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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.

gov20lalogo

Preview of Gov 2.0 L.A. 2013 From Twitter.

Register for Gov 2.0 L.A. 2013 on Eventbrite

[View the story "Preview of Gov 2.0 L.A. 2013 From Twitter." on Storify]

Gov 2.0 L.A. 2013 is almost here.

As the founder of @Gov20la “Gov20LA” as it is referred to, I could not be more excited and proud. As the event gets ready to head into our fourth annual one; we are getting ready to make history, break some trendlines, and lead the dialog for another year.

But before discussing the amazing people who will be speaking I would like to highlight a major achievement of Gov 2.0 L.A.:

Since our first event in 2010, we have created and enabled an environment around building our speakers base as one that represents our society. So we have 50 percent female speakers and 50 percent male speakers. This is a critical achievement and comes at a critical time when this very issue is the subject of TV, Radio and written debate. Just recently there was an article by Nilofer Merchant (@nilofer) in the Harvard Business Review, with one of the salient points being made is that LESS than 20% of all conference speakers and panelists are Female. Less than 20%.

So Gov20LA is proud, as am I, to be able to say that we have beaten this particular national average and beaten it solidly. I continue to ensure that the speakers split for Gov20LA is evenly split between men and women, and did so because it is the right thing to do, not because we thought that in four years everyone would be talking about it. But that is what has now happened.

Gov20LA 2013 is going to rock! I could not be more excited about the powerful collection of women and men who will be speaking,

[View the story "2013 Speakers for Gov 2.0 L.A. " on Storify]

Thank you! We look forward to seeing you in person and in our live stream on April 20, 2013.

Alan W. Silberberg, Founder, Gov 2.0 L.A.

Moving down the Gov 2.0 Continuum to Deep Change Agent.

In the last 5 years or so “Gov 2.0” (Government 2.0) has grown from being a name coined by William Eggers to now becoming the umbrella term for serious change in Government, and not just here in the United States, but around the world.

Many people, including myself have written much about the term Gov 2.0 – everything from “What is Gov 2.0” to lists of people leading current efforts. Lots of other angles have been covered by both the traditional media and online media.

I focus primarily on people power and how people are at the heart of any Gov 2.0 discussion, whether in print or in person. In fact I have called Gov 2.0 a “good revolution” and as we have all seen in the last few years, this is true regardless of country. I do not mean to state that Gov 2.0 is causing revolutions. Far from it. However, the openness and transparency that Gov 2.0 efforts around the world advocate for; driven by mobility and the cloud – have allowed people to be heard. To hear each other, those people whether in government or civic life, in business or entertainment.

Now thanks to the “Triangle of Gov 2.0″ which is the social media and open computing use; the mobile and device specific tools; and the cloud which facilitates both; we now see individual people gaining access to information and power never seen before in our history in more than one country at a time. Now this is happening in multiple places.

People are driving the change. People are adopting the tools. People are leading the way in forcing governments around the world to be more open and accountable. With this innovation of course comes the other side. The very same tools that can promote openness and transparency can and are in turn used against the people by governments, both democratic and not.

But we are so past the “What is Gov 2.0″ phase that I wrote about in 2010. We have blown past the “look the government is using twitter and facebook” phase. Indeed, we have entered the big data and deep analytical tool phase – complemented by more and more machine readable databases that are continually presenting new and innovative uses and creating new businesses and jobs. But people are still at the heart of the matter. Without courageous leaders willing to stand up to the buffeting forces of politics, budgets and fear; we would not be seeing the deep and dramatic changes we are witnessing unfolding in many countries, and many cities, and localities. People are driving this change, this is the constant in Gov 2.0 since 2007.

Look Back at Gov 2.0 L.A. 2012

It Was Amazing. Thank you to all who made Gov 2.0 L.A. 2012 a success for the 3rd year in a row. We had over 44,000 people participate in our livestream of the event from at least 19 countries.

A huge Thank You goes out to Callfire, Citysourced, Rockcreek Strategic Marketing, Davenport Institute, TechZulu, for sponsoring and making this event happen.

All of the videos will soon be posted on to our Vimeo Page at http://www.vimeo.com/gov20la and additionally we will be posting the presentations shortly as well.

Enjoy this Storify post about the various tweets, photos, blogs, etc coming out of this event.

[View the story "Gov 2.0 L.A. 2012 in Tweets, Pictures, Blogs" on Storify]

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.

internet as seen through candles

Gov 2.0 Listening in 5 World Capitals.

Change is here. It is happening everywhere. I have been fortunate in the last few months to speak and also do a tremendous amount of listening and asking pertinent questions of minister level officials in 5 national capitals, on 4 continents. The pace of change in government use and implementation of social media, gov 2.0, open gov, egov and various other monikers is extremely rapid, in some countries it is breakneck.

But still the old bogeyman is hanging around. Fear. I have written about the role Fear plays in the gov 2.0 and open gov discussions around the world, but this recent world tour just confirms that fear is still the largest inhibitor to successful implementation of new plans, and actually stops some excellent programs right in their tracks. I have personally witnessed the role fear plays with minister level officials down to low level staffers as well as with political functionaries in multiple countries. I have been in meetings just this year where fear is so palpable in the room; that literally nothing gets done with the exception of voices being raised in anger or out of frustration.

That being said, there are also tremendous advances being made – both those that have been officially sanctioned and budgeted and those where courageous government workers are sticking their necks out to test, take chances and experiment. More and more it is less the top down movements and more the individual workers who are making the real changes. Because a shift in acceptance of a new role; of a new place in the workplace is well underway.

But besides fear, economic concerns are also hitting this movement, both positively and negatively. In USA budgetary crisis are causing ripples up and down the Gov 2.0 movement as it is called here. But at the same time the budget crisis globally is refocusing anew the issue of legacy system investment versus investment in new technologies that are often more cost effective and much more efficient.
So pretty soon we will be crossing the chasm of decision making from supporting older legacy systems and protocols with the need to be competitive on a data basis in an increasingly competitive and real time 24/7 world.

The time to make decisions about abandoning old legacy systems with a sunk investment versus the new-found results and applications available for cheaper alternatives is upon our society, and much like Y2K there is at least partially a ticking clock. This time it is how long will current systems last before not being able to operate in a new world?

In Europe which is also facing severe economic contractions, the funding for these programs is in fact increasing for now, but that may change if the EU financial situation continues to get worse. Additionally, certain European countries need to make a mind shift from cyber space equaling protection of assets versus cyber space being a multilateral space where protections of freedoms are just as important.

Australia is committing funding and new initiatives that will drive the adoption of these practices, including the NBN (national broadband network) which will effectively wire most of the continent to be able to implement egov and open gov quickly.

Canada is struggling with funding issues and a perceived innovation gap – but at the same time it actively encouraging the open gov coalition and just recently announced a new web standards policy and it is clear that there are some powerful ministers and ministries looking to adopt egov and open gov sooner than later.

The UK is getting ready to reveal its next new initiative “GovUK” currently in Alpha, getting ready to be launched in Beta, which will serve a government wide portal along the lines of Govusa, but with a much more direct call to action and a major change in how UK gov websites will be run and maintained in the near coming future.

Russia has a small but extremely active egov movement, and there are surprising strides coming out of Russia, including a gov 2.0 proponent now running for the Duma on an open gov platform. But given Russia’s history of top down management of its people and government, the egov movement in Russia struggles against the state dominated ownership and manipulation of both the media, and the infrastructure necessary to provide open gov, like ISP’s government maintained choking of internet access and the ability to shut off the internet from the people in a very dramatic fashion.

What I have learned mostly though, is that the breakneck pace of change that has been rattling the government and e-government spaces since 2008 is having real results globally. I will leave it to others to pick apart my statements or point to specific case studies. But reality is social, mobile, cloud are here and have forever changed how governments interact with themselves and with us.

As published on Silberberg Innovations

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.

Fear of change brought on by sudden onslaught of #gov20

My business partner and I were in meetings this week with a government agency dealing with sudden onslaught of “Gov 2.0.” Deja Vu. It came full blast this week from the year 2008. We might as well have been in an episode of the TV show “Fear Factor” as at some points fear was the major chasm to be crossed in the room.

Government 2.0 initiatives have been in full force since late 2009, early 2010. In 2008, however, the U.S. Government had not yet passed the Open Government Directive or the Joint Chiefs of Staff Open Source memo milestones. Officials were scared of change. Social media was a big angry beast that was not understood, not clearly developed in a government sense and something just to shy away from.

But we have moved to a point where major federal agencies not only have printed and published guidelines and existing working programs – but we are witnessing global cooperation on the Government 2.0 stage and collaboration is now fostering success. In late September of 2011 there will be a meeting of over 20 countries dedicated to Open Government and Government 2.0 around the globe. This is an exciting time for people like myself, advocating, pushing, pulling and even getting yelled at to accomplish change.

But still fear lingers, its wraith like fingers coming in the dead of night, or in the depth of a boardroom on a sunny day. Social media has its heroes and demons alike that is clear. But mobility, social connectivity and the desire for more transparency and openness create strange bedfellows. Just when an agency indicates a real need for Gov 2.0 – someone inevitably throws cold water. Sometimes freezing cold water, but still the movement continues, and the forward progression of the adoption of a new way of business for government continues uni-directionally.

My solution for fear based discussions about Gov 2.0? Look around. See all the successful implementations of open data, of social connectivity for Government and Citizens alike and see the results. It is not hard to find an example of government agencies adopting various parts of this big picture. Just ask your local fire department how they are using location based services. Or ask your local police department how they monitor social media for evidence of crimes. Look at the military using social media in offensive, defensive methods as well as for recruiting and publicity. Look at how the FBI regularly uses social media to tell the story about what they do. Look at the State Department’s continual innovations in new uses of mobility and social media. That is how your agency overcomes fear brought on by a sudden onslaught of Gov 2.0.

Brazil Govcamp shows continued Gov 2.0 Global Growth

Brazil “BrasilGov2.0″ Govcamp shows the Global Growth of Gov 2.0 and Open Government
http://www.brasilgov2.com.br/

Governments and the people they serve around the world are struggling to adapt to a new reality of real time information, demands for openness and transparency and more efficient service delivery. There is tremendous enthusiasm and interest in the utilization of social media, mobile and open data tools to remake the term “Government” as we know it.

Until recently, the majority of Government 2.0 initiatives were undertaken in places like the United States, Britain, Australia, Germany and Japan to name the leaders. The continued blossoming of this movement is taking hold in many other countries too like Brazil. Coming soon to Sao Paulo, Brazil is the next part of the dialog continuum.

Some recent examples of Open Government, and Gov 2.0 initiatives in Brazil:
http://www.webcitizen.com.br/en/tag/gov-2-0-summit/

and

http://shareable.net/blog/city-budgeting-gov-20-a-match-made-in-heaven

and

my friend Michael Walsh had this to say about Plone use in Brazil in a recent blog on Govfresh.

More on Gov 2.0 in Brazil:
http://www.brasil.gov.br/sobre/science-and-technology/open-source-software/open-source-software/br_model1?set_language=en This is an example of how the Government of Brazil is using Open Source software and solutions as an early adopter of the Open Government movement. So this makes Microsoft’s involvement even more inclusive and shows the depth to which this global company is looking outside itself as part of the effort to bring Government 2.0 and E-government to a reality around the world.

Government 2.0 requires the input, participation of many parties – obviously governments, also the big and small companies that service them, and of course the people. As a result there have been many conferences and “camps” that have sprung up to address the educational and collaborative needs of this emerging industry.

Microsoft is sponsoring Govcamp Brazil this coming June 8, 2011 with the idea of creating an open learning environment for anyone interested in Gov 2.0 in Brazil. While the event does require registration, it is open to all, whether Microsoft devotees or open source advocates. In fact, Microsoft is actively seeking the participation of as broad a group as possible to facilitate a collaborative dialog and create a new level of understanding. This represents a major part of Gov 2.0 - openness.

Rodrigo Becerra of Microsoft provided this insight:

“We believe that local communities have the passion, skills and insight to drive Gov 2.0 and OpenGov efforts on their own and we simply want to be able to provide a platform upon which they can dig deep into these issues. This is a space for creating connections to happen between citizens, organizations, groups and governments that may otherwise not exist. We have done them in Berlin, Mexico City, Colombia, Moscow, Russia, Toronto, Sydney, Wellington, Boston, Lisbon and will sponsor the Brazil event in the coming month. We specifically have local organizing committees run each event. We conduct them all in local language and invite social media, competitors and partners to revel in the discourse to help drive the progress of the Gov 2.0 movement.”

As the founder of Gov20LA in Los Angeles, California, I am thrilled to see how far and fast the Gov 2.0 movement is growing around the World. It is really encouraging to see this transformative change happening in places not often thought of for progressive thinking with regard to Government.

In full disclosure: I am an adviser to the Brazil Govcamp and am very excited to see what develops in this first ever Gov 2.0 Camp in Brazil.