goliaths who stand in the way of issues they care about

If this is true (to continue paraphrasing Trippi), then a big cultural shift needs to happen at the top of our institutions to adjust for the armies of Davids. As we look to the future, it’s important to think differently about how you provide the tools to the people out there because they will take them, grab them and use them

Taking on board Reynolds and Trippi’s argument, the power of social media was successfully harnessed by the Obama campaign to create an army of Davids to help him win the presidency. But this compares with the apparently less successful efforts of the Obama Administration to do likewise. This, I think, highlights how, in some instances at least, social media tools may not be a natural fit within government/ by Goliath.

This, I think, begs the question: which of the challenges to making government more 2.0 are simply a factor of government not yet knowing how to provide the tools and empower people? And which are a factor of the tools being an ill-fit for Goliath?

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Connection – the real value for Content and Community Fri, 31 Jul 2009 00:57:58 +0000 Pip Marlow “Only connect. That was the whole of her sermon” E. M. Forster– Howards End

Martin Stewart-Weeks has made some interesting observations about the Task Force’s potential role in connecting three broad conversations involving Government. Connecting is a great way to think about the Internet age and I was reminded today of the timeless theme of EM Forster’s novel, Howards End – Only connect. A novel about the challenges of operating relationships across social class, it also seems to me to explore the heart of what individuals want from their government and each other – relationship through connection.

When I think about what is driving this development, it is largely a change in how people and things can be connected.

In the first wave of the Internet, people were able to connect to content that they had previously been unaware of, or unable to access. This was liberating. The technology was simple, lightweight and over time more user friendly and consequently the network effect took hold rapidly.

After a while, people started asking questions about what might be possible – “what if you could do…?”. Before we knew it we were using browsers to do all kinds of things from banking to sharing photos.

That was when we started to see some really big changes that involved a move from merely accessing content to the empowerment of people through the relationship between content, community and commerce. In my view it is the evolving of these three factors that defines what we have come to know as Web 2.0 – or the second iteration of the Web.

I call this out because the addition of community, or social graphs for individuals, and commerce, or the capability of transacting, is fundamental I think to the potential of Govt 2.0 – or the next iteration of government. In other words it’s not just about the content, or the data, or the information or digital bits wherever they may be stored. Importantly and most urgently it’s about people – individuals and groups – and how they access and apply the insight they find in content and data and information to their lives and the lives of others.

Ensuring that we drive for greater visibility and access to useful public sector information is an important step in building an improved dynamic between government and citizen. How citizens and communities of interest can benefit from and augment information and how governments can participate in those efforts more collaboratively needs to be given serious thought.

Let’s keep in mind, however, the actual value of information rests entirely in what it may mean when applied to or by an individual or group. Often this realisable value (insight) remains obscure to those third parties holding the keys to the raw data – and yet in making decisions about the release of information the economic question of value is highly relevant as there is almost always a cost to releasing information. How to get the right balance in this right of access, benefit and cost equation is a question in which the general community needs to be involved.

Pip Marlow

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