Thinking About Government Communications

vending machineIn his latest blog post about social media buzzwords your mother should know, Laurent Francois defines social media, itself, as people talking to people once they’ve logged in.


Our ancestors are familiar with interpersonal communication via in-person events, from tribal gatherings to political forums to club meetings to cocktail parties. In time, letter writing was in vogue. More recently, cellular and broadband communications–enhanced by the internet–became the de facto forms of quick talk. Why walk down the corporate hall to talk to your coworker when you can send an email or an “instant message” via cellphones and computers?

Government 2.0 asks how communication can innovate government.

Government is a vending machine, said Tim O’Reilly at the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase this week in Washington, D.C., in front of an assembly of hundreds of government managers, technologists, and assorted consultants (such as me). The man who coined Web 2.0 argued your questions and complaints about government services are analogous to shaking the machine.

He elaborates in this interview with Joseph Porcelli:

But is government listening to online conversations?

Does it care?

“We’ve got to recognize that we can’t treat the American people as subjects but as a co-creator of ideas,” President Obama’s chief information officer, Vivek Kundra said to Government Computer News writer Wyatt Kash in June. “We need to tap into the vast amounts of knowledge…in communities across the country. The federal government doesn’t have a monopoly on the best ideas.”

The triumvirate of,, and is a start–but those are sites owned by the government and provided to you. In other words, those websites are items in the vending machine.

Curious what’s being developed with both taxpayer money and private funds to create tools and process to complement government services? Curious why the vending machine may not need to be shaken at all? Stay tuned.

Three days into my journey, more blog posts extrapolating the #gov20e and #g2s Twitter tags and my personal reflections are coming.