I’ve spent the past few days at a symposium in Berkley, California and came away with a question: “Will the next President take advantage of the new tools of technology commonly called ‘Web 2.0?’”
The definition of Web 2.0 is still evolving, but its elements are increasingly moving from toys to tools – text messaging, Second Life, YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia. Don Tapscott, in his book “Wikinomics” talks about how these new technologies are changing corporate business models. But how about government?
The impact of Web 2.0 is starting to bleed into political campaigns – just look at the YouTube videos about the presidential candidates— and into the civic engagement elements of elected officials, such as California Assemblyman Tom McClintock’s blog that is influencing that state’s budget debate. . . . But what about the “real” government?
The Berkley symposium was a gathering of a handful of state officials from around the country who came together to ponder the implications of Web 2.0 for state government. Their deliberations might have some predictive powers for the federal government. It certainly triggered some thinking on my part!
Some high points from the presentations and discussion:
So how does government fit in this world? Can it change incrementally, or will it go through a disruptive change with new business models? Right now, it is an uneasy fit. Several state government Chief Information Officers at the symposium noted that many state agencies block employees from visiting sites such as YouTube, E-Bay, Second Life, and blogs – under the rationale that they are preserving bandwidth, or preventing employees from engaging in inappropriate activities. This is may have the effect of isolating government employees from the tools that citizens and businesses use to communicate and engage each other.
However, some agencies at the federal are stepping forward, especially those with younger employees such as the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community. There, they are often using Web 2.0 tools internally, to do their work in very different ways. The Intelligence Community has Intellipedia. The Army has created on-line collaborative games for recruiting, such as America’s Army. Most recently, the State Department has created Diplopedia. These are all designed to serve internal agency needs. What are some of the other (citizen-facing) opportunities for government, to make government smaller, more personal? Symposium participants came up with a short list of things that government could do to participate in the Web 2.0 world:
The symposium organizers plan to develop a white paper for government leaders in the next few months. The examples developed at the symposium are still formative. Do you have ideas or examples of how Web 2.0 could be used in federal agencies or programs that the next President should follow through on?