New Zealand government CIO (chief information officer) Laurence Millar has cautioned Australian counterparts about rushing to embrace Web 2.0 technologies, citing concerns over content quality and public attacks.
Millar said the New Zealand government was "cautiously enthusiastic" about the second generation of Web technologies, but had identified areas of concern for governance.
Often referred to as 'the social Web', Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs generally enable collaboration and discussion online.
While describing himself as a Web 2.0 "believer", Millar was concerned about the dynamic nature of content production.
"It may be because I'm a boomer, but I'm troubled by the fact that things continue to change. I wonder if this is actually the second coming of postmodernism?" he said.
"I wonder whether Beethoven would've written a symphony in a Web 2.0 world?" he asked.
The executive was addressing participants of a government forum during CeBIT Australia 2007 in Sydney.
Millar said he was concerned that Web 2.0 technologies might result in "dumbing down" content, and that the rapid-fire nature of production could mean a loss in content quality.
His comments came just a day after Australia's special minister of state Gary Nairn talked up the prospect of Web 2.0 technologies for government, such as blogs.
However, these were another area of concern for Millar. He cited the abusive nature of conversations on some blogs.
"How do we ensure we get the appropriate behaviour?
"We've got some very unpleasant behaviour that is taking place in the global village," he said.
Individual New Zealand government employees had recently been the subject of attacks by bloggers, according to Millar.
"What we've got is anonymous blogs with postings about individual government employees making some fairly unpleasant assertions about those people ... we don't know what to do about that.
"So I think as you get a globally connected global village, the ethics and behaviour that we expect to see there are not necessarily going to take place," he added.
A third area of concern was the ownership of such discussions. Millar said government discussions were increasingly moving online, but he was concerned that this transferred ownership of the discussion to media owners, citing News Corp's ownership of the Myspace as an example.