A global tidal wave of disruption is coming, driven by social media, open data and mobile

A new Federal Computer Week feature on Gov 2.0 trends is full of solid reporting by Alice Lipowicz but hamstrung by a badly chosen headline about a “Gov 2.0 boom being over” and a lede that posits that the “go-go days of ‘Gov 2.0’ social media and mobile applications likely are over.”

As evidenced by his new post on Govloop on “the long boom of Gov 2.0,” Gadi Ben-Yehuda, a smart analyst of the use of social media in government at IBM’s Center for Business in Government, also found some issues with the framing. Ben-Yehuda looks at the growth of the mobile web, stand-alone apps, data warehouses, internal social media, and cultural changes for examples. I’d point to the role of social media in politics and government and the continued explosion of mobile applications and rapid adoption of smartphones around the globe as evidence for why the “go-go” may not have “gone gone” quite yet.

To the publication’s credit, a Federal Computer Week editor changed the title of the piece to “Now the real work begins,” albeit without a note about the change. While the citizens and public servants who have been striving in town halls, government agencies, universities and server rooms for years to open up government data, change policies and culture, and build civic applications or startups might take exception to that characterization of their efforts over the years, the change is a huge improvement

The timing of that characterization was particularly off, given that we all just saw the week that the Web changed Washington. When I look back at open government and Gov 2.0 in 2011, there’s good reason to believe that the trends I documented there (with the assistance of the Govloop community) will extend further into 2012, both for good and ill.

The reason I accepted Tim O’Reilly’s offer to cover Gov 2.0 is because I see it as a far bigger trend than open data or social media alone. Open government and Gov 2.0 are about much more than open data — just read the chapter subjects in “Open Government.” Or look at the issues that flow around the hashtag, like identity, privacy, security, procurement, culture, cloud computing, civic engagement, participatory democracy, corruption, civic entrepreneurship or transparency, many of which readers can find covered in the hundreds of posts here or on Radar.

If we accept the premise that Gov 2.0 is a potent combination of open government technology, mobile, open data, social media, collective intelligence and connectivity, borne upon the platform of the Internet, the lessons of the past year suggest that a tidal wave of change is still building world wide, not that “the boom is over.” There is indeed a lot of “real work” ahead, but it’s built upon the foundation that civil society has constructed over decades. If you want a deep look at what that work might look like, read citizen archivist Carl Malamud’s interview with Slashdot on opening government data.

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.


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