No offense to U.S. military employee Mark Drapeau and his quote-unquote “insider’s perspective on Government 2.0,” the title of a 1,365-word essay published on mashable.com today touting the benefits of the U.S. military embracing internet collaborative tools, but I must side with UK columnist Michael Cross who wrote a story for the Guardian last month, entitled, “Government 2.0 is a rubbish name for a good initiative.”
Granted, Drapeau doesn’t even mention “government 2.0″ in his piece, but he does write “web 2.0″ and “enterprise 2.0″ several times. Can’t he avoid confusion and keep to one term? Maybe the mashable editors coined the title. It doesn’t really matter, as sources left and right from Harvard Business Publishing to the Wall Street Journal also interchange the terms.
While I enjoyed reading Drapeau’s essay on government and social media, I take issue with three points which I raise below:
- Drapeau incorrectly speaks for himself and not the government
- Drapeau insists the DoD is underutilizing social media
- Terms like Government 2.0 should be stricken
1. Drapeau incorrectly speaks for himself and not the government
The following rests at the bottom of the mashable piece:
Dr. Mark Drapeau is the 2006-2008 AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security policy of the National Defense University in Washington. These views are his own and not the official policy or position of any part of the U.S. Government. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org via email.
When did the U.S. government stop owning its infrastructure? Regardless whether he checks his email from home or work, the dot-gov address is still owned by the government which provided it to him thanks to taxpayers and voters.
In that light, how can he not be speaking for the government?
Take out the email address line (too late now) and no argument from me. Else, he’s a government employee wanting to be contacted as such.
2. Drapeau insists the DoD is underutilizing social media
A science and technology policy wonk working as a Fellow at the National Defense University, Drapeau heads up a research project called “Social Software for Security.”
The project’s intent is to inventory available government technologies and meet with experts to identify impediments for military use. Longer-term, he writes the project would recommend to DoD leadership “an overall military strategy for using social software for national security.”
Using mashable.com as a bridge to those not knowledgeable about governmental goings-on, Drapeau writes about mingling at nerd conventions and meeting people “surprised that someone from the government or the defense department is interested in what they are doing.”
This is very notable. He goes on, pointing readers to his personal Twitter feed and adds, “These technologies have many potential benefits for our military forces.”
I wonder if Drapeau knows of U.S. Navy Captain Hal Pittman, former acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for joint communication, and the new commander of the Joint Public Affairs Support Element, according to last week’s news release from the U.S. Joint Forces Command.
In November 2007 testimony to a U.S. House Armed Services subcommittee, Pittman spoke of “a need for collaboration, coordination, and horizontal integration of our actions and words.”
We live in a world of citizen journalists, where every action or operation is witnessed, taped and reported, individual actions are amplified, and organizations face the challenge of strategic implication. In today’s flat world, a seemingly isolated interaction in the morning becomes fodder for bloggers immediately, appears on local television news by noon, and is international news by evening.
Pittman continued, “Strategic communication and public affairs blocks of instruction have been developed and are being incorporated into Joint Professional Military Education, working closely with the various academic institutions and the military war colleges,”adding that the Defense Information School began offering distance learning via internet classes in 2006.
The DoD embraced online learning two years ago? This is contrary to Drapeau’s claim that the military community “is definitely underutilizing the human resources in the [internet] community.”
3. Terms like Government 2.0 should be stricken
I admit that part of the problem here is people and institutions are promoting terminologies that say everything and nothing simultaneously. Ask 20 people who don’t work in IT or PR what “Web 2.0″ is all about and you’re likely to receive 20 different answers, with some people citing blogging, Facebook profiles and groups, NPR audio streaming, eBay buying-and-selling transactions, online choose-your-own adventure porn movies, and the like.
Ask those 20 people what “Enterprise 2.0″ or “Government 2.0″ are, in contrast to “Web 2.0,” let alone “social media,” and I’m willing to bet you’ll see a lot of raised eyebrows and “uhh” responses.
It’s fair to presume that if one has never seen all of these terms before, reading Drapeau’s article would be an eye-opener, literally, with seven references to Web 2.0 and one to Enterprise 2.0, let alone the title of Government 2.0. Heck, I was confused reading it!
I think people should pay less attention to fads and hypes like Government 2.0, which these terms really are. The concept of Web 2.0 has been around for almost five years and it’s still tossed around as if it’s brand new.
Call it something else. I’m going to use social media because it rolls off the tongue easier; and, who can’t define those words?
Tune in tomorrow for a follow-up on Drapeau and why 10 words he wrote in a comment response shows how little he appears to know about the U.S. government and social media.