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Social Media is Driven by the Person, Not the Position

January 18, 2009

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Last Wednesday, I moderated a panel discussion on Government 2.0 for the Social Media Club, DC Chapter, where I had the opportunity to speak with, and more importantly, learn from, some of the people most responsible for that phrase – Government 2.0. I’m not even speaking of just the panelists – it seemed like virtually every attendee could have been one of the “experts” on the panel (and probably have been at some point).

Social Media Club DC Government 2.0 Panel

Social Media Club DC Government 2.0 Panel

Panelists included:

As I began the discussion, focusing first on the definition of Government 2.0, and then diving into some of the unique challenges the government faces, I noticed something about the three panelists and the 100 or so people in the audience.  This was a gathering of people interested in Government 2.0 and how this concept is fundamentally changing the way our government operates and the audience wasn’t filled with Chief Technology Officers, Chief Information Officers, Directors, or Secretaries – it was filled with scientists, contractors, members of the media, webmasters,and start-ups.

That’s when it really hit home for me, that the present and future of social media within the government doesn’t lie with whom President Obama’s CTO will be, or what memos and directives the Obama administration will issue.

Social media is driven by the person, not the position.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a GS-7 working on a government website, a concerned citizen, or a Chief Technology Officer – social media isn’t about the title, it’s about the person.  It’s about the person who has seen the potential of social media to make a change for the better and who has done something about it.  It’s about the guy who convinces his administrator to do a press conference on Twitter.  It’s about the group of people who self-organize a Government 2.0 Barcamp.  It’s about the IT specialist who starts an entire social network dedicated to Government 2.0 in his spare time.

Speculating about Obama’s CTO or the impact this Administration will have on Government 2.0 is fun, but if you really want an idea of the future of social media and government, stop looking at the titles that follow the name, and focus instead on the person behind the name.  Some of the most exciting things happening in Government 2.0 have their roots not in corner offices, but from cubicles, personal laptops, happy hours, and networking events.

*Photo courtesy of Mark Drapeau

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