His thesis: “Many people have commented to me personally, and in general, that the term “Web 2.0” and anything else with “2.0” after it is tired.”
My gut told me that better ideas were out there. As a preliminary test, I recently queried my Twitter followers for ideas about what to rename Government 2.0, and got one great response from Jody Reale. She suggested “Quantum Government,” which I like, because in physics a quantum is the smallest unit that light can be broken into.
Mayor R.T. Rybak is a good choice on this topic, as he used to be a newspaper reporter and worked at a company that produced web-based video.
Rybak makes a number of interesting points. The most interesting to me was that he listed Napster, of all things, as a model for government and public exchange using new technologies. Just as people share music, they should be able to share ideas via the Internet.
“I like anything that breaks down that barrier between people and allows you to build new relationships,” Rybak told Shankman. “People often talk about the Internet as being something that is more isolating … us sitting staring at our screens. No, no, that’s television. The Internet, done right, is really about connecting us all.”
As Shankman responded, “Awesome.”
That said, I couldn’t find a lot of examples in the Minneapolis web site, suggesting once again as if we didn’t know that government is moving slowly in terms of utilizing social media.
Trends from Alan Shark, executive director of the Public Technology Institute, at today’s local government seminar mentioned below:
- Flat to lower spending on information technologies: (no surprise in this economy). This creates pressure to show spending on technology can save money. There is increased pressure to make a ‘business case’ … “to show how technology can actually help in times of distress,” Shark said.
- Greater centralization of IT … combining groups even between entities. “People are reaching out because they have to,” Shark said.
- Regionalism is a necessity. This is interesting. Shark is basically saying that in times of declining budgets, different government units are going to have to share resources. I think of government entities .. cities, libraries, whatever .. as being fiercly protective of their turf.
- Greater use of Multimedia: integrating video, voice and data: “We need to understand how the public will use this because this is how the public will be interacting with us.”
- Social Media and Government. Now we’re talking. Shark didn’t list many examples, though, which is disappointing. He mentions online voting, but that has huge implications that were not discussed.
Questions: how do you get different government entities sharing their IT resources? Shark responded that one option is having the groups called together by an impartial outside entity or a politician. I’m not sure I see any implications in my county, but it’s surely worth giving some thought.
And here’s a surprise: asked for cutting-edge government contact with technology, Shark mentions the virtual world Second Life. That’s pretty remarkable when I can’t imagine any government networks even allow their employees to access it from their computers. What a progressive thought. Here’s one article about how Boston is involved in Second Life.
I just “arrived” for today’s packed agenda during a Microsoft-sponsored workshop on technology and local government. (It’s also sponsored by American City and County magazine, which is where I learned about it). The first speaker, Richard McKinney, a Microsoft guy who used to work for the city of Nashville, just commented that they budgeted $2,500 in training for employees when they consolidated their IT departments. As a city councilman, I can just imagine how tough it was to get training money in a city budget. It was smart of the city to invest in their people.
Someone else just asked, How do you convince a political decision-maker to pay attention to IT? If Microsoft could figure that out and pack the answer in a can, they would make a lot of money! The speaker suggests trying to show decision-makers that they will get more bang for their buck – more return on investment. And that’s true. If you do have any money in your budget, your elected officials will want to spend it wisely.
Speaking of using new technologies to reach the public … here’s the story of what a federal agency, the National Defense University, went through to use the virtual world Second Life to reach the community. It’s a fun little story as the officials describe their efforts to be taken seriously …
If you were asked a few years ago, what keeps government open, the answer would have been clear: the laws regarding open meetings and public records. Today, that’s still true, but clearly the Internet has played a huge role in allowing the exchange and discovery of information about government.
When negotiations began, Google insisted that more than 70 local officials sign non-disclosure agreements forbidding them to talk about the matter. So when two public hearings were held in December 2006 to discuss tax breaks for the company, elected officials weren’t allowed to utter Google’s name. What’s more, local officials helped Google quietly buy up land in the area through a newly created nonprofit that concealed the company’s identity. In all, Google won more than $260 million worth of state and local subsidies — and all of it was worked out behind closed doors.
Wow, for a cutting-edge Internet organization, this is a pretty 19th century approach to democracy. As the article notes, though, pretty much everyone plays this game. So maybe it’s unfair to single out Google. In fact, I know it is unfair to single them out. But perhaps this situation illustrates that no matter how the technology changes, the politics of situations may not.
It’s bad enough, as I’ve written below, that government is failing to interact with the public through social media. Some folks are on the attack against communication. Here’s a link to a sad story about Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin who is suing AOL to find out the name of bloggers who have been critical of Godwin.
Spending money on such a lawsuit is a sad corruption of public resources. The blog itself, MPD Enforcer 2.0, claims to be a place where officers and others can gather to talk, and that right is rather protected in these United States.
There’s no question that blogs, email and the Internet pose a challenge to government in certain circumstances. But not when someone starts a blog critical of government. To do so is an American right. That’s not a challenge. That’s an opportunity for democracy.
And most folks clearly realize that. Read some of the comments posted on the Commercial-Appeal site about the lawsuit; many are hysterical.
As part of my day job, I attended the Internet Strategy Forum in Portland yesterday. As you can see from the link, there were a lot of distinguished panelists who talked about how the Internet ties consumers and businesses together.
There was not one … not one .. and did I say, not one? … reference to government. And when I look at the list of attendees .. well, the lack of government attendees speaks for itself.
This is just sad. There is no place more important for people to interact with another entity than with government. It is government that has powers to give and take away freedom, to tax, to spend, to develop, to lead … and to listen.
And government is not only letting the train go by, it’s starting to look to me like a lot of governments do not know there is a station.
Writer Ellen Perlman notes, “The word cloud shows that visitors to the site search for information on employment issues more than any other subject. ‘Wanted persons’ is the second most popular.”
Well, that’s a state, not a local government, which is my personal area of interest and where citizens engage with a lot of passion with their government. But it’s a start, and a good sign that not everyone is asleep.
You can tell Hall is trying to create more of an effect than just providing information. Clearly, he’s try to set up an atmosphere in which to embrace change.
Says Hall: Pensacola has some of the greatest assets of any Florida community but we are failing in nearly every measure (education, jobs, quality of life, public services, etc.).
Many of us feel it has to do with the political structure of the area. I feel there is no way we can attract outside talent or outside investment without measurable political change.
I think the city is poised for it. In 2006, only three of ten City Council seats were contested. This year all but one are. Many of the races have two challengers.
I think most of the incumbents will return, but a shift of three will make all the difference in the world.
It’s interesting how he is trying to set the stage for change on his blog without slamming someone over the head about who to vote for. Hall is trying to give people little bits of information to carry around, and even share, to support an atmosphere of change. A blog can be so much more than a statement of information about a calendar event. It can set the scene for a gentle version of American revolution.
This arrived in my council email a few minutes ago from a company that helps cities send out customized news feeds to citizens:
I am pleased to announce that the City of Kirkland, WA has launched their email subscription system with GovDelivery. They join the ranks with Bellevue, Lake Forest Park and Vancouver in offering free government to citizen email communication. Because communication is a top priority to them, they were able to get GovDelivery up and running in 6 days! They currently offer 39 subscription items, but intend to add more subscription items and features in the near future. Visit their website and sign up for email updates to see what a great job they did. http://www.ci.kirkland.wa.us/E-Bulletins.htm
I love that reference to ‘free,’ because it is sure hard to imagine charging anyone for this service! Heck, newspapers can’t get people to pay for online content. Anyway, I recommend calling up that link to take a look. What I like about this is that people can request email about specific issues. I was sending out an email bulletin for awhile, and I found folks often care most about one or two items in each bulletin. And of course, which item the person would care about would depend entirely on the person.
You can’t assume someone will call up a lengthy email if they do not know for sure there will be a topic of interest to them within. With personalized news, you can be assured at least the topic is of interest, even if the development is not. At least the citizen is more likely to read the information.
So it’s great to hear of customized news. Here is the text from the Renton list:
The city of Kirkland has recently replaced its e-mail bulletin software and we are in the process of moving all lists over to the new software. We are pleased to offer notices and subscriptions on the following topics at this time.
* Annexation Updates * City Council Agendas * Downtown Strategic Plan Update * Neighborhood News * Shoreline Master Program Update * Touchstone (Park Place), Orni and Altom PARs * NE 85th Street Corridor Improvements Project * Kirkland Wireless Project * Totem Lake Mall Development Update * Kirkland Developers Partnership Forum * Kirkland Events Guide * Kirkland Green E-Updates