I had flown out to San Francisco to give a presentation on Government 2.0 at the same conference that Chris was presenting at, and he was one of the reasons that I was really excited about attending. I’ve been to conferences where he’s spoken before and really like his informal, tell-it-how-it-is style.
So, when Chris began his presentation, I knew that I wanted to get his take on this whole Government 2.0 meme. Here in the DC area, we’ve got a lot of “goverati,” carpetbaggers, yellow journalists as well as plenty of behind-the-scenes people who are actually making Government 2.0 happen. It’s sometimes hard to get out of the echo chamber. The reason I like conferences like the NewComm Forum is precisely because I’m usually one of the few Government 2.0 folks there. I get an opportunity to meet and interact with some of the top minds in the broader social media world and get their perspectives on what’s working and what’s not in Government 2.0.
Video Set-up: I asked Chris for his thoughts on this whole concept of Government 2.0 and what he’d like to see it become. His first response (that I wasn’t able to get on tape) was “why isn’t the IRS on Twitter helping me do my taxes? I want to be able to go to @IRS and ask them questions about how to fill out their forms.” He then finished his answer with the following:
What I find refreshing about Chris’ thoughts on Government 2.0 is that he concentrates not on the tools themselves, but on being helpful, on customer service. He advocates for asynchronous communications and for engaging with the community when and where they are, rather than trying to get more comments or web traffic.
He realizes that Government 2.0 isn’t about the tools. It isn’t about the Whitehouse getting on Twitter, it isn’t about the GSA making friends with YouTube, and it isn’t about barcamps. These things are fantastic, all they are a means to the end. What really matters is that people can now ask a question of the EPA at 11:00 at night and get a response back within an hour. Or that people can now talk directly to their Congressman. Or that local bloggers in other nations can now provide their readership with accurate information because they’re embedded directly with the Department of State’s traveling press corps.
So yeah, I agree with Chris that the government should always keep the end goal of being helpful to the public in mind. If that means getting every Government agency department and agency tweeting, that’s ok by me, as long as they’re doing it to be helpful and not to check a box, or to market themselves, or to help someone leave behind some sort of legacy.
Use social media but remember why you’re using it.