Stay Wired to Share


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.

4 thoughts on “Stay Wired to Share

  1. I hear you about the silos. Wondering though – Ning itself is a walled garden in the classic style of most SocNets. So it’s a kind of silo too. So moving the community from inside this or that enterprise to GovLoop is really only a halfway solution? Or maybe a transitional one?

  2. GovLoop is open membership – more of an anti-spam measure having to sign up. I guess my point is that the walls are inside us.

  3. Adriel

    I know this is an old post, I just recently ran across it again and thought to comment.

    What you wrote above summarizes the problem very well. It’s not about the technology, it’s the culture.

    I just recently went through a “low” where I nearly decided to jump ship and stop trying to change the system from within.

    However, after much thought and quite a bit of advice from friends and colleagues, I made the decision to stick it out. Walking away from the problem would be easier, but the easy decision rarely involves doing the right thing.


  4. Glad you’re plugging on, Bob! I regularly go through the same trough, as I think a lot of us do. I just went through all my “Gov 2.0” postings and am working on a retrospective that will also emphasize not walking away.

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