I had the good fortune to attend and present at the Gov 2.0 Camp in LA this last weekend put on by Alan Silberberg (@You2Gov) and Lovisa WIlliams (@Lovisatalk). Kudos to both Alan and Lovisa for the great event that they put together. It was an impressive gathering of people and ideas – both in person and online. Attendees included representatives from Microsoft (one of the sponsors), Google, the Kennedy School at Harvard, a Hollywood screenwriter and many, many others. Here the four primary things I came away with.
It’s about the people. This isn’t a new concept, but one that frequently seems to get lost in the noise about Twitter, Facebook, and other social media tools. Annie over at ReThink wrote a great piece about it here. And to be clear, it is about both the end-user constituents and the people about government. There are people on both ends of the conversation. Yes, one represents and is bound by an institution, but they are still people.
There are two sides to the story. Gov 2.0 is about rebuilding relationships between government and citizens in a new way. It is about both sides of the equation taking risks, opening up to each other, and (dare I say it?) being vulnerable. Isn’t that what being in a relationship is all about? But so far most of the focus has been on the government side opening up, assuming that because people have over 500 friends on Facebook that they will include government in their conversations. I am not so sure. I believe that government has to take the first step, and probably the second and third, but we as citizens need to be open to allowing government to be more like us, to make mistakes.
Moving from a monologue to a dialogue. For too long government communication has primarily been like a megaphone – when it is used it is one way and tends to overpower any other conversation. Admittedly, there have been outreach efforts in the past for two-way dialogue such as listening sessions, but in my experience these are often few and far between, and dominated by special interest groups. Slowly, this is beginning to change as there are more and more two-way conversations going on between government and citizens.
Better engagement by government is an international issue. It seems obvious, but sometimes we forget that countries around the globe are struggling with how to use social engagement platforms to better engage internally within and across agencies, and externally with citizens, businesses, and groups. I was surprised at the number of international participants that were at the Camp and what a great diversity of opinions and ideas they provided.
All in all it was a fabulous experience and I met some amazing people. The Gov 2.0 is still in its infancy and has a long way to go. But conversations and meetings like this encourage me and lead me to believe we are on the right path.
If you were there or watched it online, what were your thoughts?