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

Takeways from Gov 2.0 L.A. 2011 Listening and Learning

Gov 2.0 L.A. 2011 is now behind us. Such an amazing experience. Thought leaders and practitioners, entrepreneurs and government leaders all came together in one place, for an out of the box weekend filled with very smart people and ideas as well as collaboration and innovation.

My big takeaway as the Founder of Gov20LA:

The amount of listening and learning going on now at all levels of Government, whether international or local is vast. We learned from the Canadian, British and United States Governments just how much active listening is occurring on the global social media stage right now. These countries are both pushing out content in their own and many other languages, but are actively listening and seeking engagement from citizens (not always their own) in other countries. This is a profound statement, and shows clearly the need for Governments to create social media listening command centers (like Dell has for example.) At the same time, we learned from local leaders some of the challenges they face not just in listening but in creating actions out of the issues at hand. I must have heard the term “listening” from almost every panelist and speaker this weekend.

The other big takeaway is the amount of learning going on right now. Two, three years ago, the learning was “so what is this social media/gov 2.0 stuff anyways?” Now – that learning has leapfrogged to best practices, to what is working and not working, and to what lessons can be applied from the private sector into the public sector and vice-versa. We have gone from “what is open source” to “which open source platform/software are you using and why?” The learning is going on from one level of government to another, from one country to another and from one person to another. Remember word of mouth? Social media just expands on that and creates a broader cycle and more rapid response to the word of mouth.

My third powerful takeaway: there is a quiet evolution occurring that is actually creating new companies, new jobs and new possibilities for the marketplace. The explosion of open data is creating new pathways for entrepreneurs to attack centuries old problems in some cases. The interest of the news media and society at large in social media as intensified in recent months due to the continued use of social media as a change agent in the middle east and due to the fact that social media is becoming ubiquitous in much of society. But we also have a very bifurcated social media arena globally. In the west social media means internet (mostly) based platforms and networks. But in many places in Africa, or Latin America, the only social media available is SMS based off of mobile platforms with no graphics or video. But yet these SMS based social networks allow for micro-finance banking to occur in areas where even just a few years ago there were no communications abilities let alone “banking” abilities. So the changes that these tools and technology are producing is profound already.

Did social media cause the events in Egypt, Tunisia? Most of the attendees seemed to agree (loosely) that while social media and mobility played a huge role in these events, it was not the social media itself that was the cause, but rather a highly efficient tool that was tactically and strategically applied in a chaotic situation. There has always been “viral marketing” we have just moved from slower forms of communicating those ideas to instant delivery. What social media did do in those countries was provide a place for planning, strategy implementation and networking and recruiting. But it still took real people to make a real decision to put their real feet on the real streets. So social media was but just one part of a much larger picture driving these historical events unfolding in front of our very eyes.

We are way past rhetorical and ontological debates about “What is Gov 2.0” or “what is Opengov.” We are now into the delivery phase of the good revolution we call loosely “Gov 2.0.” In fact anyone still spending time debating what “it” is has already benched themselves from the tremendous action and movement in this space now.

My most quoted statement from the weekend:

“*We* are the shareholders. *We* own this business called government.”

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.

Alan W. Silberberg Video: Change in Gov20, Gov30 from Gov20TV

I recently put this together. Government 2.0 Changes so quick you have to be able to think in Government 3.0 too. The old timetables and frameworks just don’t hold up. Change happens inside and outside your organization. Are you ready yet?  Be the driver of your own change, not the follower.

This is just an example of the type of out of the box thinking I pride myself on.

The Digital Divide circa 2011

The Digital Divide.

 It is still here, getting better and worse at the same time. I have written about the digital divide often, including its implications for Government 2.0 or “Gov 2.0″ as it is commonly called.

My most recent post on the issue is: http://www.silberberginnovations.com/silberbergs-gov-2-0-blog/updates-on-digital-divide-and-gov-2-0/. However since I am writing this on a tablet it probably won’t show up as a live link due to difficulty in pasting. 

But I have a tablet, smartphone and until today a laptop. My laptop died an in-glorious death, slowly by 1s and 0s. In one day my consumption of information has dropped, and I have to work harder to achieve roughly same level of output as normal.

All of these are first world concerns. There are millions and millions of people to whom a phone is often located somewhere other than where they live. People to whom a tablet is a piece of rock or wood to work or cook on. These people don’t consume information – except that by the oldest social media there is, word of mouth. 

Many great organizations around the world are addressing the Digital Divide in their own way. But as the speed and consumption of information rapidly increases around the world, what is happening to those not part of this torrent?