Here on Gov 2.0 Heroes Day, I’m supposed to write a post that tells you who my Gov 2.0 Heroes are, why they inspire me, and what others should know about their work. Now, instead of highlighting the Gov 2.0 folks everyone already knows, I’d like to take this opportunity to instead talk about the heroes who have inspired me to get involved with the Gov 2.0 community, the people who have helped me in my career, the people who made me believe that openness, transparency, and collaboration in government could be a reality.
Without the following people, I can say that I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog post, working in my current position, or even living where I am today. So, thank you to my Gov 2.0 Heroes:
Don Burke/Sean Dennehy
December 2006 – that’s when I read “Open-Source Spying” by Clive Thompson. That’s what started it all for me. When I logged into Intelink, and I saw that the U.S. Intelligence Community was using blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, and other social media tools to collect and analyze national intelligence, that was it – game, set, match. I was hooked. My world was flipped upside down – not only could social media be used in the government, it could be used effectively AND securely for mission-critical purposes? I was fascinated, intrigued, excited, and most of all, eager to learn more. That’s when I first met Don and Sean – two of the founders of the Gov 2.0 exemplar, Intellipedia. They were Gov 2.0 before there was a Gov 2.0. They helped lay the foundation for where we are today. Intellipedia didn’t happen because it was “cool,” or because of some directive, or because everyone else was doing it. It happened because some passionate people truly believed that openness, transparency, sharing, and collaboration would truly help improve them do their jobs better. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve quoted them, used them as a case study, or cited them as a best practice, but I can tell you that I haven’t thanked them enough for all they’ve done.
The first time I saw Gary speak in person was at BlogWorld in October 2008. His keynote that day is something that I’ll always remember – not because he said anything totally revolutionary, but because of his obvious passion and self-confidence. Before I went to this conference, I was feeling a little battered and bruised because I wasn’t making the progress that I had hoped with getting Booz Allen more involved with social media. I was frustrated, I was discouraged, and I was tired. But when I heard Gary speak, I got a new energy – I realized that to really make a difference, to really change the way things were done, I had to commit 100% to what I was doing. Effecting change wasn’t going to happen overnight and it wasn’t going to happen from 9-5. I realized that I had to hustle and I had to absolutely kill it every hour of every day. I realized that the technology and the work didn’t mean anything unless I had a community, unless I connected to PEOPLE. Gary showed me that understanding technology is great, but loving people is awesome.
I can’t forget our current President – under his watch, “Gov 2.0” became something. More than just some interesting success stories, Gov 2.0 became an initiative, an industry, an era. From his revolutionary campaign to his first memo while in office to the Open Government Directive, President Obama has moved Government 2.0 out from the domain of the rogue change agents to the mainstream. It’s due in large part to this administration’s commitment to openness and transparency, that we even have Gov 2.0 heroes today. Without the top cover that the White House has provided, instead of Gov 2.0 Heroes Day, we may very well be celebrating Gov 2.0 Martyrs Day.
Those are my Gov 2.0 Heroes – who are yours?