Nov 14, 2008

Mr. MySpace Goes to Washington

From ClickZ a marketing newsletter.
...the e-government initiative goals are modest. For instance, it states that it aims to make the federal government the "best manager, innovator and user of information, services and information systems in the world." What does it mean to be the best? "Citizens and government decision makers have the ability to find information easily and securely," the e-government report states. Unfortunately, that goal feels like it was written in 2000 when the focus was on one-way communication rather than in 2008, when people expect to participate in conversations.

..."Agencies and government leaders are not used to the wide-ranging interactive discussions with multiple participants that many of the newer Web technologies and strategies offer," reads the report published by the OMB Watch, a nonprofit group that promotes open government and citizen participation.

Coalition recommendations aimed at fostering greater participation include:
  • Appoint a chief technology officer. Obama has advanced this proposal. And there's lots of speculation over potential candidates. BusinessWeek last month mentioned Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Vint Cerf, Google's chief Internet evangelist as possibilities. And lots of priorities for the office have been floated, including these mentioned by the Personal Democracy Forum's tech president.
  • Encourage agencies to implement Web 2.0 technologies. "Wikis, comment sections, collaborative projects, public review of pending policies, and online dialogs are all relatively simple ways to start experimenting online," the coalition recommends.
  • Allow government agencies and employees to use free online services such as Twitter and YouTube. "Adoption of new and changing tools is essential to legitimate online engagement," the coalition writes. Government agencies are apparently reluctant to use free Web services because it might give the appearance of favoring one company over another.
  • Make online government information searchable, shareable, and useable. While government agencies maintain lots of data -- from national mortality statistics to the federal budget outlook, not all can be found online. Some agencies don't allow search engines to crawl their Web sites, in effect making information invisible to people online.
Full article at

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