Tag Archive | "goverati"

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Government 2.0 Expo Showcase: Women By the Numbers


While I was traveling the last few days, a minor controversy seemed to flame up about a lack of women in some of the Gov 2.0 events being planned by Tim O’Reilly and associated crew.   They’re welcome to comment below, but I see no reason to call out individual people and their various comments.   Here, I want to  personally comment on an event I’ve been involved with planning for Tim during the last few months, and how women have intersected with it in interesting ways.

I’m a scientist and I tend to deal with quantifying data as a mechanism for seeing patterns, and that’s what I intend to do in this brief post.  As many of you know I’m the program committee co-chair for the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase that is happening the day before the Gov 2.0 Summit (everyone, men and women, are able to register, incidentally).  Anyone could submit any proposal for a five minute talk for the Showcase, and on Monday, July 20, we chose 25 fantastic proposals to become talks (as I write, notices are being sent out by O’Reilly Media).  I believe this data, previously not publicly known, bears on some of the issues being discussed.

We received 189 valid proposals for talks at Expo Showcase.  A few people, men and women, submitted two proposals, but the vast majority submitted just one.  Of these 189, only 41 (or 22% of the total) were from women, with 147 proposals submitted by men.  I have no reason in particular to offer for this. Perhaps women would like to comment on this blog about why a two month open call for proposals for anyone with a good idea for a five minute talk about Government 2.0 was dominated by 78% men.  Whatever the explanation, I don’t think it had very much to do with the organizers of the event, who did quite a lot of outreach to tell people about what was happening.

Nevertheless, despite a minority of women submitting talk ideas, those relatively few ideas generally fared well as the program committee voted and discussed the agenda for Expo Showcase.  Of the 25 talks chosen, 8 of them, or 32% of the total, were submitted by women, and the remaining 17 were from men.  Note that, perhaps counter-intuitively to those protesting the lack of women presenters at events like this, the percent of women being accepted for talks is higher than the percent of women who submitted.  I think that few women would have a problem with this outcome.

Further, this means that the “rate of success” for a female proposal to Expo Showcase was approximately twice as high as a male proposal (20% chance of being chosen if female vs. 11% if male).   Now, I should point out that at no time am I aware of gender being explicitly discussed, in particular on the final conference call where we decided the 25 talks.  We talked about the merits of the projects, the proposals, and the speakers.  So, we didn’t choose women at twice the rate because they were women, but rather on average twice as many female proposals (vs. male) tended to rate extremely well by our criteria.  Bravo.

Singling out Tim O’Reilly for critique is a bit narrow, and approaches what I’d call a low blow.  I should point out that the Expo Showcase program committee is 38% women, and while Tim certainly knows what we’re up to, he didn’t directly play a role in deciding which proposals became talks.  It is also worth noting that my co-chair for the Showcase is Laurel Ruma, a woman.  It is additionally noteworthy that the event chiefs for O’Reilly Media and TechWeb that head up planning for the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase and Summit are Gina Blaber and Jen Pahlka, both women.  There are lots of women involved at all points in the decisionmaking process with these events, so if shotgun-style critics want to “blame” people for perceived problems, they may as well accuse the entire crew of people, men and women. Not that I necessarily think anyone should be “blamed.”

I only speak for myself and don’t want to discuss Gov 2.0 Summit and Web 2.0 Summit too deeply as I’ve been involved less with those events, but I think the notion that Tim O’Reilly and anyone else involved in planning these events is trying to do anything but find the best possible people and have influential events is silly.  Summits are high level events as Tim points out in his post here, and attendees want to see high level, influential people; many of them happen to be male.

Everyone can always strive to be better.  Intelligent suggestions are always welcome.  But the way in which some people approached lobbying for more women to be involved in these Gov 2.0 events was not only tasteless and somewhat misinformed, it may have been counterproductive.  No one likes being publicly blindsided with baseless accusations.

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Negative Conversations With Your Attackers


I saw an interesting quotation this morning from a Social Media Club event in DC that focused on crisis communications: “Every negative attack is the start of a conversation.“  I’m not sure I agree.

“Conversation” is perhaps the hottest buzzword of Web 2.0 – your customers are having conversations, companies should participate in conversations, new media marketing is a conversation, if you’re not part of the conversation it’s happening without you, and so forth. Entire books have been written on the topic. Even I’m guilty of promoting this idea in the government space.

And conversations are fine. But is every negative attack truly the beginning of a conversation? Does every frown have the potential to be turned upside down? (And how does that scale?)

Having a conversation about some one’s negative reaction to your brand, company, government office, situation etc. is a nice strategy, but the concept of negative attacks leading to positive conversations is based on the assumption that people will always engage in rational discussions with you.

They don’t. Naivety, ideology, and stupidity are all common in society’s discourses. People make emotionally-fueled arguments all the time (this Fox News “discussion” about views on abortion and the President receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame isn’t a bad example). People often cling to strongly-held beliefs, even in the face of contradictory information, or data that oppose their views. Many conversations are irrational, or at best only partly rational. I would go so far as to say that partly rational discussions are the norm.

Economics is perhaps the field of study most heavily influenced by the finding that people behave irrationally. Traditional assumptions about economic behavior included participants in financial markets having perfect information and making rational choices related to adding value (i.e., obtaining money). But more recent research has shown that this is often not the case, and that this irrationality can spawn larger effects through complex systems.

Perhaps also with the field of communications. As hip as the concept of “communications as conversations” is, sometimes it’s best to not touch your detractors with a ten-foot pole. When peoples’ comments are irrational, when their views ignore available facts, when they’re too busy or too dumb or too angry to care what you have to say, a negative attack isn’t the start of a conversation. It’s the end of a relationship.

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Twitter is a PR Platform That Screens Your Calls


Nearly every day I get asked a version of the question: “Why do you like Twitter so much”?

The answer is complicated, and I have written about this in a number of different ways. But I’ve been trying to think of a great soundbite to sum up why I love Twitter.

Here it is: Twitter is a PR platform that screens your incoming calls.

What do I mean by that? Twitter is a versatile, powerful way to publicize things of interest to you. But it’s not just a push – it’s bidirectional. Just like a traditional press release will have a contact person and a phone number or email address at the bottom, a person on Twitter has a handle or nickname – and that is how people can get in touch with you and ask you questions.

Here’s the difference. When someone calls you, it’s immediate – you either answer within 10 seconds or you do not; and you probably have no information about the person on the other end. Email’s slightly better because incoming email goes into a holding bin – your inbox – but you still may know very little about the sender.

When someone tweets you, not only does the tweet effectively go into a holding bin, but their entire usage of Twitter is also public. You can quickly see their mini-biography, a link to their homepage, how many times they’ve tweeted, who they follow, and even mine the topic matter or other information about their tweets. You can know a lot about the persons you will deal with, before you actually have to deal with them.

So the very nature of Twitter makes it a de facto ‘call screener’ – you can monitor the conversation about your topic, scope out incoming traffic, and selectively join conversations on your terms. That’s a really powerful approach to public relations, and it has ramifications not just for individuals, but also for businesses and the government.

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Expand Your Twitter Base


If you use the popular microsharing site Twitter, you’re probably familiar with the idea that people are communicating in different ways than ever before. Twitter is purposely not well-defined, but it can be viewed as a massively multichannel instant messenger, a text talk radio channel, and a modern mobile CB radio.

Have you assessed your last 40 tweets lately? There’s no right nor wrong way to use Twitter per se, but many people would like more followers. However, if you use Twitter primarily as a broadcast IM tool that no one else is listening to, you may as well just use Yahoo Messenger, or text messaging, or talk on the phone. You’re not doing it ‘wrong’ but you’re also not maximizing the power of the microsharing platform – and to some extent you’re also wasting your effort.

Why pretend to broadcast when you’re really narrowcasting?

If you want to expand your base, provide value to people you’re not personally familiar with. This might mean linking to interesting material, using hashtags to create metadata within your tweets, or simply being funny or interesting enough for people to re-tweet you. Provide useful material that can be discovered by strangers.

Gaming the Twitter system to accumulate new followers is generally just a short-term strategy. What you really want to do is be true to yourself, and execute against your core set of beliefs, values, and interests. Then, you’ll be happy about what you’re writing about, and attract a group of followers in microniches of interest to you over the longer term.

You might be happy to use Twitter to chat with your friends, and that’s fine. But if you hope to expand your base for personal or professional reasons, and your last 40 tweets are 80% or more personal chatter, no one else is listening to you. So why would they ever be tempted to follow?

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Government 2.0: The Midlife Crisis


This post was originally published on ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite) on March 5, 2009, shortly after President Obama was inaugurated.

Excitement about the government’s use of Web 2.0 technology has swept Washington, DC. One of President Obama’s first acts in office was to issue a directive calling for a more transparent, collaborative, and participatory government. Websites like USA.gov have launched new Web 2.0 features, such as RSS news services. And the President got to keep his precious BlackBerry.

At the grassroots level, a group of knowledgeable insiders, the so-called “goverati,” is spreading information across social networks. The recently formed Government 2.0 Club, modeled after the popular Social Media Club, will provide a further mechanism for branding events and sharing wisdom. And non-profit organizations like The Sunlight Foundation are developing applications and hosting events in an effort to make government more transparent and ultimately more accountable to the public.

From the outside, everything looks splendid. But the truth on the ground is that Government 2.0 is gummed up like molasses on a steamy afternoon.

Problems Bubbling Up

Relatively archaic government policies, rules, and customs that impede progress are being covered by the Washington Post and reach the highest levels of government. To this day, Department of Defense workers, even some of whom are in charge of new media output, cannot access YouTube. At one government agency, public affairs employees use government-purchased Macs and wireless cards to circumvent social networks being classified as “dating sites” — by other employees! And in extraordinary cases, contractors hired by agencies to carry out the work of Government 2.0 are banned from doing the very job they were hired to do.

Meanwhile, amid rapid iPhone sales and the permeation of mobile technology throughout society, senior counter-intelligence officials publicly discuss security risks they face while traveling. Hackers have a new priority target: the President’s PDA.

All this is happening while many of Government 2.0’s supposedly biggest fans — the Web 2.0 enthusiasts — behave like the biggest critics of government efforts, particularly regarding citizen participation in policy making. The rejuvenated WhiteHouse.gov website, the newly launched Recovery.gov site for making the economic recovery more transparent, and the preferential use of YouTube to share information with the public have all been criticized, often in near real-time. Adding to the confusion, social media news reports about such things as the White House’s use of Twitter have turned out to be unfounded because of spoofed accounts and guesswork rather than source checking. And salivating hackers at events like DEFCON discuss the many vulnerabilities of social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, which are nearly ubiquitous among young professionals.

The Midlife Crisis

Government 2.0 has reached its midlife crisis. Despite some leadership from influential individuals on using social software in government, there is still in many cases a disconnect between authorities issuing directives and ground troops carrying them out. In some corridors of Washington, this impervious middle section of government is jokingly referred to as “the clay layer,” the layer through which no light shall pass. Resistant to change and adhering strictly to doctrine even when nonsensical, people in the clay layer can halt progress. Despite their intentions and being in a strategic position, they often stop the progress being called for.

This midlife crisis was pointed out by one of Government 2.0’s most outspoken evangelists, Chris Rasmussen, of the U.S. intelligence community, at a well-attended event held recently in the Washington area. As covered in a widely read trade press article, Rasmussen lamented the impossibly high standards that social tools are held to, even within government firewalls. Furthermore, many tools, such as Intellipedia, are used as supplements to (rather than substitutes for) legacy systems. As Clay Shirky once quipped, this is like putting an engine on a rowboat to make the oars go faster.

At this crossroads, “creative destruction” will require hard decisions about shutting down certain systems and processes and focusing employees on new ones. Employees at the grassroots level need to be given true executive empowerment, rather than dictatorial directives. But how to achieve this?

A Way Forward

In about a month, thought leaders from Washington and beyond will convene for the Government 2.0 Camp, an “unconference” designed to hash out these issues. The event is expected to build on previous ones, and its output will surely guide future agendas. Even now, organizers and other thought leaders are debating how Government 2.0 Camp can and should be used, and they are doing it in the open. On the agenda? How social software affects information security; social technology as part of everyday work versus fad products to be procured; and how to get citizens more involved in solving government problems.

An influential military thinker, Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, once said: “You have a choice: you can either create your own future, or you can become the victim of a future that someone else creates for you. By seizing the transformation opportunities, you are seizing the opportunity to create your own future.” How will Government 2.0 advocates create their own future?

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Citizens Are Conversations


Post-inauguration Washington, D.C. has been very interesting from the standpoint of the technology community.  From the top down, all indications are that within their limitations, leadership in the new administration is moving forward on a platform of more transparent and collaborative government.  And from the bottom up, a group of people dubbed the “Goverati” are using their knowledge of government and social technologies to influence the overall Government 2.0 movement.

Social technologies like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter used to be collectively termed “new media” – but that adjective isn’t accurate any longer.  Rapid, online, multimedia information flow about conflicts in Mumbai and Gaza, a dramatic plane crash in the Hudson river, the presidential inauguration and more have made it clear that new media is now more aptly called “now media,” as I remarked on January 20th.

But it would be misleading to suggest that social technologies are simple merely because they are prevalent – they’re anything but.  Social media is a rapidly evolving ecosystem.  The experts debate constantly at conferences and in the blogosphere.  There’s no rule book.  Social media is a giant, chaotic experiment.

So, for a newcomer to using these tools, everything can seem overwhelming.  Many people ask me how to use social software to communicate what their office or agency is doing.  There is no one, simple answer, but perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that social media is social – it is about the conversation that people are having now, about you or your interests, whether or not you’re a part of it.

Here, I want to advance the notion that citizens are not mere receiving vessels for press releases and whatever you put on your government website.  They’re not a captive audience.  They are groups of individuals having conversations with their families, at the proverbial water cooler, and on popular social media sites like the blog ReadWriteWeb, the microsharing site Twitter, and the video conversation platform Seesmic.  Social networks people form online are becoming an increasingly important and powerful force in their lives and one need only look to the election of President Obama to see the effects that they can have.

Once you acknowledge that citizens are conversations, what do you do next?  Generally, you want to find people talking about your topic of interest, listen to what they’re saying, participate in the conversation, and then start new topics of conversation.  Tip-toe into the chaos in the order outlined above.  As a DC-based communications consultant once wrote: blog last.  Below, I briefly outline some other tips to guide you into the world of citizen social media.

It’s good to be a RAT: Unless you’re a computer programmer, social media isn’t really about technology.  It’s about people talking to people. Social interactions have a lot to do with personality and trust.  As wine entrepreneur and social media maven Gary Vaynerchuk suggests, try as much as possible to be a social RAT: real, authentic, and transparent.

Street smarts count more than book smarts: A lot of social media is learned by doing, and more importantly through trial-and-error experimentation.  Speaking in a transparent manner with a human voice can’t be taught easily in a book or at a conference.  The same is true for building and maintaining trusted relationships with people.  Useful metaphors can be found in organizations as diverse as old-school journalists and the mafia or other crime organizations.

Citizens are talking about your brand: Traditional public relations unidirectional, and has been called things like “outbox only” and “fire and forget.”  Government entities need to pay more attention to their brands, and who is talking about them.  Organizations should talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships, because word of mouth is still the most powerful force for spreading trusted information.  If you don’t know who’s out there talking about your brand, how to you know who to influence when the time comes?

Deploy ambassadors on a lethal generosity mission: Organizations should belong to a community and allow some employees to be individually empowerful.  By being the most generous member of a community, they may become the most trusted. Ambassadors should have knowledge but also great personalities, exhibiting openness, transparency, accuracy, honesty, and respect.  They can build valuable new relationships, cheaply.

Engage minds with indirect, intimate influence: Return-on-investment (ROI) is quickly becoming return-on-engagement, or ROE, because personal engagements with people and their word-of-mouth are the new “reach” of messages.  Use indirect, intimate influence to get that ROE.  Influence people through being a valuable member of their community.

Seek out government role models: Colleen Graffy from the State Department successfully used Twitter to connect with overseas journalists as part of her public diplomacy mission.  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uses a public blog called Evolution of Security to listen to travelers and their complaints – and overtly discuss policies and problems with them.   Representative John Culberson from Texas uses live-video service Qik to better communicate with his constituents.  What these three people, and others, have in common is that each one of them is a RAT (in a good way) and that they have learned, through trial and error and experimentation, the lessons above.

As top-down decisions trickle throughout government and grassroots efforts propagate upward, are you prepared to join the conversation?  It’s happening with or without you.

This article originally appeared in the VIP Contributors section of FedScoop.

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Citizens are Conversations


This post was originally published on Fedscoop on March 4, 2009.

Post-inauguration Washington, DC has been very interesting from the standpoint of the technology community. From the top down, all indications are that within their limitations, leadership in the new administration is moving forward on a platform of more transparent and collaborative government. And from the bottom up, a group of people dubbed the “Goverati” are using their knowledge of government and social technologies to influence the overall Government 2.0 movement.

Social technologies like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter used to be collectively termed “new media” – but that adjective isn’t accurate any longer. Rapid, online, multimedia information flow about conflicts in Mumbai and Gaza, a dramatic plane crash in the Hudson river, the presidential inauguration and more have made it clear that new media is now more aptly called “now media,” as I remarked on January 20th.

But it would be misleading to suggest that social technologies are simple merely because they are prevalent – they’re anything but. Social media is a rapidly evolving ecosystem. The experts debate constantly at conferences and in the blogosphere. There’s no rule book. Social media is a giant, chaotic experiment.

So, for a government newcomer to using these tools, everything can seem overwhelming. Many people ask me how to use these tools to communicate what their office or agency is doing. There is no one, simple answer, but perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that social media is social – it is about the conversation that people are having now, perhaps about you or your interests, whether or not you’re a part of it.

Here, I want to advance the notion that citizens are not mere receiving vessels for press releases and whatever you put on your government website. They’re not a captive audience. They are groups of individuals having conversations with their families, at the proverbial water cooler, and on popular social media sites like the blog ReadWriteWeb, the microsharing site Twitter, and the video conversation platform Seesmic. Social networks people form online are becoming an increasingly important and powerful force in their lives and one need only look to the election of President Obama to see the effects that they can have.

Once you acknowledge that citizens are conversations, what do you do next? Generally, you want to find people talking about your topic of interest, listen to what they’re saying, participate in the conversation, and then start new topics of conversation. Generally, you want to tip-toe into the chaos in the order outlined above. As a DC-based communications consultant once wrote: blog last. Below, I briefly outline some other tips to guide you into the world of citizen social media.

It’s good to be a RAT: Unless you’re a computer programmer, social media isn’t really about technology. It’s about people talking to people. Social interactions have a lot to do with personality and trust. As wine entrepreneur and social media maven Gary Vaynerchuk suggests, try as much as possible to be a social RAT: real, authentic, and transparent.

Street smarts count more than book smarts: A lot of social media is learned by doing, and more importantly through trial-and-error experimentation. Speaking in a transparent manner with a human voice can’t be taught easily in a book or at a conference. The same is true for building and maintaining trusted relationships with people. Useful metaphors can be found in organizations as diverse as old-school journalists and the mafia or other crime organizations.

Citizens are talking about your brand: Traditional public relations unidirectional, and has been called things like “outbox only” and “fire and forget.” Government entities need to pay more attention to their brands, and who is talking about them). Organizations should talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships, because word of mouth is still the most powerful force for spreading trusted information. If you don’t know who’s out there talking about your brand, how to you know who to influence when the time comes?

Deploy ambassadors on a lethal generosity mission: Organizations should belong to a community and allow some employees to be individually empowerful. By being the most generous member of a community, they may become the most trusted (http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/2008/10/using-lethal-ge.html). Ambassadors should have knowledge but also great personalities, exhibiting openness, transparency, accuracy, honesty, and respect. They can build valuable new relationships, cheaply (http://www.briansolis.com/2008/07/comcast-cares-and-why-your-business.html).

Engage minds with indirect, intimate influence: Return-on-investment (ROI) is quickly becoming return-on-engagement, or ROE, because personal engagements with people and their word-of-mouth are the new “reach” of messages. Use indirect, intimate influence (http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2009/01/government-20-how-social-media-could-transform-gov-pr005.html) to get that ROE. Influence people through being a valuable member of their community.

Seek out government role models: Colleen Graffy from the State Department successfully used Twitter to connect with overseas journalists as part of her public diplomacy mission (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/23/AR2008122301999.html). The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uses a public blog called Evolution of Security (http://www.tsa.gov/blog/) to listen to travelers and their complaints – and overtly discuss policies and problems with them. Representative John Culberson from Texas uses live-video service Qik (http://qik.com/johnculberson) to better communicate with his constituents. What these three people, and others, have in common is that each one of them is a RAT (in a good way) and that they have learned, through trial and error and experimentation, the lessons above.

As top-down decisions trickle throughout government and grassroots efforts propagate upward), are you prepared to join the conversation? It’s happening) with or without you.

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Government 2.0: The Rise of the Goverati


This post was originally published on ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite) on February 4, 2009, shortly after President Obama took office. It was important because it defined a group of people (i.e., the “goverati”) inside and outside government making IT, social media, and other reform and innovation happen.

Everyone knows how well Barack Obama’s presidential campaign made use of new media to raise money and market the candidate. We also know how big a role social technology played during inauguration week, from handheld flip HD footage appearing on network TV to people reporting on Twitter about what they liked and disliked. After President Obama took office, spirited debates proliferated in the blogosphere about whether or not whitehouse.gov is Web 2.0-enabled and what the role of President Obama’s CTO might be. But one striking trend has largely flown under the national radar: the rise of the goverati.

What is the goverati? It is made up of people with first-hand knowledge of how the government operates, who understand how to use social software to accomplish a variety of government missions, and who want to use that knowledge for the benefit of all.

The goverati includes not only government employees, but also people from think tanks, trade publications, and non-profits. And it includes high-profile thinkers outside of the government who have an interest in a more open, transparent, and efficient government; people such as Joe Trippi, Craig Newmark, and Tim O’Reilly. Using formal and informal social networks, the goverati is networking, sharing information, and changing how parts of the government interact with each other and with citizens.

About a week ago, President Obama issued a memo on this very topic. The memo, which affects all Executive Branch employees, has three main pillars: government should be more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Social software will be part of an overall strategy to make this happen, spearheaded by the CTO, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the General Services Administration (GSA). The naming of a “New Media” czar, Macon Phillips, will no doubt push the process along and keep branches well informed.

There are many barriers to this kind of change, so many they would be overwhelming to list. But the changes that are happenening are being covered by the mainstream press, and they are being enacted mainly by — you guessed it — the goverati.

Case in point: webmasters. Numerous policies and customs restrict the government’s use of things like commercial websites to host video and cookies to track visitors. Insiders from across the government have written a number of white papers that explain the problems (without using jargon) and outline reasonable solutions (here’s one of those white papers).

Former CIO of the Department of Defense, Dr. Linton Wells II, often comments to me that battles in government are often won by the most persistent. And the goverati are certainly persistent. It knows that momentum and timing are on its side, and it is pressing its agenda on Washington.

But changing the government is not like changing Apple Computer. President Obama issuing a directive is not the same as Steve Jobs issuing one. It simply doesn’t work that way, for all kinds of reasons. To change government, you must be persistent, have a hook, and know when and how to leverage connections and power to “muscle” change. And there are usually competing factions, outside interests, political seasons, etc.; it’s a very delicate business.

But interestingly, just as the goverati is fighting for a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government, it is also leveraging the social tools it loves so much to become a body more powerful than the sum of its parts. The informal Government 2.0 social network GovLoop was developed by a DHS employee in his spare time; in a few months, it has surged to over 5000 members. Intelink, the intelligence community’s internal social network and information hub, is awash in blogs and other communication about the topic. Events are sprouting up everywhere, most notably non-profit ones planned by insiders and advertised primarily by word of mouth.

The Sunlight Foundation, which uses the power of the Internet to shine light on the interplay of money, lobbying, and government, is hosting an unconference in late February called Transparency Camp, in which open-government advocates from all walks of life (tech, policy, non-profit, etc.) can talk across organizational and party lines in a casual atmosphere about new strategies for goverment transparency. It is sold out. This is exactly the kind of event you can expect the goverati in Washington and elsewhere to be holding in the next year as we transform President Obama’s memo into a reality within government.

Closer to home, three partners and I have recently established the Government 2.0 Club, modeled on Social Media Club. Government 2.0 Club will bring together thought leaders in government, academia, and industry from across the country to explore how social media and Web 2.0 technologies can create a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government. Local “Clubs” will hopefully also sprout up to discuss issues specific to them. And the first Government 2.0 Camp is happening in Washingston in late March.

The excitement over new social technologies has not abated in Washington. Change is indeed on the way. The intriguing part is the mechanism by which it is happening. By using these social tools to network and share information among themselves, the goverati is helping to spread the use of these very tools throughout the government.

Dr. Mark Drapeau is a biological scientist, government consultant, and author. He has a B.S. and Ph.D. in animal behavior, conducted postdoctoral research on complex genomic and neural systems, and has published writing in Science, Nature, Genome Research, American Scientist, the New York Times, the Washington Times, and other venues.

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