What Does Government 2.0 Mean To You?

As many of you know, I’ve built a new conference, Gov 2.0 Summit, around the idea of the government as platform: how can government design programs to be generative, to use Zittrain’s phrase? How do we get beyond the idea that participation means “public input” (shaking the vending machine to get more or better services out of it), and over to the idea that it means government building frameworks that enable people to build new services of their own?

I’ve been talking a lot about this topic recently, so there are plenty of places to see and hear what I think. (Here are links to my Forbes column on Gov 2.0, an interview with Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb, my interview with Mark Amtower on Federal News Radio, and my Radar talk at this year’s OSCON. (Gov 2.0 remarks start about 9:45 in, with my idea of what Gov 2.0 is really about starting at around 16 minutes.)) And in a few weeks, you can hear the latest thinking from some key people in the world of policy and technology at Gov 2.0 Summit.

But I’d like to reach beyond the voices of the people on stage at that event, and include your voices. So I’m throwing out an invitation in the form of a question: what does Gov 2.0 mean to you? The question is intentionally open to interpretation in a variety of ways, so go to town!

I’d like to hear from you through short video clips; just tag them with #whatisgov2 and post them to your favorite video service by September 2. Details about the video invitation are here. I’ll take some of the best of these videos to Gov 2.0 Summit in two weeks, and make them part of the conversation there.

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  • Frank Ch. Eigler

    After Web 2.0, Where 2.0, and Gov 2.0, consider a “2.0 2.0” conference to disarm the cliche with recursive self-satire.

  • Hey Tim,

    Government 2.0 means a couple things from where I sit.

    One, is some form of centralized library of the commons whereby an “official,” crowdsourced and curated knowledge base exists of all of the data and position pieces on every topic where governance plays a part.

    Think: Education, Health Care, Gun Control, Military, etc. How powerful would it be to have a ready source whereby the President could say, “Go to the Gov 2.0 site, and read our official position on Health Care, alongside the official position of the Republican Party, the official position of Big Pharma and so on.”

    To be effective, such a system would need to have clear communal policies, like no personal attacks, clearly delineating opinions versus facts, citing and linking to referenced sources and a reasonably simple structure so those interested in just stats can get that, those interested in just white papers by medical establishment can get that, and those interested in personal blog/life stories can get that.

    Similarly, Gov 2.0 implies a dashboard of key metrics, transparency on their measures and mechanisms to amplify (tag, rate, comment) and disseminate content/positions of interest.

    Optimally, one system (with open APIs) would enable the Administration, Congress, Lobbyists/SIGs and Consumers to rally their base, and provide common communication paths for meetups, online engagement, capture of the outcome and follow up.



  • Government 2.0 is about defining the next generation of government. It’s a change of how government solves problems and delivers services.

    A change in:
    -culture – move from top-down one-way to collaborative and two-way
    -participants – move from gov and gov contractors to include non-profits, citizens, social entrepreneurs, startups, and more.
    -human capital – move from legacy generation of government baby boomers to digital natives and Gen C
    -speed – move from big, large, long-term projects to a culture of speed, pilot, and beta
    -collaboration – move from agency silos to working across Fed/State/Local lines and departments

    Many pieces to the puzzle…

    Steve Ressler
    Founder, GovLoop.com

  • My slogan for this:

    “Gov 2.0: FOI, the Act is unnecessary”

  • Mark and Steve, thanks for the comments here! Any chance we can get you to put a summary of your comments to video? We’re hoping for 30 seconds or less, tagged with #whatisgov2 and uploaded to your favorite viral video site. We’ll take it from there.

    (Steve, I think that Luke at GovFresh is planning to connect with you to possibly capture your response on vid).

    Jaimey Walking Bear
    O’Reilly Conferences Marketing Mgr.

  • For me a large part of Gov 2.0 is citizen participation. Up until this point, we’ve done a great job of making it a lot easier for citizens to send in their feedback and become part of the process but there is more to it then that.

    The the loop needs to be closed. Gov 2.0 means being able to take the feedback, show that it’s been listened to, and some how demonstrate that it’s either helped to inform opinion or lead to an action.

    All too often, with citizen participation in government, I feel like we’re sending our feedback and thoughts into this endless black hole where it’s never to be seen again. When we do get a response it’s formulaic and looks like it’s been written by a machine.

    If we want real Gov 2.0, we need a mechanism for sustaining the enthusiasm for the participants that want to be active and share their opinions… helping them feel like they’re part of a community that’s trying to make the system better.

  • @Jaimey, will do. Who I should ping when I get around to this?


  • Mike Pearson

    Hi Tim, Tara Hunt gave a great summary of what Gov 2.0 means, at the GOVIS 2007 conference. You can watch her video here: http://tinyurl.com/3xvm7t . Her slides are at http://www.slideshare.net/missrogue/government-20-architecting-for-collaboration-47993

  • Mike Pearson

    On a related note, NZ govt released an open access framework for govt information today, http://mikepearsonnz.amplify.com/2009/08/27/nz-govt-releases-open-access-framework-for-govt-information/

  • From my perspective, Government 2.0 is the new highway system. Government built the roadways to make it possible for us to reach any destination we choose. Government 2.0 will build virtual highways that give citizens the opportunity to reach life destinations of their choice. That’s the great power of structure when it’s done right.

  • I think Government 2.0 simply means transparency: a government at local or state level should provide the raw data about what they do. Best if they do that following the eight Priciples of Open Government Data. This would be a revolutionary achievement. Government 2.0 must not be confused with an idea of governemnt that establish a direct link with the society. Once the raw government data are available and trusted partecipation by all the interested parties will start autonomously.

  • The citizen engagement potential and promise of Government 2.0 means to me whatever the opposite is of the “community/town hall” meeting. We have been seeing this silliness on TV for weeks. Both sides of the health care debate hooting and honking away. As the TV cameras roll. I actually made the mistake of attending something similar a few months back locally that was about another issue: What a mistake. We are getting played, folks. And we like it.

    The “shaking the vending machine” example from Tim is just brilliant. That’s what these meetings are about. They are staged acts of theater, and the problem is so many of the rest of us play along. Somebody needs to change the term Gov 2.0 to Citizenship 2.0. Too many of US — the citizens of this country — have adopted the cheap, electoral politics-influence partisan language and behavior of THEM — the elected.

    What does Gov 2.0 mean to me? Anything that brings the us and them to a more serious place. Way beyond the current definition of “citizen engagement.” Wayyy beyond.

  • FYI, as requested here is uploaded video link:

    Government 2.0 & The Library of the Commons

    It is tagged, as requested, as well.



  • JIm Getzen

    Putting implementation details aside, for me to accept any form of Government 2.0, it must reduce the unbelievable bloat and cost of 1.0 by least 50%. The best government is one that is as small as possible and impinges on the citizens’ freedoms and wallets as little as possible.

  • Richard Matthews

    This might be a perfect place to engage Craig Fugate – the new head of FEMA. He has gone on record as saying natural disasters cannot be handled by the government – they must be handled by citizens working together.

    He just might have an outline/model we can use for all sorts of intractable problems that are simply too big (or too important) for government to handle.


  • Gov-Civ2.0:
    Gov strives for architectures of participation
    Civ joins with expertise, aspirations
    Shall architectures regulate stakeholder interests
    For the greater public good?

  • To me, Gov 2.0 means using social networking technology not merely because it is new, fun, or for its own sake but, rather, to accomplish strategic goals and objectives more efficiently and effectively.

    Hopefully, AIIM’s emerging Strategy Markup Language (StratML) standard will be widely adopted and used to mature social networking services toward that end.

  • Ashley Dunfield

    People are speaking about social networking but social networking in its current form doesn’t make sense for community communication. Social networking qualifies communication based on human relationships. Community communication requires geographic relationships to have any power.

    I have spent the past two years in research to create a geo-relational communication system that is based on the concept of social networking but uses a community grid as the foundation. It dramatically changes the value and purpose of communication. I’m still about a year away from launching as I have very limited budgets but I have interest from large municipalities to national governments.

    I would love to speak to Tim about my project as I am a young passionate person with a truly unique approach to improving community communication. Anyone one else in the industry is also welcome to contact me @ ashley@lifesocket.com

    Ashley Dunfield

  • Douglas

    Tim, I’m going to go a little off-topic here. I saw you have published this article on Tech Crunch. I would like to know if you know and what you think about two articles published there that seriously offends people from Brazil. Those two distateful articles were written by Sarah Lacy (or Lazy?) and Paul Carr. That’s a shame how they were able to get the fury of all the internet connected brazilians. I know serious people here, some influent business people, really angry with Sarah and going to take this issue to authorities. I just think: how dows Tech Crunch allow this kind of crap? And … I would like to give a suggestion, don’t write to them!

  • Keith Moore

    To me, Government 2.0 means that no idea is a bad idea until it has gone through the full participation test by stakeholders with relevant input to the subject.

    Gov 2.0 means to me that government has the opportunity to rebrand the way government agencies encourage small businesses to do business with government

    Gov 2.0 will enable public sector agencies to stand behind the importance of the slogan so frequently used by government leaders that “small business growth is the engine behind revitalizing our economy”.

    Gov 2.0 to me means that now government can compartmentalize the information it receives into matching sectors so that the public input coming into the agencies can be categorized between joe citizen, and John and Jane the business person, and suzy and Joe the health care expert and advocate. Every agency will have a different need to examine and consider how this information helps the agency meet its mission, goals, and objectives.

    I believe web 2.0 will create new jobs through the emergence of new companies who win new contracts with the government just like Macintosh and Microsoft did in the late seventies and eighties. True examples of a sustainable business model and government interface with the private sector.

    http://www.opengovtv.com. is what I believe web 2.0 means to me.

  • Arvind Nigam

    My response to you on GovLoop: http://bit.ly/cyEPf2

    Warm Regards,