Rocking Citizen Power in 2012.

As the 3rd annual Gov 2.0 L.A. (Gov20LA) approaches on April 21, 2012; I have been thinking a lot about why I started this conference and what it means for you, for me and for our futures. A few years back I wrote this piece “What is Gov20LA All About?”

In the 3 years since we have seen huge growth in social media, cloud computing, mobile technologies and the subsequent explosion of citizen involvement with our governments. This has caused all kinds of situations, good and bad. On the good we are seeing country after country begin to adopt open data and transparent aspects to their internal and external operations. We have seen citizens empowered to use their voice, many for the first time ever. We have witnessed several countries fall to “soft power” of people organizing, and then acting on the organization to effect change of a type we have never seen in our collective human history. On the bad, we are seeing totalitarian governments around the world cling to these new technologies and indeed even the people’s response to them; to crack down, imprison people, kill people and break up organized groups.

I have written in the past about the two headed side of #gov20 and social media in general with regard to Governments and the people who interact with them. This dichotomy is growing, not abating. We see people using technologies to force change yet at same time we are witnessing governments around the world investigate the same technologies to prevent change.

Gov20LA was created to act as a forum to collect the best and brightest people and their ideas and enable them to tell the world their stories. The idea has always been to empower people through learning about the cutting edge applications of technology in government and by the companies servicing them. We feel that by letting you see the speakers in a casual, yet live setting online – we all can learn from the human conversation and dialogue.

Technology is great, solves lots of problems and saves money when properly applied. The problem with most technology conferences and events is they are too jargon laden and usually do not encourage open dialogue with the speakers. We do the opposite. We want the dialogue. We want our speakers interacting both with the live audience in the room and the global Internet TV audience. So we have created an open environment, with some truly amazing people from inside and outside government leading the dialogue.

I am personally so humbled and excited by the continued awesome response Gov20LA receives worldwide. I can’t wait for this year. Join me. Thank you.

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3 Themes for Gov 2.0 LA 2012 (and it’s our 3rd year!)

The third Gov20LA is coming up soon. In fact in April of 2012 at the same location as this year.

As we have in the last two years, the event will be fully live-streamed and interactive with twitter, facebook, chat.

We are past the point where the “Gov 2.0″ in our name does more than evoke recognition. It is time to focus not on the theoretical but on the practical. This past year the world has witnessed upheaval and change on a scale that is new to all of us. When we did Gov20LA this year - Tunisia had just fallen, and the crisis in Egypt was just erupting in full; we had a collection of the some the world’s leading thinkers about guess what, social media in times of crisis and governments. It was to be sure pretty amazing timing. Hopefully the drama this coming year will once again be focused on the amazing speakers we will soon be announcing and the world eyes will be watching us with the ability to learn without being present in the room necessarily.

The three themes of this upcoming Gov20LA are going to be:

1. Business inside Government and how it is rapidly becoming different, things like SCRM are being deployed and government is basically being forced to restructure itself.

2. Goverments’ use and management of social media in crisis like the earthquake, hurricanes, riots.

3. Engagement is now being taken as a for granted thing, “everyone has a facebook page” but how real is it and how are crowd-sourcing and public private partnerships re-arranging the landscape?

We are requesting two things from you.

1. If you would like to submit a panel idea or speak please contact us here.

2. We will be issuing a follow up post before January 1, 2012 with regard to sponsorships and corporate opportunities, but if you are interested in sponsoring the event or some part of it, please contact us at Gov20LA@Gmail.com. Once again we appreciate all of the previous sponsors of the past two years, and could not have done it without each and every company and person who stepped up to sponsor the event.

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Reputations becoming like credit?

Remember those old AOL commercials on TV, the”You’ve got mail” campaign? It was wildly successful as a marketing slogan, as a commercial, and even as the title of a movie.

Times change. Social media is no longer just a buzzword, but really a part of daily life. It might even be like a utility in the near future, something the average person literally cannot live without. Now the new thing is a play on the old one, “You’ve got Klout.” Or do you? Or do you have Peerindex? Do you know your grade on Grader? Do you know what your Kred is?

It’s ok, most people have no clue. But you need to get a clue. It might seem like fun and games as in the social media stock market “Empire Avenue.” But the reality is people are watching. Employers, potential employers, clients, friends, enemies, ex-spouses, competitors, the police, governments, and of course giant database companies. It is like credit scores were maybe 25 years ago: they mattered but they did not rule your life like credit scores such as FICO do now. Social media influence and “credibility” are of increasing importance. So these scores, whether real or gamed; whether you subscribe or not, matter.

Klout did it again. They went and changed everyone’s numbers. Yes, everyone, even if you are not registered with them. They still monitor you, like a credit rating agency in real life. But most of the other analytical tools that measure social media don’t change as radically or as often as Klout. So what? Consistency is the key to listening and monitoring. These changes affect people’s reputations and people have little direct control over how those changes directly affect them. Klout risks losing market credibility with such wild changes to peoples numbers, without any charts showing historical records and how those numbers changed according to algorithmic changes as opposed to changes in the users social media behavior.

People are upset as evidenced by the thousands of tweets and posts on facebook; at least who follow this or care. But it affects all of us; at least all of us using the internet. It affects all of us with an email address attached to any social network, and therefore what people see in Google and Bing searches when they look you up. It really affects us because there are no standards being applied to the social analytics we are talking about, so numbers vary widely between the providers, and as Klout has demonstrated twice in the past 3 months can vary widely within one service.

Think about the big picture. Do not just rely on one of these services, but you should be actively checking on the health of your reputation. There are ways to make changes, but it requires one to pay attention first. You need to. Others are already.

Facebook Credits is going to change Gov 2.0.

Facebook credits. My definition is a virtual currency. Here is Facebook’s definition. In all transparency: I know of them but have not used them yet. I have personally used Skype credits – and also Google credits – as well as participated in various virtual worlds and made use of those virtual currencies – so I have some understanding at least. All of these are basically re-purposed financial transactions given a virtual edge if you will. I read some of the history of virtual currencies, there have been many false starts, and some minor success stories like Linden Labs. But nothing on the scale of what Facebook might be able to do.

But Facebook Credits is different. Why? Because Facebook is the equivalent of the third most populous country in the real world, with over 500 million people around the world. Already, credits are becoming a money earner for Facebook in real cash.

So when this virtual currency (credits) begin to be used in non virtual situations what happens to real world currencies? How does the value of the credit relate to the item being purchased (swapped/bartered/traded?) How do Facebook Credits relate in price and value to the major currencies of the real world? Who will come up with this formula? If you buy Facebook credits in your home country, in your currency, then travel somewhere else and buy something what is the value of your credits? In which currency?

Already, “Virtual Currency Monetization” is it’s own tiny industry and growing very fast with a handful of start-ups and other companies chasing a market based on converting virtual “credits” to real money and or products. There are even companies touting themselves as “Virtual Currency Exchanges.” How long till the real currency exchanges push into this action? Facebook itself is advertising it’s partnerships with Rixty and Coinstar in supermarkets across the U.S to collect coins and convert to pre-paid Facebook credits debit card. So apparently the move to turn Facebook Credits into at least something like a real currency is already on.

Why this matters to Governments, Gov 2.0 specialists and practitioners, is pretty basic:

A. If a transaction is done in Facebook Credits for a real world item, what is the tax basis and who collects?
B. If a transaction is done in Facebook Credits that results in cash back – what currency denominates as the basis for a “Global currency?”
C. If and when Facebook starts to push to have it’s virtual currency become a real currency, what will it be weighted in? How will this affect real world currency fluctuations and global trading?
D. If Facebook successfully pushes it’s credits into the real world – will they be traded like other currencies? Who will regulate?
E. For all the Government agencies with “Facebook” like buttons on your properties? Did you know that you are part of a virtual economy? Are you tailoring your fee acceptance rules (ie check, cash, credit card) to include Paypal, Google checkout at the least, let alone Facebook credits? If not, why not?

State of Economy, 2008

If you have ever read or seen a Russian LATA, this may mean more to you. But basically, this sums up the state of the U.S. Economy, circa 2008. The picture is courtesy of 3 toddlers who took the LATA apart in minutes and a mobile phone.  Note the wheels and hubcaps missing, as well as the engine. That about says it all.

State of U.S. Economy, 2008

State of U.S. Economy, 2008