08/25/2010 11:07 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Social Media and Gov 2.0 are Contact Sports

Social media is a contact sport. No doubt about it. People get bashed all the time. One only needs to look at the public timelines of Twitter or Facebook to see that. Having said that, specifically Gov 2.0 is a contact sport too. Write one off sounding blog or comment, and see how unforgiving the social media arena can be.

Some people relish this and embrace it like a contact sport. Other people see the sharp edged elbows and the well placed virtual knee kicks as something to be afraid of -- to not engage. Ask anyone who has spent more than a month on a major social network. There is no doubt, the social media we all use allows us to be more snarky, take potshots and generally be more rough than we would in real life.

Apply this to customer service and the Government. Should the people behind the social media accounts owned and maintained by Governments globally be held to a higher level of customer service than the rest of us? If social media is a contact sport -- then Governments around the world need to learn how to leverage SEO and social media and do so without it pissing us off. Engage without looking like Big Brother. There is a zen like balance that needs to be achieved between Governments engaging, directly "playing the contact sport" and those same actions being viewed as over the top invasions of privacy.

Social media as a contact sport is played out 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in every country with an Internet presence. Some have taken it to new levels, and it will only be a matter of time before reality shows about social media as contact sport start popping up. The same societal forces that will ram this type of programming down our collective throats is the same kind that sees the contact sport online as a bloodthirsty event just waiting to happen. In an earlier post, I questioned whether Government(s) need a "G" Chip, sort of like the "V" chip but for Government websites. Many argued that the .gov domain name is enough.

But with the explosion of plugins, widgets, cloud computing and other applications, that notion is quaint. In the age of Google logos emblazoned on Federal Government websites, and Facebook like buttons on other Government properties online, the lines are blurry already. When the sharp elbows of the "social media as a contact sport" realities hit hard, those lines get even fuzzier.

We all talk. You talk all day long. Think about it. Social media is an extension of our conversations. Now you can talk to more than one person at the same time. You can throw jargon around -- be technical, argumentative, creative, scary, wrong, right -- but we tend to lose that simple concept when we start diving deep into our own respective industries. In the Government 2.0 space, the tendency to get both technically heavy in terms of language and the coinciding tendency towards secrecy have collided to create sometimes an air of walled thinking. But as many have argued - this just closes down the best ideas, and keeps innovation from reaching some of it's higher levels. Several have been people engaged in Twitter dialogs and conference rumblings about getting rid of version nomenclature. I have, while advocating the semantic web (Gov 3.0) in fact been deep in this. Simultaneously I have been loosely advocating for fewer hashtags on Twitter. if only to free up space for discussion. Remember KISS -- Keep it simple stupid?

Having written, spoken and even created a conference around the concept of keeping it simple through language, I look at the progression the Gov 2.0 movement is bringing by way of social media and the 24 hour real time web. On one hand it is supremely easy to get to a laser focus between experts. On the other it is the ultimate opportunity to reach mass numbers of people, by talking. Master the simple language version and it won't matter what number it is.