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Insights from Ogilvy 360 DI Gov 2.0 Exchange Panelists

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What is Gov 2.0? What are some of the trends and opportunities in this space? What are some of the exciting break throughs? How can an organization benefit from it? Why should I care?

On Monday September 27th, Ogilvy 360 DI will be bringing together some of the preeminent thought leaders in this space to discuss these very questions. The event which will focus on how social media tools are shaping government, the 2010 elections and issue campaigns is standing room only. Nearly two hundred people have registered on Eventbrite. Seating will be on a first come first serve basis.

This week I had the honor of interviewing a couple of the panelists that will be featured during next week's Ogilvy 360 DI Gov 2.0 Exchange. Their responses were candid and compelling; and provided a sneak peek at the conversation and themes we will tackle on Monday.

Ogilvy 360 DI: What do you see as the vision of Gov 2.0 and why is it relevant?

A: MICAH SIFRY, Co-founder and Editor, Personal Democracy Forum

sifry.jpg

At Personal Democracy Forum, we prefer the term "We-government," the co-creating of new forms of collaboration and service that use technology, public data and the social web to address vital issues and solve public problems, that enables us to do more with less. It's neither Right nor Left, not small government or big government, but effective do-it-ourselves-government.

This is relevant for obvious reasons. In many ways the old ideologies have run out of steam. Laissez-faire capitalism has been badly discredited by the financial meltdown (and Enron and accounting scandals before that); big government liberalism, where wise technocrats supposedly engineer good public policy on behalf of the public, has also run out steam, captured by special interest groups that block innovation.

Meanwhile we are living in a paradoxical moment of political gridlock and technological transformation. Every day that ordinary citizens watch their elected leaders struggle and mostly fail to get anything done in the face of organized blocking minorities, makes the public feel more powerless. But at the same time, every day a new tech innovation puts more power literally in our own hands. In such a moment, should we be surprised that the single biggest Twitter burst seen around any national event was not for President Obama's State of the Union speech this past winter, but for the unveiling of the iPad, a few days later?

People are looking for new answers, and a lot of innovation is starting to emerge from the edges, where civic hackers are inventing new ways of combining public data with community engagement. That is the promise of We-government. Not e-government, where the authorities use the web to provide the public with information and services delivered from above, but where we reinvent government as a platform connecting all of us around the issues and needs that matter in our own lives most.

Ogilvy 360 DI: In your opinion, what are some of "the success stories" that exist in the Gov 2.0 space?

A: ALEXANDER HOWARD, Gov 2.0 Correspondent, O'Reilly Media

Alex Howard

First, given recent assessments and what I view as a general consensus by close observers, we're in open government's beta period. There are definitely both risks and rewards to the use of Web 2.0 by federal agencies.

While U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra has hailed 2010 as the year of participatory platforms, they are still relatively early in their development. As is the case everywhere open government is in beta, the question of whether crowdsourcing national challenges at Challenge.gov leads to better solutions will remain outstanding for months time to come. While Challenge.gov may be the most visible platform, the first US CTO is thinking big in terms of using technology to meet the policy goals of the Obama administration. The re-launch of the Federal Register is definitely a success story. Other case studies include the Department of Health and Human Services, where CTO Todd Park is working on making community health information as useful as weather data. Open health data from Health and Human Services is driving more than 20 new apps. As Tim O'Reilly observed in his post on NHIN Connect and open healthcare records, "there's some fresh thinking going on here, influenced by the best practices of open standards and rapid Internet development."

The reboot of FCC.gov and rollout of APIs and developer engagement holds some promise. The launch of the Civic Commons code-sharing initiative could be a big deal to state and city governments. The progress of bringing open government to courts bears close watching. And if you're tracking the technology that will make government better, it's clear that network visualization and the mining of open data sets will have major utility for fraud detection and reduction. Abroad, the growth of government 2.0 in Australia and development of open government in Britain are key examples, particularly Data.gov.uk.

If you review the Gov 2.0 activity in summer 2010, however, you can see that the steady progress in this space. As we look ahead to the next Congress and the second half of the Obama administration's term, it's clear that open government is a mindset as much as a technology challenge. Taking on open government challenges at California scale is hard enough; making that transition at the federal level will be even harder.

Come join us on Monday, September 27th as we continue the conversation with these two luminaries and their fellow panelists Mark Murray, deputy political director for NBC News; Ari Melber, correspondent and blogger for the Nation magazine and Politico; and Gwynne Kostin, Director at the Center for New Media and Citizen Engagement at the GSA. To learn more about the event, read Rachel Caggiano's post and if you have not yet, RSVP on the Eventbrite.

Photos courtesy of Micah Sifry @ personaldemocracy.com and Alex Howard @ oreilly.com

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