The (Government 2.0) revolution should be televised

The (Government 2.0) revolution should be televised

Summary: Maybe what the people really want to see of their Government is transparency? So why not a "Chief Transparency Officer?"


*Jennifer Leggio is on vacation

Guest editorial by Andrea Baker

The (Government 2.0) revolution should be televisedEach generation in United States Government has created an internal revolution. From the Pony Express and telegrams, to typewriters and carbon paper, to computers and email. Now we are in the middle of yet another technological revolution: Social Media in Government or the more common moniker, Government 2.0.

A week ago, I sat in as a panelist on a Web talk show regarding Government 2.0. There have been many discussions in the main stream media, bloggers and in the hallowed halls of Government buildings on who will be and what is the proposed "Chief Technology Officer's" role. In all the talk about the Presidential Transition, I have felt that maybe Barack Obama and quite possibly the digital world are fixating to much on just one type of CTO. During the Web cast I posed the thought, "maybe what the people really want to see of their Government is transparency? So why not a "Chief Transparency Officer?"

I believe if we are going to use the term Government 2.0, we might as well come to terms what that means for those inside the Federal, State, and Local Governments, as well as what does it portend to the U.S. Citizen. I cannot profess I know all the definitions of either side of the coin, but I can shed some light as to what I think is essentially one of the many parts of a User-Generated Government. I am going to break this down into two parts: Citizen 2.0 and Patriot 2.0.

Citizen 2.0 "Citizen 2.0" or a proletarian revolution is what I believe the above-average social media user/voiced U.S. citizen. While its more likely that an American has a MySpace account versus Twitter and/or FaceBook, both social media sites continue to reach bigger audiences, the average "Citizen 1.0" doesn't necessarily go online to use social media sites or vote for that matter. The Citizen 2.0 crowd are the citizens and constituents that engage the Government by writing their congressional representative, vote and create questions on HubDub or or engage in online debate with others via Twitter or to their pundits on main-stream media programming.

Patriot 2.0 "Patriot 2.0" types are those within the U.S. Government who are those willing to fight for bureaucratic change of the archaic processes and vicissitude. This also covers those willing to become versed in and change their existing work processes based on the efforts of those agents of change. In my experience I have seen most employees either pragmatic or idealistic, and some are a little of both. It is those who are a little of both who I feel are the change agents, the music makers:

We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams;— World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever, it seems. -- Arthur O'Shaughnessy, British Poet

Transparency The need for transparency for the incoming and outgoing President appears to be in digital demand by both the Citizens 2.0 and Patriots 2.0. And I say this with the upmost respect, but nerds and geeks have indeed taken over the world. The digital divide of Gen Xer's and Millennials vs. Boomers in office is clear. Boomers and old generations are more likely to get their news and information about Government via traditional news media on television or from a printed newspaper. While the younger generations are more and more getting their news from social media Web sites and other alternative methods.

Next: Are you a Citizen or a Patriot? -->

Each week I get the White House Weekly Highlights delivered to my email, which includes the President's schedule of the past week. We can watch the President-Elect via YouTube or iTunes (at the time of writing this article Barack Obama's "Video's from the President-Elect" are number one on iTunes) or follow the news of President George W. Bush's White House @TheWhiteHouse on twitter (Will he turn over this account to his successor?). It doesn't stop there. I have seen several Web sites/blogs that have been compiling lists of who's who in the U.S. Government of the United States.

While it may look like Obama is with the times when we see him in public using his Blackberry, can we really expect the President of the United States to stay on top of all his personal and work-related correspondence? Take a moment and think about that for a second. How many email accounts do you have, how many unread messages? If you declare email bankruptcy more than likely no one will die from you having set your inbox to zero. But can the same be said for the President? And after Obama's account was recently hacked, how safe would you feel having sensitive national security issues or private correspondence leaked and posted on bulletin boards across the Internet? When the person takes the oath of office, they are no longer a person, but an Institution. (I learned a lot from the "West Wing" -- and now's the time to dust those DVDs off and re-watch the series).

So is the appearance of the Presidential transparency tied only to his hand-held device? No. There are other ways the White House and the U.S. Government can appear and be transparent without the fear of a security breach. For the first time in the digital age we have the tools and demand to put information from the source of an incoming President. While President-Elect Obama (or his campaign staff) has not tweeted since the morning after his historic victory, the information on the feed from @change_gov is a steady flow.

So as readers, which part of Government 2.0 are you? The Citizen or a Patriot? Or Both? What is the U.S. Government doing right when it comes to transparency and what is it doing wrong?

Andrea R. Baker is the Director of Technology for Navstar, Inc. and a Social Web Evangelist for the United States Intelligence Community. Under this role Andrea has helped their customers utilize Enterprise 2.0 tools effectively. She specializes in the user community advocacy and an application developer liaison, through tools like wikis, blogs, and other social Web tools. You can follow her on Twitter and via her personal blog.

Topics: Government US, Collaboration, Government, Social Enterprise

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  • Be careful!!

    Terms like "Government 2.0" should not be tossed around lightly! There are those who believe we need just that...another American Revolution and a complete restart!
  • RE: The (Government 2.0) revolution should be televised

    Andrea -

    When I hear Patriot 2.0, I get an image of Cassel at quarterback...but that's just me. :-)

    Seriously, great post. Alternate title for it: The (Government 2.0) Revolution Should be Tweetivized! What I mean is that television is even an "old media" at this point. And government, almost more than any other sector, can/should use social media and the web to share information with citizens (both pushing and pulling) as it presents the most cost effective method to use our tax dollars! Beats a 30-second PSA.

    Thanks again for a thought-provoking post,

    Andrew Krzmarzick
    Twitter: krazykriz
    Andrew Krzmarzick
  • RE: The (Government 2.0) revolution should be televised

    We are in a constant revolution, Remember the core meaning of the word revolution refers to the cycle. All things cycle! There are two universal forces. Love and Fear. We cycle through these forces as spiritual and material beings. Keep this in mind. Act out of a Place of LOVE and Release Fear. With this in mind, think of the '08 Election campaign. What might have occurred had McCain - Palin not been playing to our fears but rather as Obama did, Act from a place of Love?
    Take this further. What about our economic difficulties. Could the universal forces help us?
  • RE: The (Government 2.0) revolution should be televised

    @techboy_z I don't think we are throwing it around lightly. As you might read on my personal blog, I am not completely fond of the term, but those of us in Government trying to push the tech and transparency edge have referred to the term. With regards to the restart, we get that chance every four years and are about to see that take place in 55 days. The 2.0 thing is very much married to the tech world when it comes to everything 2.0 it seems.

    @Andrew agree with you I hope to engage in future talks about what the Government can do better in achieving the transparency needed most likely via social media tools. I am hoping this piece is a start to that discussion.
  • RE: The (Government 2.0) revolution should be televised

    I would have to say I am def a citizen. But, as far as "What is the U.S. Government doing right when it comes to transparency..." I think the only thing the Gov is doing right is recognizing that transparency for the most part already exists. Sure, the Govt has it's secrets (you and I know that all too well) but the ACTIONS of the governing INDIVIDUALS will always out. Gone are the closed door meetings of the Reagan era, and the late night shredding parties of Ollie North. There is always someone on the inside that will whisper (if not shout) our governors secrets even if only anonymously. But isn't THAT the beauty of the digital world in which we wrap ourselves?
  • Forget Technology and Transparency for 1

    If the message is televised, who will watch?

    I am concerned there is too much focus on WHAT the Obama Administration wants to do with this prospective hire and too little attention WHY it's not about one person.

    Just like the presidency is about the institution and not the elected leader, the CTO in the name of technology or transparency is about more than the appointee.

    Let's retreat to the president-elect's technology roadmap, drafted during his campaign and now shown on, and highlight the following:

    "Appoint the nation's first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure the safety of our networks and lead an interagency effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best practices."

    I'll be the first person to stand in front of the president as Citizen 2.0 and Patriot 2.0 (though a bit more as the latter) clapping for every R&D innovation and we-the-people messaging, but let's retreat from ideology and face the realism:

    There is a serious digital gap in the United States. Many rural areas lack broadband internet access, and computer illiteracy goes with it. Cellular coverage is limited on mountains and in valleys. It's noble to bring the internet (and dare I say, social media) to the White House beyond a broadcast-only Twitter feed and limited networking outposts, but what about the American people who would be unable to listen to, let alone respond to, the message? If someone sends an email to the president, how long until there's a non-generic response?

    Perhaps what the Obama Administration needs is three people: a Chief Technology Officer, a Chief Transparency Officer, and a Chief Marketing Officer. Working together, these three positions can help address my questions and be responsive to the American people -- and the global audience.
  • RE: The (Government 2.0) revolution should be televised

    Great suggestions Andrea,

    I like the idea of citizen participation. But, I wonder how much you realize that most people do not have a MySpace, Facebook, Twitter account or very much knowledge at all about these tools.

    We saw this recently at a tech conference where virtually the whole audience was Twittering away. It was clear that most of the speeches, panels and discussions simply assumed that the rest of the working world was just like them. In fact, at a "normal" conference only a tiny fraction of people have Facebook accounts, have heard of LinkedIn - and virtually no one Twitters.

    The thing is - no one at the tech conference was talking about how the average working person might be better introduced to some of these new, cool technology tools that can make them businesspersons, better citizens, better parents. Figure it out - most people are not like technology officers, SEO mavens and social media types.

    This month, Wired magazine declared blogs to be dead - before most average people even really knew what they were, much less starting writing one. In a few more years Twitter will RIP and we'll be on to the next flavor of the month. The need is not so much to get people involved, it's for the technical types to get their heads out of the clouds and begin actually addressing the challenge of bringing the average working stiff along with them. Look at Twitter right now - it's mostly the tech cognoscenti addressing each other. It's naval staring - and that's neither citizen nor patriot.

    Michael Benidt
  • Government 2.0 = Socialism

    Government 1.0 = Capitalism
    Government 2.0 = Socialism, Obama proclaims himself king, and burns The Constitution.
    • Too Late...

      Bush already burned it......
  • RE: The (Government 2.0) revolution should be televised


    Excellent post.
    - I am both citizen 2.0 and patriot 2.0. As for the digital divide, in some locations it is a matter of access, but in many, it is a matter of choice when it comes to embracing modern communications. Many had a hard time moving from the typewriter to the computer, and some struggled with the move from home phones to cell phones. Time has proven the usefulness of the technologies, and often the delay is simply a matter of understanding the benefits of the new technologies over the old. What is missing is a message that explains why government is pursuing these modern communications methods and why an average citizen should embark on a lifelong journey of learning about and understanding the digital information channels of today versus those of the past. In order to speed up the move of the populous to these new media, education and benefit to the user would have to be a part of the strategy.

    Keep up the good work, and continue to profess what you believe in.
  • Who Cares?

    just rewrite the constitution - the US government needs to be
    recreated NOW
  • RE: The (Government 2.0) revolution should be televised

    Interesting the comments that came from when I posted
    this on a government employee social network.
  • Metagovernment

    Some projects go further and re-think what both citizenship
    and government mean. Have a look at the Metagovernment
    project, for example:
    Mr. DD