Government 2.0: The State of the Meme

Meme – An idea or pattern of thought that “replicates” like a virus by being passed along from one thinker to another

As an idea or pattern of thought government 2.0 (gov 2.0) is still being defined and debated. To some it is merely an extension of Web 2.0, to others it is the serious work of transparency and greater citizen involvement through open data.

Let’s dig into this meme…

Gov 2.0 Summit and Expo

Wow, what an event this was. Tim O’Reilly and his leadership team put on quite a show. I was in attendance on a press badge and was fortunate enough to view the events in the crowd and on the inside.

The event signaled a shock to the Washington DC government crowd. For a long time these beltway folks had been toiling away under the radar before an unsupportive administration. Now, they are in position to make some major moves in the federal sphere.

On the same level of shock, Silicon Valley and the O’Reilly team faced some hard facts about the beltway. Their can-do attitude and forceful energy stepped on one too many toes. And, I think it safe to say turned many off because of the government inefficiencies and roadblocks in the way of innovation and reform.

I saw a little east coast, west coast rivalry pop-up. Fortunately, the show went on and many from around the country attended the event, had a blast, and completely missed out on the kerfuffles.

For an interesting review on the event check out Amy Senger’s ‘The Gov 2.0 Showdown

Celebrity Status

Gov 2.0 has yet to make it big. A google news search shows that only 222 articles mention the term. Few large media outlets are talking about the movement. It has yet to penetrate the consciousness of the average person and more importantly the middle manager.

A google blog search reveals over 40,000 hits. Apparently there is some viral conversations taking place with many thinkers opining on the topic.

The Definition

Is it about personal brands, twitter, and facebook. Or, as Tim O’Reilly says its about government as a platform. Maybe, its about Enterprise 2.0 as Professor Andy McAfee and Andrea Baker have been talking about.

We have yet to come to a solid agreement about the definition. In fact, much of the discussion revolves around each blogger stating their own definition or throwing stones at another’s.

It does appear that gov 2.0 is infiltrating every level of government. With each office incorporating social media, cloud computing, and open API’s into their job buckets. Which leaves some remaining tough questions about openness, transparency, and the role of government in all of this.

Leadership

In an age of personal brands it appears that everyone is a leader in the space of government 2.0. Everyone has done everything and is an expert in all. Just a few years of experience and a blog post published on a prominent website, make you a star.

Sarcasm aside government 2.0 is hard work. It takes community building, relationships, coding, networking, promotion, and more. The most striking leaders in this space are those performing nearly all of those roles. Which means they are often hidden from popular view but deeply influential in their spheres of work.

This hidden work combined with the lack of celebrity status has left a clear opening for profiteers. Many are hoping to be the first to break the story and claim success. A challenge to ethical underpinnings of this new community.

Community

In my opinion the single largest effect of Tim O’Reilly’s move into the gov 2.0 world is to bring all of this hard work to a broader audience. Personally, I feel like I am now connected to every state government, city government, regional federal office, all in addition to the existing Washington DC offices, which are legion.

Beyond that are hundreds of NGO’s on both sides of the aisle and in the middle are pushing agendas, uncovering scandals, and playing with data.

The community encompasses so many folks that it is going to be tough to wrangle all of them together.

The Future

Is very bright. We appear to have at least three more years of enlightened tech policy coming out of the white house. Which filters down to every level of public and private work. Big contracts and big corporations are starting to take notice and follow the money.

The recession too is providing an opportunity for gov 2.0. The realization of improved efficiency and cost savings are helping to overcome transient cultural barriers. I’ve even seen stimulus dollars used for gov 2.0 work (blackberries for Baltimore PD).

Behind the scenes the back channels and ego battles are just as interesting. Players are being challenged, camps are forming, and feelings are being hurt. The traditional way of doing business is being challenged with women asserting their rights in tech. Average folks who normally have no voice are able to trumpet their issues across new communication mediums to make their voice heard and responded too.

I look forward to more rapid growth, another gov 2.0 event, and ever more kerfuffles. I hope the progress and reform continues. I hope the west coast can help break the stranglehold the major defense companies have on government work. I hope that our community overcomes its own ego and looks to the common good.

This piece comes as a follow on to Andrew McAfee’s, Enterprise 2.0: The State of the Meme, written over 3 years ago in June 2006

internet pop culture 2

*Update: this is an update to the original internet pop culture post*

My pop culture is the internet. I love its news and information. I enjoy watching its tv channels and free movies. I do my research, I attend school, and I hang out with my friends.

The internet enhances my life in so many ways. Read on for my favorites of internet pop culture.

First, lets start off with the current slang.

  • Common terms for the internet are: internets, interweb, and intertron.
  • Abbreviations: ur, omw (on my way), OH (overhead), RT (retweet), btw (by the way)
  • Plurality everywhere: jut add “s” to everything, srsly do it, its fun
  • Making up words: like i told a friend the other night, i pretty much mastered the english language 15 years ago, now its time to have some fun with it
  • 80s are back: rad, my favorite word
  • Meme: means something that is hot on the intertron

Next, my top sites. Pulled from the newest version of Firefox (FF3) which captures that data for you:

  1. Gmail
  2. Concord (my online law school)
  3. Twitter
  4. Google Finance
  5. My Life (this site)
  6. Facebook
  7. E-Trade (my bank)

Now, here is how I get my news. My favorite tech news site in the whole world, techmeme. I check it pretty much everyday, multiple times a day. It has a magical algorithm, popularized by google news, that finds popular items through links and then pulls them together. On any given day you can find the best story on a hot new topic as well as the next best articles and all the discusison around them. Truly a cool agreggator of news, much better than RSS in my time starved day.

Beyond that I use google finance for my stock news. NY Times for editorials by thomas friedman and news on the war front in Iraq.

Seems kinda lacking doesn’t it? That is because I get my information from twitter. As of today, Oct 19, I am following 394 people. Except some of them aren’t people they are direct news feeds delivered to me, wherever I am (home, on the go). Then there are my several hundred friends who constantly post the latest news. They select it for me, they are my filter and my RSS feed.

So far its working out really well. I get what I want and my scope is constantly expanded (thx twitter friendses).

Finally, and most importantly, my tv/movies. If you haven’t heard, hulu, is the hottest tv site on the internet. It has free shows/movies/cips. There are commercials but just one and if its a long episode then it’s one every 5-10 minutes. Lately, I have watched:

  • TV: Heroes (season 3), Burn Notice (all seasons), and House.
  • Movie: Groundhog Day, Karate Kid trilogy (go 80’s!), Sleepless in Seattle, Spy Game, and Men in Black.
  • Clips: SNL (saturday night live), Colbert Report, Jon Stewart, Sesame Street.

Well, that’s not everything. I know I left out large sections of the poppy culture but I hope anyone reading this can comment on the stuff I forgot. Thx!

Enterprise 2.0 Conference – Boston

Well…here I am sitting in a grungy boston-style hostel, getting all excited for the Enterprise 2.0 conference. With sessions like the ones listed below, I have high hopes.

  • Social = me first
  • Collective Intelligence: Monkeys or Memes?
  • Social Project Management: Everything Big Is Small Again
  • Leveraging Your Community as a Competitive Weapon

With attendees like Andrew McAfee, Ross Mayfield, Don Tapscott it is sure setting up to be interesting. I hope to hear their innovative insights into the Enterprise 2.0 world. Some pertinent questions I hope to get answered:

  1. What exactly is Enterprise 2.0?
  2. What tools does it utilize?
  3. Which companies are leading this innovation?
  4. How much of this is open and transparent to the public (i.e. will the rest of us benefit from it)?
  5. Philosophical – what is this doing to the corporate structure?

Stay tuned and I will post the answers I get throughout the conference. As well as more blog posts about some of the conference’s interesting points.

Anyway, some other thoughts about the conference…I am worried that the conference planners will focus too much on introducing these tools to a fresh audience, rather than delving into some of the growth and middle to post maturity questions that arise when implementing Ent 2.0 tools. We’ll see…the track I am interested in attending Social Tools for the Enterprise.

Finally, let me send off with a mention to my new reading interest:

The book was recommended to me by a colleague, one of those “you need to read this right now” statements. You know where the conversation gets very serious and you take it like gospel. Well I picked it up and it is a compelling read so far. In fact, I can’t help but think that Web 2.0 is a natural progression to the singularity. I mean the information that is coming out of wikipedia, digg, delicious, the blogosphere is putting so much information and knowledge at our fingertips. The next logical step is to design software to cogitate it all.

So far that is what the book is about and especially how that software will eventually be able to “cogitate” it 100 times better than our brains can. Then the singularity has come and past and robots are officially here…Roy (the author) is predicting this to happen by 2050. I think Web 2.0 will make that date come sooner. A recommended read definitely.

Thanks for the read and happy wiki days to you.

Steve