This evening I was reminded about a point Canadian govie Nick Charney made in a recent chat – tools like Twitter are fantastic for connecting those in government (or anywhere, really) who are “wired to share.” That resonates with my strong opinion that “Government 2.0” is about a culture, not any particular set of tools. Whenever folks start wanting to can the term, which is indeed becoming a bit played, I simply think “democracy.”
Also this week, I was hearing a lot about SharePoint, the enterprise social network Microsoft sells to government agencies. One of the passing comments I noticed was an argument that Twitter and Facebook and the like will never be fully applicable to government (again, extend this argument to anywhere) because critical information isn’t protected.
Now, most of my readers know that I’m a big fan of GovLoop, the Ning-based social network focused for government employees. The reason I like GovLoop is is does exactly what a locked-down enterprise network doesn’t – it cuts through silos to get folks from all different agencies and levels of government talking with each other. Twitter functions in quite the same way.
So here’s the issue – the problem IS NOT security. The problem is that there aren’t really that many people whose default mode is sharing. Social media is radically changing things by allowing us to connect and share, but we’re still a minority in a very large, very hierarchical, command and control structure.
So, I say we ought to drop all the “midlife crisis” talk. We’re vastly outnumbered, the movement’s popularity right now is accepted as a “fad,” and if we buy into that, the momentum for reform is lost. This is a long, hard battle – one of those generational struggles.
Will we rise with collaboration, trust and openness, or will we be swallowed in a Sargasso Sea of bureaucracy or jump over to the private sector?
~Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and host of Government 2.0 Radio.