Last night the Social Media Club of DC organized a Government 2.0 discussion in downtown DC. They put together a great panel of speakers that tried to define exactly what 2.0 is, what the government should be doing in social media and how quickly the Obama administration can really foster change. The event was held at the offices of the Partnership for Public Service and was standing room only.
The panel was moderated by Steve Radick of Booz Allen Hamilton. The panelists were Chris Dorobek, former Editor of Federal News Radio and Federal News Radio co-anchor, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, Mark Drapeau, Associate Research Fellow at the National Defense University and Steve Field, Media Relations Manager, Ground Systems at BAE Systems.
The conversation was very animated, and the crowd was Twittering questions to Ravick the moderator. This created a somewhat amusing scene, with many trying to simultaneously watch the panelists and look down to tap out their tweets.
Here are some points stressed by the panelists:
Chris Dorobek — 2.0 isn’t about the technology, it’s about freeing the data and tapping into the wisdom of the crowd. Everyone is always smarter than the one, and that’s a different kind of mindset for government. In a very interesting and original (to me) analogy, Chris called 2.0 really just netcentric operations without killing people. It’s the same concept of making the information immediately available to those that need it at critical points/times. He’s a big fan of DC’s Vivek Kundra and thinks he should be the new federal CTO, and pointed out he’d be more a CIO than CTO. Offered his card and radio interview to Jacob from http://www.theextraordinaries.org/ during the Q&A when Jacob despaired over how to get government to pay attention to his crowd-sourcing application. Chris’s passion and respect for public service really came through.
Mark Drapeau — In his opinion change will take a while, Obama will not work miracles. But what the administration is doing brings a lot of attention and attracts big tech names to DC. When it comes to 2.0 innovation this is the place to be, eclipsing New York City and the former Silicon Alley. Mark agreed with the set the data free theme and gave John Hale who works in 2.0 at DNI credit for first showing him sharing data is more effective than locking it down.
Steve Field — One of Steve’s themes was stressing the feedback loop. Government shouldn’t view 2.0 as just more ways to reach the public, government needs to make sure there are ways to receive feedback from citizens. Steve worried that blogs were all government cared about and worried about a day when every mid-level government administrator would have one because they think they should. When challenged on that by the other panelists who said at least those folks were trying, he clarified to say what he was against was a simplistic equation of 2.0 equals blog. Steve suggested asking for forgiveness rather than permission to get things done. He also hoped Obama would continue the devotion to 2.0 tools, noting how the Twitter stream stopped right after the election.
Steve Radick recognized Jeffrey Levy in the front row, Web Manager for the EPA and active member of the Federal Web Manager’s Council. Jeffrey pointed the audience to www.webcontent.gov as a valuable resource and also mentioned the Council’s white paper on removing obstacles for 2.0 adoption by government. I was very happy he did, because I had tweeted Ravick to ask the panel about that excellent document.
After the event broke up I ran into three people I knew of online but had never met. Steve Ressler is the founder of GovLoop, the social network for government. Andy Krzmarzick works for the USDA Graduate School and with Steve launched www.iampublicservice.org. Helen Mosher is the new media guru for AFCEA. Networking with people like this is the best part of SMCDC.
Andy thought more examples of government adoption of 2.0 should have been highlighted, and talked about the need for a central repository of the best examples. Steve really liked the fact that the room contained advocates of government 2.0 from different perspectives — PR folks, consultants, non-profits, media, and agency employees. Helen had attended an AFCEA 2.0 event that morning in Bethesda that was mostly government folks interested in 2.0, and tonight she thought it was mostly non-government folks looking to help government implement. She’ll be working through AFCEA to bring the two constituencies together.
If you’re in the DC area and interested in how government is changing how it communicates with the public, I hope to meet you at the next event.
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