Do we have to define Gov 2.0?


There is so much being written about Gov 2.0, about what it means to different people - however we have no ‘formal definition’.  Personally I am one of those people who does not really care if we cannot all agree on a definition – Gov 2.0 will continue to change, lets not tie it down.

I rather liked the one a colleague of mine, Bill Gaylor (Public Sector Architect at Microsoft) spotted on GovLoop – Next Generation Government: Mobile, Measurable, Malleable

  • Mobile: the idea that work is no longer a place, but a set of tasks that can be performed anywhere – whether that’s in a government-owned building in a major metropolitan center or a privately-owned family farm in the middle of Minnesota. In the private sector, this type of flexible work environment is already commonplace
  • Measurable: But now you wonder: How will we know if anyone is really getting any work done in this brave, new, mobile environment? Well, I have a ready answer for you! We make sure that every aspect of our work is measurable. What better builds trust between manager and employee than a clear set of tasks with target dates and appropriate metrics? If I know what needs to get done and by when, why does the how and where matter?
  • Malleable: Finally, when I heard words like inclusive, responsive, open, efficient, transparent, and innovative, I needed another “m” word…and malleable came to mind. tells us this word means “capable of being shaped or formed; able to adjust to changing circumstances; adaptable.” As collaborative technologies make our democracy even more participatory, enabling citizens to become more actively engaged in decision-making processes through projects like the Open Government Initiative or the Recovery Dialogue on IT Solutions

Now you may agree or disagree, but different people want different things from Gov 2.0 and we should not constrain ourselves with a strict definition.  Take for example the entry on Wikipedia for Government 2.0, I have to admit I think it misses the point a bit:

Government 2.0 is neologism for attempts to apply the social networking and integration advantages of Web 2.0 to the practice of government. Government 2.0 is an attempt to provide more effective processes for government service delivery to individuals and businesses. Integration of tools such as wikis, development of government-specific social networking sites and the use of blogs, RSS feeds and Google Maps are all helping governments provide information to people in a manner that is more immediately useful to the people concerned.

I think it is far more that just applying Web 2.0 to Government.  As a technologist is frustrates me that people think they can install Gov 2.0; that by having a Twitter feed they have ticked the Gov 2.0 box.

So, I don't think we need a strict definition of Gov 2.0; I just think that some definitions are better that others.

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