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Digital Diplomacy, 4 years and now change.

Wow. There is a sea change happening in the Middle East. The 2013 Iranian Election will mark the end of one cycle, and the beginning of another. What a long path to this point.

The cycle ending is the cycle of the first few revolutions/civil wars and government overthrows that happened in full view of, and in part due to social media. The one beginning is going to become the post-social media middle east. One where the power of the people, won out, country after country.

Just a brief history.

In the late spring and early summer of 2009, Iran was in the throes of pre-election frenzy. There was a moderate trying to overthrow the conservative leadership through peaceful, democratic means. But it turned bad, and turned bad fast. The Green Revolution as it was called, inspired people to great heights of hope and also tremendous depths of despair that resulted from the horrific human rights abuses, torture, death, kidnappings, rapes, that were committed by the Iranian Government and it’s religious and civil allies to prevent the Green Revolution from succeeding.

I documented this struggle of the Green Revolution on Twitter, on Facebook and on You2Gov which was the website I had started in 2008 and which we put into hiatus in 2010. Here is the twitter history. In fact it was this period with the efforts I and many others did to document the digital, social history; and to learn from it that was one of the reasons I started “Gov20LA” in the first place. People’s voices need to be heard. In a good and positive way that allows everyone, those in government and those outside to feel comfortable making changes. Changes have to come from multiple parts of society not just one. But this has to be in moderation.

Since then we have seen the Occupy movements spring up in cities around the world. We have seen Tunisia, and Egypt fall with in the same week almost in 2011. I talked about this at the opening of Gov 2.0 L.A in 2011. We actually did a “Digital Diplomacy Panel” at the 2011 Gov20LA event. In part the exploding use of social media and mobile technology was openly discussed in a live stream during that panel.

Now, we see Turkey struggling with their own version of the “Arab Spring” that many people are referring to as #OccupyGezi on Twitter and other social media. Syria and Russia are going through massive social change again, with Syria in middle of a bloody and growing civil war; and Russia moving to limit rights of protestors, and curtailing free speech more and more.

But four years after the Green Revolution, the people of Iran have delivered a surprise to the world. A moderate. With none of the bloodshed or violence of the Green Revolution from four years ago. This time around #Iranelection is a positive hashtag with huge meaning. No longer meaning death, torture.

I think it is time for Syria, Turkey, Russia to pay attention and start making changes now. Because clearly, the power of the people when amplified by social media and mobility, is world changing power. Power in the hands of the people.

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.

reputationmanagement

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?

Gov 2.0 needs You 2.0

republished from Silberberg Innovations.

As a longtime proponent of the need to break down citizen engagement with our governments into simple to understand segments, I am thrilled by the recent conversations again about the importance of People and language. It is something the planners of Gov20LA 2010 took very seriously. The discussion around Government 2.0 – the revolutionary approach of applying working web applications to solve old time government problems. But really, it is about getting your “You 2.0″ on. Engage. Roll up your sleeves. Fix the problems.

So in advance of the coming fall Gov 2.0 conferences, un-conferences, camps, uncamps, etc – I want to take it a step further. So you can now solve some basic problems with your local governments You can in many states now go online and handle the majority of your DMV related issues, as in this case in California.

What else has the Government 2.0 Revolution done for you? Or for a neighborhood near you?

Here are some examples:

These are just but a few of the many examples around the World of the Government 2.0 revolution taking root with engaged Citizens 2.0. Yes, there will be stumbling blocks. Yes, there are still those who would prefer to hide their heads in the sand and pretend this day was not coming. But, Gov 2.0 is here to stay. Now when are you getting your Citizen 2.0 on? Or even better, when are you getting “You 2.0″ on?

Open Government. Direct Democracy, first in series.

This is the first of a series on Open Government and Direct Democracy.

Today I am focusing on a look at where we are as a Society with regard to creating Digital Democracies and a true participatory political environment.

There is a lot of talk on Twitter and Facebook and  lots of other social networks including this one Y2G about the recent election of President Elect Barack Obama and how he so skillfully utilized the latest social networking tools in both creating and retaining followers and in mobilizing millions of people to make “micro donations” which resulted in his record breaking fundraising.

What does this mean for Open Government, Direct Democracy and other terms of the electorate being engaged with the elected?

There are websites that allow you to track legislation and contact your elected officials in a secure manner like You2Gov, and there are others focused on creating conversation between the officials and the people they work for. In 1776 when the the United States was founded in Philadelphia during a hot summer with no air conditioning, the people came together and met face to face and heard each other out. Over the past several decades as media has coalesced into a one directional broadcast model, the interactions and dialogue have been allowed to shrink dramatically. It became a one way tunnel. Now we are taking that space back, and showing the need for open dialogue between elected and electorate.

The explosion of social media in the last 5 years whether YouTube, MySpace or blogging sites like Huffington Post has brought those interactions and dialogue back into the front. We are now beginning to experience Democracy in the most direct and digital ways like it was envisioned to some extent by the founding fathers. The dialogue is front and center and the officials are listening to some extent, which will only increase as time goes on.

You can now use our site to call the President, Vice President, and your other elected officals from the site. You can blog your own thoughts on thousands, nee millions of outlets. You can organize in ways unheard of 10 years ago. You can take advantage of these tools to become a better and more informed citizen. Why are you not taking advantage of these tools? How come you just tune into your social media or your TV and watch these historic World changing events happen? The tools are there, and in our case are free, it is your turn.

Next: Part II

Why is Open Government so important?

Alan W. Silberberg

CEO You2Gov

You2Gov Founders Write Article for Huffington Post

Political Power for Real People

Political Power for Real People

Below is the text of the original Huffington Post article written by the Founders of You2Gov as it appears today on the Huffington Post. Please go to the original URL below to comment directly on this article. Thanks Arianna and David.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-w-silberberg-and-ralph-j-shapira/bloggers-lead-media-to-re_b_131155.html

Bloggers Lead Media to Report McCain/Palin’s Campaign “Lies”

Can you imagine our buttoned-up mainstream media calling McCain and Palin “liars” had bloggers not exploded with that epithet over the past month, and proved it, lie by lie? With blogs leading the way, the MSM’s customary restraint fell away like scales from their eyes because gentlemanly “balanced” prose couldn’t adequately convey the truth, and because the stakes are so high.

The MSM knows their failure to call this spade a spade enabled GW Bush to bootstrap two lying campaigns into a profoundly dishonest administration that has disgraced and weakened our great nation. They don’t want to be patsies all over again. This time, it needs to be done right, and everyone recognizes just how high the stakes actually are.

This is yet another case of the Internet transforming our political processes. It has enabled citizen journalists to find wide audiences, unblocked by traditional media “gatekeepers. It has diluted the political influence of monied interests by raising overwhelming sums from millions of citizen contributors. It mobilized armies of partisans for political organizing and campaigning.

And it has significantly advanced the cause of finding the truth. While traditional media have disparaged blogs as being unreliable, that chaotic, unmediated world known as “the blogosphere” has led the way in ferreting truth from falsehood.

We think politically-oriented social networking is the next step towards democratizing our Republic. Micro-niche social networks are the wave of the future that is already casting its water upon our shores. By providing forums for citizens to test and compare their views, networking tools to enable like-minded people to cooperate in groups to effect change, extensive information resources for research and education, and communications tools to facilitate dialog with elected officials, networks like You2Gov will help break the stranglehold our traditional media and political parties have exerted on our great public discussions, reinvigorating our democracy.

Users of You2Gov actively utilize our tools to contact members of the House and Senate directly from the Internet during the financial crisis that is gripping the United States. There is extensive one to one dialogue and one-to-many dialogue occurring each day on multiple websites and social media like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs and podcasts not to mention email and telephone. What is starting to develop is a cohesive currency of information, tested and verified, that is flattening our ability to achieve power plurality with our leaders. As time goes on, these tools will make each citizen a recognizable base of local power, much like companies and trade groups now enjoy.