THE BLOG
06/23/2010 12:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Gov 2.0: Monopolistic Companies and Community

It starts. I have been writing about fear driving much of the reactive decision making around the Government 2.0 and "Gov 2.0″ movement for a while now. Fear is most evidenced when the biggest players make monopolistic moves just because, well they can. They are afraid of the crowd at the gates with the apps, the platforms, the ideas and the innovations. This fear has been bubbling around the surface of the Gov 2.0 movement, yet rarely mentioned or discussed openly.

Yes, this is a total clash of cultures. The new way versus the old. The entrenched powers versus the upstarts. Truly David and Goliath proportions. Deal with it. Get over it. But trying to push out the young companies, many that are boot strapped by hard working entrepreneurs is just, well, lame.

Government 2.0 is but a tiny shadow of the famed Web 2.0 in terms of size and sheer media power, not to mention search engine inquiries. But it sure must be growing as evidenced by the monopolistic companies that are already trying to take over and push out innovators and entrepreneurs at the expense of Open Government and at the expense of transparency. The industry must surely be growing for the Giants amongst us to be defensively acting aggressively in the marketplace.

In the fall of 2009, I announced I was starting #Gov20LA -- and immediately came under attack from all quarters of the #gov20 space. Everything from "why would I do something like that in Los Angeles" to " it was not really a camp" to this wonderful blog item and this followup. Plus lots of stuff I won't blog or repeat in case my Mom reads this.

O'Reilly Media's, Alex Howard, @digiphile was at the First Gov20LA in February of 2010 on his own, not representing O'Reilly at the time. Here was his take. All of which shows what happens when the COMMUNITY is actually involved. Hello people, Gov20LA was open and transparent from Day One. That is what our community demands, and that is what we delivered. On a live stream to boot. Take the Community out, and you just lost your best ideas and dialog.

In the past year I have been approached by numerous Federal Agencies about maybe, possibly providing some free advice. This is not really ethical or proper business practice for Government officials. I have seen Google embed itself so thoroughly that their logo is now part and parcel on many Federal U.S. Government websites. This is probably not even technically legal, but still, there it is.

It is as if the term Government 2.0 or "Gov 2.0″ is somehow being mistaken for "Steal our ideas, Please." Open Government does not equal Idea Theft. Ideas are valuable commodities. Open Source does not mean open for stealing.

Now Microsoft is getting back into the big company act.

This clever little website was dropped onto the Government 2.0 community this week:

http://www.govcamps.org

No Transparency as to who really runs it.

Not much information. However here is the copyright information for the site at the very bottom:

"© 2010 MSGovCamp. All rights reserved. A solution by INgage Networks."

Odd thing too, Microsoft has been a major sponsor of most of the Gov 2.0 events. So does this mean they want to push everyone else out? Or is this an attempt to push their new platform? Or is it just an attempt to claim some virtual real estate? I can only imagine the effect on Bar Camps, Un Conferences and independent efforts this will have. Disclaimer: Microsoft was a Gold Level Sponsor of Gov20LA 2010. So I am pressing this case from someone who has worked with them, not from wishing I had.

Curiously more, the twitter stream has been mostly silent about this. The #gov20 search barely reflects any conversation about this.

It took Dominic Campbell in London to tweet it and bring it to my attention.

I for one see reason for concern, on many levels. So where is the concern from the Open Source and Open Gov and Bar Camp communities? Is anyone the slightest bit concerned that the largest player in the the space is now trying to consolidate even diverse events? My reasons for starting Gov20LA still stand, and in fact are now even stronger.

I look forward to Gov20LA 2011 this coming February.

NOTE: As of two hours after this post published the site is now simply a holder page. June 23, 2010. Additionally, I have subsequently had a telephone conversation with a representative from Microsoft in which the company clarified it's actions with regard to this site. I commend Microsoft for reacting to this both openly and transparently, and look forward to see what comes of the site when they relaunch it.