Gov 2.0 – We Need to Get Past the Honeymoon Stage of Our Relationship

I was in Las Vegas this week to participate in BlogWorld 2009 with some of the industry’s biggest big-wigs in social media. I really like going to conferences like this and next week’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco because they help me escape the Gov 2.0 echo chamber that I sometimes get trapped in back in DC.  The people I meet, the presentations I hear, and the conversations that I have while at these conferences help me get a more realistic view of what’s going on with the Gov 2.0 movement.  This week’s conference was no different.  Between this week and Brian Drake’s excellent blog post, I realized that we (the “Goverati”) are still very much in the honeymoon stage of Gov 2.0.

Allow me to explain. I liken it to when you first start dating a woman and everything is going well – you talk for hours, you spend every waking moment with each other, and you talk to your friends about how great everything is going.  This goes on for a few weeks or months – it’s still new, it’s still fun, and perhaps most importantly, it’s not anything like that last awful relationship you had.  However, this is also the time when you’re ignoring the fact that she made you meatloaf the other night for dinner and you hate meatloaf but all you could say was, “I loved it honey.”  This is also the time when your buddies might start telling you that this girl is crazy-annoying, but you laugh it off and tell them that she’s the best thing that’s happened to you.  This is the time when you have a distorted view on reality because everything is so new and fun and different.  This is the stage that we find ourselves with Gov 2.0.

Gov 2.0 is still so new that we talk about it ad nauseam with anyone who will listen, it’s the greatest thing to happen to the government ever, and it’s most definitely not at all like that last command and control relationship where we didn’t have a voice and were bullied around all the time.  Not anymore, we say!  We have Government 2.0 now and everything is perfect!!  However, we’re making the same mistakes that everyone in the honeymoon stage makes – we’re writing off mistakes (and outright failures) as minor quirks, we’re ignoring logic in favor in the new girl/technology, and possibly most damaging, we’re ignoring the people who are giving us constructive criticism because they just don’t know her (Gov 2.0) like I do.

Coming out here and participating in BlogWorld showed me the next stage of our Gov 2.0 relationship.  It showed me people asking the tough questions, demanding more out of the community, and tackling some very polarizing legal issues.  People were almost unanimously friendly, but there were definitely some disagreements and debates to be had, not to mention some good-natured ribbing.  It showed me a relationship where the participants have finally started to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can be honest about them.  It showed me what Gov 2.0 can and will be if we just start admitting it to ourselves.  Yeah, Gov 2.0 is absolutely great and it’s most definitely changing government for the better.  That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect though.  There are things we can do better.  There are things we can do more of.  And there are things that we need to address before we can take that next step in our relationship.

  1. Realize that not all is perfect in the land of Gov 2.0 While we’ve had a lot of success, let’s not sweep our weaknesses under the rug.  Let’s identify what’s going wrong and talk about it.  We have showcases to talk about all of the successes – why don’t we have an event to talk about the challenges we’re facing and how to overcome them?  Oh wait – we will…
  2. Identify the skeptics and open up a dialogue with them – let’s stop talking about how great we all are amongst ourselves.  I want a conference where that CIO who continues to block access to social media talks about why they’re blocking it.  I want to hear from that Admiral explaining why he’s banned his sailors from using social media.  I want to go to an event where I can talk with the guy who decided to shut down the UGov email system and learn more about the pressures he’s facing.  I want an event, well, an event like this
  3. Hear the war stories of the people who have gone before us – Listen, I KNOW that there have been people who have been fired, reprimanded, demoted, moved to another project, and just flat-out yelled at for some of their Gov 2.0 efforts.  What happened and why?  What are the battles that people are facing?  What are the battles that have been won and lost?  I know that I’ve dealt with people yelling at me, laughing at me, and/or dismissing me for my Gov 2.0 efforts over the last three years – I’m sure there are others out there who would be able to learn from these experiences, just as I have.  Let’s talk about them

Don’t get me wrong – I love Gov 2.0 and I think we’re going to have a long and successful relationship.  I just think we’re to the point where I can tell her that I hate meatloaf without thinking she’s going to get angry with me.  If you agree, and want to help, leave a comment here, tweet this out, and tell your friends – we need the help of the community to identify those people who will tell us the hard truths that our friends won’t because they don’t want to hurt our feelings.

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About sradick

I'm Vice President, Director of Public Relations at Brunner in Pittsburgh. Find out more about me here (http://steveradick.com/about/).

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  • Nicely done. I love the analogy. I especially emote with point 3. For those of us who have taken a hit or two professionally and maybe got knocked down, we need to band together to find out how to stand back up.

  • Nicely done. I love the analogy. I especially emote with point 3. For those of us who have taken a hit or two professionally and maybe got knocked down, we need to band together to find out how to stand back up.

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  • This is essentially an extension of what I called the Gov 2.0 “midlife crisis” back in March (and took a lot of heat for). Well, we’re still in this midlife crisis / honeymoon phase – http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/government_20_the_midlife_crisis.php

    I had planned to go to Blogworld, and those events have many people that have all kinds of advice that can help people inside the Beltway. As co-chair of the Gov 2.0 Expo in May, I plan to bring many of them in as speakers and hopefully as attendees, too.

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  • This is essentially an extension of what I called the Gov 2.0 “midlife crisis” back in March (and took a lot of heat for). Well, we’re still in this midlife crisis / honeymoon phase – http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/government_20_the_midlife_crisis.php

    I had planned to go to Blogworld, and those events have many people that have all kinds of advice that can help people inside the Beltway. As co-chair of the Gov 2.0 Expo in May, I plan to bring many of them in as speakers and hopefully as attendees, too.

  • You talk as if it is only admirals in the way of the Goverati.

    But it’s ordinary American people, too.

    You are elitist, insular, arrogant, and utopianist — dangerously so.

    You’re constantly trying to impose new media/opensource extremism into government and “put one over” using executive fiat, and not engaging in Congress. But sooner or later Congress should indeed become involved for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that in your hands, the First Amendment takes a beating, and if a benefit of regulation is that geeks get to stop imposing corporate-like TOS restrictions on government websites, I’m all for it.

    So many of these sites are hoaxes, not really interactive, with templates like they were from websites in the 1990s that go nowhere. Sites that are supposed to show data flow in fact are partial and ideological — so often it’s extreme leftists merely baking their ideologies into these tools and celebrating themselves and their consulting.

    Let’s start with the entire over-celebration of opensouce for opensource’s sake — merely so that the government can spend a bundle buying the consultant that comes with the “free” software.

    Honestly, there has not been such a hoax and a hype since the Medicine Show days.

    Open government=closed society of geeks
    http://bit.ly/YKDUL

  • You talk as if it is only admirals in the way of the Goverati.

    But it’s ordinary American people, too.

    You are elitist, insular, arrogant, and utopianist — dangerously so.

    You’re constantly trying to impose new media/opensource extremism into government and “put one over” using executive fiat, and not engaging in Congress. But sooner or later Congress should indeed become involved for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that in your hands, the First Amendment takes a beating, and if a benefit of regulation is that geeks get to stop imposing corporate-like TOS restrictions on government websites, I’m all for it.

    So many of these sites are hoaxes, not really interactive, with templates like they were from websites in the 1990s that go nowhere. Sites that are supposed to show data flow in fact are partial and ideological — so often it’s extreme leftists merely baking their ideologies into these tools and celebrating themselves and their consulting.

    Let’s start with the entire over-celebration of opensouce for opensource’s sake — merely so that the government can spend a bundle buying the consultant that comes with the “free” software.

    Honestly, there has not been such a hoax and a hype since the Medicine Show days.

    Open government=closed society of geeks
    http://bit.ly/YKDUL

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  • Prokofy – I’m not sure how this post came across as being elitist or arrogant. Your viewpoints on Gov 2.0 are clearly different than mine and that’s a good thing. I welcome your perspective, and hope that you will continue to participate in this discussion. I can assure you that the last thing that I want is a beating of the First Amendment. If anything, I want to use social media to empower the people to take advantage of their First Amendment rights. As a communications professional, I’m very much a First Amendment supporter and wish that we, as a public, would take greater advantage of it.

    I agree with you that many of the sites being trumpted as “gov 2.0” really aren’t. So let’s help them get there. Let’s help identify what’s wrong with them and tell them. Then, let’s help them fix it. You’re also right on about open source software – it’s not always the answer. Guess what – neither is commercial off the shelf software. Look at your goals and pick the software that will best help you accomplish those goals.

  • Prokofy – I’m not sure how this post came across as being elitist or arrogant. Your viewpoints on Gov 2.0 are clearly different than mine and that’s a good thing. I welcome your perspective, and hope that you will continue to participate in this discussion. I can assure you that the last thing that I want is a beating of the First Amendment. If anything, I want to use social media to empower the people to take advantage of their First Amendment rights. As a communications professional, I’m very much a First Amendment supporter and wish that we, as a public, would take greater advantage of it.

    I agree with you that many of the sites being trumpted as “gov 2.0” really aren’t. So let’s help them get there. Let’s help identify what’s wrong with them and tell them. Then, let’s help them fix it. You’re also right on about open source software – it’s not always the answer. Guess what – neither is commercial off the shelf software. Look at your goals and pick the software that will best help you accomplish those goals.

  • Ignorance + Jargon + Bloviation = Catastrophe

  • Ignorance + Jargon + Bloviation = Catastrophe

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  • You love Gov 2.0. What specifically do you love about it? You didn’t specify that…

  • You love Gov 2.0. What specifically do you love about it? You didn’t specify that…

  • I’m not sure what you mean? You’ve read enough of my blog posts to know what I love about Gov 2.0 – this technology enables greater access to government people/processes; I can directly engage with people instead of going through esoteric org charts to get to the person I want to talk with; government agencies are now actually talking with people instead of talking at them; the public can get real answers instead of just public affairs spin. There are many things like this – is this what you were wondering or were you looking for something more specific?

  • I’m not sure what you mean? You’ve read enough of my blog posts to know what I love about Gov 2.0 – this technology enables greater access to government people/processes; I can directly engage with people instead of going through esoteric org charts to get to the person I want to talk with; government agencies are now actually talking with people instead of talking at them; the public can get real answers instead of just public affairs spin. There are many things like this – is this what you were wondering or were you looking for something more specific?

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  • Ah, Steve, I definitely love the metaphor.

    I agree with Prokofy Neva about involving Congress more. I always forget that Congressional staffs are part of Government, and could, perhaps, become part of the Goverati. How silly is that? How come I so rarely see more staffers at industry events? I think because they’re more “political” and the executive organization’s worker bees are more “career.” I know there is a mix of both political and career workers for a reason, though.

    Ari, I luuuurv Gov2.0 because he has a fantastic sense of humor, he has totally dreamy eyes, and of course, he makes meeeee feel attractive. Oo lala! 😉

  • Ah, Steve, I definitely love the metaphor.

    I agree with Prokofy Neva about involving Congress more. I always forget that Congressional staffs are part of Government, and could, perhaps, become part of the Goverati. How silly is that? How come I so rarely see more staffers at industry events? I think because they’re more “political” and the executive organization’s worker bees are more “career.” I know there is a mix of both political and career workers for a reason, though.

    Ari, I luuuurv Gov2.0 because he has a fantastic sense of humor, he has totally dreamy eyes, and of course, he makes meeeee feel attractive. Oo lala! 😉

  • At Steve Ballmer’s keynote speech at SharePoint 2009 conference in Las Vegas, he implies that the takeup of social media will never happen in government and big business, due to corporate fears of their data being all over Facebook, etc. As you can see in the attached video, he suggests SharePoint is the answer.

    http://blog.webworldtechnologies.com/?p=16

    The points to discuss here are pretty obvious. I.e., will Facebook & Twitter actually be broad-scale adopted by Govt?