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

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 LA 2011 Feb 12-13.

Just about a year ago, I penned the first edition of this blog post. Back then, I was running You2Gov – which was a groundbreaking Government 2.0 Portal. The idea for a free flowing – yet focused un-conference available to people who may not normally be at or on the traditional conference road trip stemmed largely from desiring to create a transformational gap from sameness in the meetings, conferences, and “camps” I had attended in 2009 – 9 in total.


In February of 2010 we unleashed the First Gov 2.0 Los Angeles “un-conference” or un-camp. Cory Ondrejka rocked the keynote speech with a trip back in time on naval ships. It was truly a fantastic event for everyone live in the room in Los Angeles, and everyone around the World participating on the live stream on the internet.

A lot has changed since then. You2Gov is now a memory thanks to the rapid evolution of government websites now offering what we offered, thus eclipsing the need for it. Government 2.0 and even “Gov 3.0” applications are popping up all over the world. The case studies are now real. The marketplace is starting to try to find itself. It is an exciting time for all of us participating in the real world, real time implementation and analysis and discussion of the Government 2.0 and Gov 2.0 movement.

Here is a video from this year’s Gov20LA 2010 which sums it up nicely:

Gov20LA 2010</a

www.Gov20LA.org We had an amazing weekend this February and will be creating something at least as enticing for February 2011. So what are you going to find this year? Here is a starter kit with lots more to follow:

1. How innovation translates to implementation. The case studies of the applications and strategies that are working now, and those that failed.
2. The Intersection between crisis management, global real time listening ability and the local Government leader. How this translates to an equally strong Citizen 2.0.
3. The International Gov 2.0 space is growing fast, what can American companies and Governments do in anticipation of a wave of applications, platforms and partnerships/strategic alliances with U.S. based companies.
4. The virtual and mapping side of Gov 2.0 is exploding. What cutting edge virtual Gov 2.0 tools do you need to learn this year?
4. Highlight several leading Government 2.0 companies through short burst live presentations with follow up Q+A.
5. Bring Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Washington, DC into one place so the financial deal-makers can meet the innovators and funding linkages can be created.

Additionally, we will continue to live stream the full event as we did this year, with the addition of a Spanish language component as well.

Planning committee, venue, sponsorships and pricing information will be available shortly.

Date: Weekend of February 12 and February 13, 2011.

If you have any ideas to contribute with please use the Gov20LA Semantic Web Idea site. http://gov20la.bubbleideas.com/home

You2Gov to show at NCSL

You2Gov Bringing Power to the People

You2Gov Bringing Power to the People

www.you2gov.com

You2Gov CEO Alan W. Silberberg will be attending the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislators) annual meeting in New Orleans this week, and will be presenting new information to the Legislators and their staffs, as well as the Media and Press in attendance.

www.ncsl.org

You2Gov is already linked to all 50 state legislatures, as well as to the U.S. Senate, and House of Representatives and is poised to provide seamless one touch communications with your elected officials at the State and Federal levels, and within weeks will be rolling out additional new features designed to make You2Gov your one stop place for all things social and political on the web.

We look forward to joining with all of the State Legislatures and the hard working people who work tirelessly in them for all of us, this week in New Orleans. Most importantly we look forward to showing these leaders from all across America, how You2Gov is quickly becoming the site to organize around issues and take action.