Gov 2.0 – We Need to Get Past the Honeymoon Stage of Our Relationship

I was in Las Vegas this week to participate in BlogWorld 2009 with some of the industry’s biggest big-wigs in social media. I really like going to conferences like this and next week’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco because they help me escape the Gov 2.0 echo chamber that I sometimes get trapped in back in DC.  The people I meet, the presentations I hear, and the conversations that I have while at these conferences help me get a more realistic view of what’s going on with the Gov 2.0 movement.  This week’s conference was no different.  Between this week and Brian Drake’s excellent blog post, I realized that we (the “Goverati”) are still very much in the honeymoon stage of Gov 2.0.

Allow me to explain. I liken it to when you first start dating a woman and everything is going well – you talk for hours, you spend every waking moment with each other, and you talk to your friends about how great everything is going.  This goes on for a few weeks or months – it’s still new, it’s still fun, and perhaps most importantly, it’s not anything like that last awful relationship you had.  However, this is also the time when you’re ignoring the fact that she made you meatloaf the other night for dinner and you hate meatloaf but all you could say was, “I loved it honey.”  This is also the time when your buddies might start telling you that this girl is crazy-annoying, but you laugh it off and tell them that she’s the best thing that’s happened to you.  This is the time when you have a distorted view on reality because everything is so new and fun and different.  This is the stage that we find ourselves with Gov 2.0.

Gov 2.0 is still so new that we talk about it ad nauseam with anyone who will listen, it’s the greatest thing to happen to the government ever, and it’s most definitely not at all like that last command and control relationship where we didn’t have a voice and were bullied around all the time.  Not anymore, we say!  We have Government 2.0 now and everything is perfect!!  However, we’re making the same mistakes that everyone in the honeymoon stage makes – we’re writing off mistakes (and outright failures) as minor quirks, we’re ignoring logic in favor in the new girl/technology, and possibly most damaging, we’re ignoring the people who are giving us constructive criticism because they just don’t know her (Gov 2.0) like I do.

Coming out here and participating in BlogWorld showed me the next stage of our Gov 2.0 relationship.  It showed me people asking the tough questions, demanding more out of the community, and tackling some very polarizing legal issues.  People were almost unanimously friendly, but there were definitely some disagreements and debates to be had, not to mention some good-natured ribbing.  It showed me a relationship where the participants have finally started to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can be honest about them.  It showed me what Gov 2.0 can and will be if we just start admitting it to ourselves.  Yeah, Gov 2.0 is absolutely great and it’s most definitely changing government for the better.  That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect though.  There are things we can do better.  There are things we can do more of.  And there are things that we need to address before we can take that next step in our relationship.

  1. Realize that not all is perfect in the land of Gov 2.0 While we’ve had a lot of success, let’s not sweep our weaknesses under the rug.  Let’s identify what’s going wrong and talk about it.  We have showcases to talk about all of the successes – why don’t we have an event to talk about the challenges we’re facing and how to overcome them?  Oh wait – we will…
  2. Identify the skeptics and open up a dialogue with them – let’s stop talking about how great we all are amongst ourselves.  I want a conference where that CIO who continues to block access to social media talks about why they’re blocking it.  I want to hear from that Admiral explaining why he’s banned his sailors from using social media.  I want to go to an event where I can talk with the guy who decided to shut down the UGov email system and learn more about the pressures he’s facing.  I want an event, well, an event like this
  3. Hear the war stories of the people who have gone before us – Listen, I KNOW that there have been people who have been fired, reprimanded, demoted, moved to another project, and just flat-out yelled at for some of their Gov 2.0 efforts.  What happened and why?  What are the battles that people are facing?  What are the battles that have been won and lost?  I know that I’ve dealt with people yelling at me, laughing at me, and/or dismissing me for my Gov 2.0 efforts over the last three years – I’m sure there are others out there who would be able to learn from these experiences, just as I have.  Let’s talk about them

Don’t get me wrong – I love Gov 2.0 and I think we’re going to have a long and successful relationship.  I just think we’re to the point where I can tell her that I hate meatloaf without thinking she’s going to get angry with me.  If you agree, and want to help, leave a comment here, tweet this out, and tell your friends – we need the help of the community to identify those people who will tell us the hard truths that our friends won’t because they don’t want to hurt our feelings.

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About sradick

I'm an SVP, Senior Director at BCW in Pittsburgh. Find out more about me here (

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