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There are people who do Gov 2.0 work who do not believe in calling “Government 2.0″ a movement. In the non-movement sense, Gov 2.0 is practically defined as anything that someone wants to call “Gov 2.0″ – often an emerging technology looking to capitalize on the movement.

There’s something to capitalize on because Government 2.0 is a movement, albeit a very loose one with many banners. The broad movement, though, boils down to a core commitment to democracy and a more collaborative and transparent government. There are a also a number of tools associated with the Gov 2.0 movement, from wikis to crowdsourcing platforms, social media and structured “open” data.

The ability of totalitarian societies to use these same toolkits – just as they have used rigged elections – to advance unjust and dishonest agendas is also very real. As an activists – and that is what I am – I was dismayed over the past several weeks to see the Transportation Security Administration use its well-developed social media channels to dismiss dissent with its new policies. Tools that build trust can also be used to betray it.

Gov 2.0 thrives on trust and openness. It is not a marketing program to burnish agency images, or an umbrella for vendors to sell new technologies.

Which brings me to Wikileaks. I come here because it the Wikileaks discussion has come to the Gov 2.0/”Open Gov” community.

Wikileaks is not open government, it is an independent press entity playing an important role in securing a free society, including some of the aims of open government activists.

From the birth of the U.S. to Watergate to the Pentagon Papers to Kaczynski’s Manifesto to the Iraq War and the outing of Valerie Plame, the press has played a central role – at times succeeding and at others failing – in ensuring the flow of information that society builds and thrives on. Wikileaks is an evolution of the role of the press, but one with extensive precedent.

I want you to think about some of the slogans and mottos of our newspapers:

Frederick Douglass’ North Star Newspaper (1838): “Right is of no sex, truth is of no color. God is the father of us all and all we are brethren.”

Zambia Daily Mail, Japan Times, Cambodia Daily: “All the News Without Fear or Favor.”

New Mexico State Tribune: “Give Light and the People Will Find Their Way”

The Aspen Daily News: “If You Don’t Want it Printed, Don’t Let It Happen”

Chattanooga Times Free Press: “To Give The News Impartially, Without Fear or Favor”

Colebrook News and Sentinel: “Independent But Not Neutral”

Daily Truth (New Orleans): “The Truth is Always Fair”

The Globe: “The World is Governed Too Much”

United States’ Telegraph: “Power Is Always Stealing From The Many To The Few”

I am interested in hearing and debating your thoughts on Wikileaks, and seeing the reading you’ve done to form your opinion. Here are a couple of links that I find important:

“No evidence that Wikileaks releases have hurt anyone”

“U.S. State Department tells employees not to read Wikileaks”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s widely acknowledged by emergency preparedness officials that text alerts are an important part of their arsenal. As Twitter gains increasing adoption among both engaged citizens and government agencies, there is a simple outreach mechanism for ensuring that alerts are received broadly: SMS signups for Twitter alerts from official emergency accounts.
While warning claxons, radio alerts and other systems that don’t rely on cellular networks are the backbone of civic emergency programs, all cities that use Twitter in their preparedness toolkit should be actively encouraging the public to sign up for alerts via text on their cell phones. For example, in San Francisco, to receive SMS alerts by cell from the Department of Emergency Management, Twitter users simply need to text “follow SF_Emergency” to 40404. This official account sends out very few tweets (just 12 in the month of October), but when it does update, it’s important information such as road closure updates, details on emergency preparedness drills or details on gas leaks and other emergencies. 
To find out about your local emergency alerts, you can check out the resources on GovLive, and to sign up for Twitter SMS alerts in the U.S. text “follow” and the account name without the @ symbol to 40404.

I am involved with the Gov 2.0 movement because I believe it will bring important change to calcified and inefficient governmental structures. CityCampSF, an unconference held yesterday in San Francisco, will be a success if real actions stem from the event discussions and connections. I got two action items from the event that I intend to follow up on:

Fighting Blight with Civic Apps
In a great small group discussion with officials from the Department of Public Works and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, I learned more about how the City addresses graffiti tagging. I want to help educate folks how to use Open311 and apps like CitySourced and SeeClickFix to photograph, geotag and report graffiti tags, and to create more efficient structures for empowering volunteers to paint over tags on private property. I learned about current and planned graffiti tagging abatement efforts from DPW’s Greg Crump, and Greg and I plan to create a wiki to document current processes and work on technical and process reforms. I’m also hoping to get on the agenda of the Graffiti Advisory Board next month to talk about civic apps and innovations in graffiti tagging prevention and abatement, with the goal of convening a train-the-trainers session with neighborhood leaders on how to better fight blight in their communities using new technologies.

Mapping and Promoting Civic Treasures
In a session on social media for civic engagement, I learned about theartaround.us, a project by Laurenellen McCann that aims to be a Yelp for art, and Green Map, a global effort to map cultural resources, as I presented on using location-based services to promote public art and open space. There was a lot of synergy around the topic, as we discussed mapping civic resources from temporary art installations from groups like Black Rock City (the Burning Man producers) to community gardens. I hope to use the CityCampSF platform to start soliciting and creating civic maps and to collect and promote those that already exist.
Keep up with ongoing CityCampSF projects by subscribing to the blog. Thanks!

I’m speaking at Beyond 2010 Edmonton next week, and, stepping out from my usual social media, open data and Gov 2.0 fare, my presentation ties personal childhood passions and forever dreams into a talk called “Sci-fi, Digital Society and the Future of Governance.” Here’s a look at several of the books that figure into this look at ‘today’ and tomorrows that might be (Amazon affiliate links):

The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style and Your Life (Malone, 2004)

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto (Lanier, 2010)

Player Piano (Vonnegut, 1952)

Foundation and the Robot Series (Foundation Novels) (Asimov, 1950-1985)

Flickr photo of Zhou Renti and his android by Montauk Beach
Luke Closs is a Vancouver-based web developer and co-creator of VanTrash, a civic app that notifies residents of local trash pickup schedules and won the “People’s Choice Award” in British Columbia’s “Apps for Climate Action” contest. Luke was recently interviewed on Gov 2.0 Radio, and in this guest post he discusses the benefits of co-creation for government services. 

An “ideas pipeline” is analogous to a sales pipeline – you have a lot of leads, and as you qualify them your pipeline gets smaller but more valuable. This really highlights how open source works well. Open source is great for allowing a lot of ideas emerge, some of them are great, some not so much.
This analogy is useful for people within governmental organizations to understand how they can help cultivate useful apps. At each step of that pipeline there are different actions they can take to help maximize the value coming out. Providing a forum for idea generation and sharing helps grow the inputs to the pipeline. Providing a forum for developers/designers/citizens to connect helps transform ideas into prototypes. Prototypes that are useful or interesting or novel can become projects. Keeping that community in contact and moving forward helps keep up excitement and interest in projects. Projects that prove to be useful become services used by hundreds or thousands of people. Recognizing and supporting these project teams is valuable.
Eventually services may become infrastructure, things that citizens expect to have. At this point, governments may chose to partner with the creators to ensure the infrastructure can be sustainable for all their citizens over the long term.
This really demonstrates the way that governments should leverage open source. They can get a huge amount of innovation around their data by providing support for ideas, teams and projects that prove themselves to be successful.
Contrast this with the traditional, old-school way that governments rolled out services in the past. They paid for all ideas, successful or not.

At a couple of recent presentations on social media for local government, I asked the audiences of IT professionals which tools they were already using. At least 90 percent indicated they were using Twitter or Facebook, usually both. The battle for social media adoption has been won.
However, adoption is just the first step, and it was clear that many of these accomplished webmasters were far from sure how to implement robust social media strategies and programs in their agencies. In consideration of this, I’ve been blogging more on the basics of social media implementation for local governments, resurrecting and re-editing many of my older posts in the process (see the new page tabs at adrielhampton.com). One question that many governmental units struggle with is control over social media. IT or public affairs staffs may struggle with putting the social media genie back in the lamp after learning of unofficial “official” accounts, or insist on a centralized processes and approval hierarchies for any new accounts.
Tight control of agency social media may work from a traditional PR perspective, but it’s a recipe for public outreach failure in the cultures created by Facebook and Twitter. The best social media is human, peer-to-peer, and casual. And there is very little preventing government agencies and officials from flourishing in this environment, once they make the choice to let go of traditional bureaucratic processes. The best social media is informal, passionate and personal. It’s the hopeful mayor, the committed public works official, the tweeting library exhibit.
The best government social media efforts are also diverse. City of San Francisco has more than three dozen active Twitter accounts for programs, agencies and City officials and many more Facebook accounts. The U.S. State Department has hundreds of Facebook and Twitter accounts, for Embassies, programs, and individual officials. The best control is a proactive strategy that emphasizes training, best practices and strategic goals, wrapping the “don’ts” into existing employee conduct policies. 
A tweeting City seal is fine, but a tweeting City Manager is even better (and make sure she or he has a great avatar picture). A tweeting City seal AND a tweeting City Manager is even better. Add a tweeting Rec and Parks staff member and a tweeting council member and you’re even better off. Share, repeat and accentuate messaging across account and platforms. Be professional, but be human. Be real, and be helpful. Your most personable accounts are invariably going to have the most influence and recognition on social media channels. And if you’re not doing social media to make a difference, it’s probably not worth doing.
A couple practical tips: if an elected official is tweeting and wants to do it in official capacity, consider one account for the office and one account for the individual that can also be used for campaign purposes without creating a dilemma for staff; increase transparency and accountability by identifying responsible staff for any “City seal” accounts by including their names or Twitter IDs in the bio, then use initials if needed in individual messages.
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