Gov 2.0 is a Leveler, or It is Nothing

santa-cruzIf Government 2.0 is not a sharing process, it is nothing. If it keeps us linked to class, to knowledge hoarding silos, and pits intellectuals against the little people, it is worse than nothing.

Do you think there are expert gatekeepers, or are we in this together?

The American people are out there asking for a responsive and responsible government. (Some of them don’t call it that – they call it, “Government staying out of my way.”)

I believe we can have a more responsive and responsible government. I believe that innovative and good-willed people inside and outside government can work and are working to make a better governance structure.

I believe the crashing-the-gates mentality of Web 2.0 and grassroots political culture will help bring about positive change. But I will not insist on titles.

I am not a Government 2.0 expert. I would posit there are none. In fact, a smart and committed intern could probably run a better social outreach program than a highly paid consultant (especially since most gov entities cannot afford that consultant).

In this case, these ideas are so new, a “consultant” really is the guy from another town. We are learning and growing together, or we are not growing at all.

I’m here to help. How about you?

(Photo by Franco Folini)

15 thoughts on “Gov 2.0 is a Leveler, or It is Nothing

  1. I agree…this is all so new, we are embarking on this journey together. There are no experts, but we can sure learn from each other as we move towards our goal. It is just great to find people who share the same vision.

  2. Usually I am in violent agreement Adriel, and am largely in agreement here as well. Gov2 has to be in part about inclusion and participation.

    But gov2 can promote social fear through its peer to peer nature. That doesn’t make it a bad thing – it can foster collaboration by those citizens who may not otherwise participate. But there is a downside.

    Where I disagree is that participation has been around for years. We have been fostering public participation through electronic means since 2000. What is new is not participation. What is new is the expectation that government be “social” in part because business is now becoming social.

    Gov2 is for sure going to change government for the better. Instead of having one tenth of 1% of citizens show up for some meetings, percentage participation will rise. That alone will be a big victory and lead to better decisions.

  3. I don’t know your social class, your silo of knowledge, or your status as a little person. I do know you write a blog I enjoy reading and commenting on, and that’s gotta count for something.

    Every blogger fits the same shoe.

    Maybe it counts for the “we” that you are desperately trying to promote.

  4. What is Government 2.0? I assume you are implying Web 2.0 = Gov 2.0 in that the next “version” of government is the use of social media, social networking, and availability of government data. If you simply mean Gov 2.0 as a mingling of Web 2.0 technologies, then there’s a million “social media” experts out there that believe they can put together a City Facebook page, some comment fields on a page, and user profiles.

    The more traditional view of “eGovernment” is the use of electronic transactional systems for citizens to access their government to pay bills, apply for permits, etc. This also includes GIS data with various data layers, access to electronic public records, etc.

    Gov 2.0 as I am inferring equates to a participatory or digital democracy, where citizens can directly interact with their elected officials. eGovernment, as traditionally defined, is the backend and more importantly, front end transactional system.

    This comment is becoming a post in of itself. I’d like to see your thoughts and perhaps further analysis on the distinction.

  5. Daniel, Adriel is of a camp that calls electronic government under the umbrella “Government 2.0,” as the next iteration of what existed for the past 300+ years.

    Personally, I oppose versioning the web for the very confusion you wrote about.

  6. I think the entire concept of Government transparency is new to most everyone. We have always had, and more importantly, too often accepted, the Big Brother concept of Government. I don’t think the Web 2.0 concept alone is all it will take to force transparency but I do believe Web 2.0 and Social Media will allow us, as citizens, an easier way to become involved and more outspoken. Change will not come and open access will not become expected if we don’t demand it from our Government. I think the concentration into this area, the public demand, will assist in ‘selling’ the idea.

    Some interesting reading on the subject.

  7. In MY way of thinking “Gov 2.0” is using technology to bring together a nation full of people who are ready to take an active part. More people than ever before based on Voter turnout. Gov 2.0 has never really existed before. When the country was founded, citizens could rarely afford the long trips away from home to go to Philadelphia for those legendary meetings of the “Continental Congress” though their very lives depended on the things decided there.
    In the 60s people had the ways, means and voice to be heard yet came up against a brick wall when they got to Washington.
    But NOW, today, people are depending on what happens in Washington as much as they did during the days the country was born, AND we have even more ways to have our voices heard then anyone could have ever imagined. Top that with an administration in Washington that is using technology to tear down the walls that has surrounded Washington for so long. And there you have what I feel is the essence of Gov 2.0.
    It’s the perfect timing of people who want to finally begin using their voices and a Government who actually wants to listen. The technology is just the vehicle getting one to the other.
    Gov 2.0 is just another item that should simply be placed under the umbrella of, “We The People, In Order to Form a More Perfect Union…”

  8. I wish, hope and dream of a more betterer democracy. I really do. I am a bit anxious, though, that we are starting to believe our own hype.

    WHAT!?! You say.

    Yes, our own hype. The goverati is spending a good amount of time talking to itself. And among itself. And with itself.

    These are heady and exciting times, but people are worried about losing their jobs–alot of the goverati have fairly secure government jobs or contracts–paying their mortages and taking care of their families.

    @Daniel Hoang reminds us, in addition to the hot air we are exchanging, there are efforts for real egovernment bringing meaningful services to citizens. For regular folks to live their lives. Let’s keep our eyes on real life, and act on it, too!

  9. Unfortunately, the new currency of “transparency” conflates “seeing” with “seeing through”. Similarly, being open isn’t the same thing as opening up.

    Meaning, transparency reveals not only what one is doing, but what one might be doing dumb, irrational, or self-indulgent…the failed experiments, the procrastination, the in-fights, the watered-down policy, the word-spinning, that general massaging of messages for public consumption. True transparency would explicate and expose the motives behind the rhetoric. Government transparency should depict a nude (with warts and all) clad in cellophane.

    Some bloggers, the best of the them, are transparent to the extent of surrendering their hubris, missteps, and prejudices to their articles for public scrutiny. We can “see through” them, into the plain, genuine fact of their human frailty. They admit when they f*ck up or harbor an intolerance.

    Gov2.0 isn’t doing that. It’s letting us see, but not see through. Transparency is meaningless otherwise. And they can’t be transparent. The pirranha press, the cynical sharks circle govs 24/7 waiting for even the briefest moment of the most frivolous error, the signal to pounce, rip apart, and eat alive.

    Transparency’s oxygen to breathe is tolerance. The more tolerance, the more transparency can get air. Transparency in the midst of stinging, widespread intolerance merely describes Jesus on the cross. He said it like it was–transparent-like–and got brutally nailed for it.

    What? I’d ask is different about today?


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  11. Adriel – Nice POV. If by “leveler” you mean a balancing mechanism, then certainly it has that potential. Still, there is still an inherent hierarchy that should exist as part of our Republic. I think back to an early forum post by Ari on GovLoop on November 27th: “Business is to Profit as Government is to _________.” My response was “preserving order.”

    We are all in this together. Still, I believe in the role of gatekeeper based on the need for structure and standards; but one who is accessible and whose processes are transparent.

    People have always had the opportunity to be active participants in their government. In that case, democracy is the leveler you speak of. “Gov 2.0” provides an avenue to enable more citizens to be informed and be involved in the democratic process. But they have to take the initiative. If they chose not to, then Gov 2.0 means little and will provide a (newer) way for special interest groups to take the controls –or tighten their grip– as they have done over the last 40-50 years before the Internet.

  12. Great post — awesome comments.

    I have been a proponent of government using technology to connect with more people since I worked on the 1994 and 1996 election campaign teams at AOL. You want to talk about “no one has ever done this before….”?

    I love what is happening, and it’s about time. The question about gatekeepers (and many related comments, above) is an important one. Remember this: technology is just technology. It’s what people do with it that matters. In a government staffed by old-thinking people who want to protect the silos and hierarchies of a (hopefully) by-gone era, new technology tools will accomplish nothing.

    But in what many of us HOPE is a new era in national politics, the opportunity to get our voice actually heard, and to have a direct, technologically-enhanced relationship with people who will take our perspective into account when formulating plans and strategies is an epochal shift.

    To those of you in the trenches, keep up the hard work — it’s really making a difference. And remember to reach out beyond the goverati — good comments above about democracy always being open to input, so the question becomes — who builds the best end-to-end solution? This would look like a department that not only builds the tools, and fills them with dialog and discussion that results in policy. When you can show that a whole new group of people was engaged, and that their engagement furthered the evolution of democracy, then you have really accomplished something.

    Here in the West, there is a perception that those in DC have little idea what’s actually happening on the ground here. When you have people standing up to counter that perception, then you have really accomplished something.

    When people from the Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Interior are reading the tweets and watching the video of Boulder’s Green Tech Meetup, understanding that the Governor’s Energy Office is actively buying emissions credits, then you are accomplishing something.

    Thanks for your hard effort.

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