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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.

You Have Been De-centralized!

There is temporary bi-partisan outrage at the recent revelations about PRISM and BARNEY and other strangely named programs. Rightfully so. Perhaps it is time for a new version of the Church Commission. The Digital Version. The last time I believe we have seen this type of temporary bipartisanship in the nation’s capitol was actually right after the tragedy of 9.11. So let us unite in a great cause then. Preserving our democracy.

Governments around the world are kind of missing the point. The point is not that they can siphon off our digital lives and chew on the digital breadcrumbs we all leave behind. The point is not that they are spying on us. That part should have been pretty obvious to anyone paying attention to Democracy since the Patriot Act was first written, then edited and updated and added to and continually re-authorized. But don’t kid yourself. This is not new.

The point is: The world has become de-centralized. Your life is decentralized in ways you could not have imagined even 10 years ago. You carry the power of what was the world’s most powerful computer 20 years ago in your pocket now. What used to take the resources of a government agency or large commercial entity can now be done by the crowd-sourcing of your life. You want the best new restaurant in town? Ask your friends on facebook. Need to get instant feedback on something? Tweet it. Want people to do a deep dive on something or really read it? Post it on Google+ or blog it. The point is. That we all can access information about anyone, anytime, almost as simply as by asking.

Technology has just rapidly increased the capabilities and speed of something that in one form or another has been going on for centuries. Governments have long spied on mail sent through postal services. The telegraph and telephone scaled that into a more real time (sort of) methodology. Now we have satellites, digital transmissions and our knowledge skills and access to powerful technology on a scale never seen in human history before. So governments are spying. So are big businesses. Every time you fill out a form online, or submit a sweepstakes entry, or use your credit card, or phone, or email, or go online, or drive your GPS enabled car.

Who then is really Big Brother? Governments around the world using spy gear and deep packet inspections to virtually rape your online life, or the corporations doing the exact same things, and or worse? Welcome to the future. Your future decentralized life. It is here now. Complete with two big brothers. Governments and Corporations.

Gov 2.0 Leadership and Visionary Moves

Well. Here we are.

As of May 24, 2010 – “You2Gov.com, You2Gov.org, You2Gov.net” are all now officially part of the History of the evolution of both the Internet and Government 2.0 The site is still up, and you will notice it up and down over next several weeks. It is not an identity crisis. It is not a retreat. It is a next step as one of the leading Gov 2.0 Companies in the United States.

Yes. It is true.

Being one of the pioneering and visionary Government 2.0 Websites in the United States and helping to unleash the Government 2.0 and Citizen 2.0 Movements is hard work. Along with being one of the principal private companies driving the innovative ideas now percolating through Capitols; State and Local, Federal and International, it is time for us to take a pause.  It is time to breathe.

We have worked tirelessly to build a citizen engagement platform. The Government loves us. The media loves us. But few people take the time to actually make use of these tools as of right now. After two years of providing cutting edge Government 2.0 capabilities – guess what happened? The Government 2.0 Community is growing. Fast. It is growing on Facebook, it is growing on Twitter, it is coming to a locality near you. But NOT necessarily as a platform. It may involve a real fabric of tools and applications; carefully woven together to increase transparency, open our governments to all of us, and stop organized corruption.

Instead of competing in a bloody red ocean over yet-to-be defined profit points – we have  decided to close the platform side of our business while focusing on other areas like further innovation and strategic consulting. Why? There is tremendous competition that is extremely well funded that is now just on the horizon, in those clouds over there. There is also amazing opportunity on the innovation, strategic consulting and multi-media aspects.

You2Gov is not going black.

Just our websites (sometimes) until the next generation of it/them appears.  That might seem counter-intuitive. But we are not focusing on this side of the Gov 2.0 equation anymore. We do have our sights focused on some other pieces that many are yet to be talking about. So instead of focusing our efforts on a platform that is now being replicated by many others in different forms, we will be addressing new areas of the Gov 2.0 and Gov 3.0 space.

Some of our highlights to now:

Being named to PC Magazine’s Best of 2008 List after only two months in existence.

Craig Newmark Taking an Interest in You2Gov’s Mission and following thru.

Rollout of Direct Democracy 3,0

Being Interviewed by Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris (several times, even with kids in tow!)

Creating the groundbreaking (and Taking Lots of Heat for it) GOV20LA

Executing on an incredible Gov20LA 2010. See all the  Long Form Videos Here.

Thanks to all who have in your own way helped to make this early part of You2Gov’s existence be such an exciting ride.

I especially want to note the following: Ralph J. Shapira, Lisa Cohen, Craig Newmark, Lewis Shepherd, Lovisa Williams, Bev Godwin, Naomi Caietti, Debra Bowen, Scott Johnson, my brother, my parents and everyone around us who support what the You2Gov platform is all about.

Sign up on the right over there —– subscribe to this blog, and learn about all of our next moves. Because – there is lots coming down the pike – and sometimes as progress and changes happen, so do unexpected movements. Innovation requires forward thinking and sometimes innovators make moves that are not clearly understood at the time, but reveal themselves as part and parcel of a larger process.

Alan W. Silberberg

Co-Founder, CEO, You2Gov, LLc.

Gov20LA Logistics

Ideas and Innovation

Gov20LA is coming up soon, Two weeks to be exact.

Los Angeles is not a walking town, generally. There are public transportation systems, but in the City of Los Angeles the bus system is the strongest. There is a Metro, but it only goes to certain parts of town. If you plan on taking cabs, most take credit cards.

Recommendation: Rent a car or get a hotel near the venue so it will be an inexpensive taxi ride.

LAX is roughly 35-45 minutes away from the event site without traffic. Additionally, due to the traffic intensity in Los Angeles, always allow a little more time to drive places than you think necessary.

Hotels:
We have reserved a block of rooms at the W Hollywood, which is opening the week prior to the Camp, and is where the Friday Night Reception will be held. The W is located on Hollywood Boulevard, right in the mix of the Hollywood scene, and next door to a Red Line Metro stop. The W is approximately a 10 minute drive from the venue site. Note: This link has a secondary confirmation process that is not obvious.
http://www.starwoodmeeting.com/StarGroupsWeb/res?id=1001219299&key=3363D
will set you up with a customized applet for the Camp.

Additional Hotels nearby:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g32655-d82578-Reviews-Beverly_Laurel_Motor_Hotel-Los_Angeles_California.html

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g32655-d274223-Reviews-Wilshire_Crest_Inn-Los_Angeles_California.html

Car Rental: While many of you may already get Government discounts on Rental Cars, you should also check out which offers deep discounts: Rental Car Momma http://www.rentalcarmomma.com/cities/california.htm Also: check the Big airline sites for their car solutions in LA, sometimes cheaper than discount travel sites.

Venue Information: The Camp will be held at http://www.blankspaces.com – which is located  on Wilshire Boulevard near La Brea. There are several restaurants, and bars nearby, as well as a Starbucks and a Staples next door. The site is a co-working “hotel” with powerful technology to support our needs.

Friday Night reception 7:00 -8:30pm will be RSVP only – please do so soon… Send an email about the Reception. Email: Register@gov20la.org

Saturday Morning registration starting bright and early at 8am, first session begins at 8:30am pst.

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

Direct Democracy 3.0

Political Power for Real People

Political Power for Real People

You2Gov recently announced the release of Direct Democracy 3.0.

http://www.you2gov.org/index.php/Direct-Democracy-3.0.html

You2Gov stands ready to answer questions, or assist your organization in adopting Direct Democracy 3.0 and utilizing it’s power for your members or users.

Please contact us at takeaction@you2gov.com

In support of this release the company is undertaking several Government 2.0 initiatives. You2Gov is planning on hosting an online open Government 2.0 discussion amongst experts, as well as informally advising Government officials in addressing social media needs.

In the future weeks, You2Gov will be making announcements about an International Consortium on Direct Democracy, as well as new client announcements. Keep your eyes on this spot for updates and new information.

#### Press Release ########

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ — You2Gov.com announced today it will offer its online advocacy tools, “Direct Democracy 3.0,” to organizations and businesses that want to transform their web sites into interactive communities where members can communicate with each other on a social network platform and contact their elected officials, among other things. The service was launched to help small businesses, non-profit organizations, trade associations and lobbying firms enhance their web sites by incorporating You2Gov’s technology that allows users to contact elected officials in a rapid, secure and private manner, as well as form online communities and stay up to date on relevant issues.

“We just watched the Obama campaign masterfully use the internet to raise record amounts of money, energize supporters, educate the public about the candidate, and get out the vote,” said Alan W. Silberberg, CEO of You2Gov.com. “In ‘Direct Democracy 3.0’, organizations have the same opportunity to use technology to more effectively work with their members and customers. Social networking and online advocacy tools change the entire dynamic for organizations by making advocacy simple and providing an online destination that members want to return to regularly. This is the future of communication and we are excited about partnering with businesses and non-profits to help them create online communities that result in a more engaged and active membership.”

You2Gov’s “Direct Democracy 3.0” advocacy tools include forums; a bulletin “blog” board for management to communicate with members; a calendar of events that management and members can add to; updated news and videos; a legislation research center that allows users to follow progress of legislation; a comprehensive action center where members can call, email or send letters to elected officials in Congress; and a back-end management program.

By using You2Gov’s technology, organizations can bring their members the same power of “instant communication” as major players in Washington, DC. You2Gov’s technology enables users to email, write, or call their representatives directly from their computer screen or PDA.

You2Gov – http://www.you2gov.com, a pioneering political social network, is one of the fastest growing political websites in America, and is on PC Magazine’s list of Best Political websites for 2008.