Making sense of Gov 2.0, Open Government and We Government at Ogilvy

What is Gov 2.0?

How does making government smarter relate to open government, e-government or “We government?”

As Sifry put it in the Huffington Post this week ,

At Personal Democracy Forum, we prefer the term “We-government,” the co-creating of new forms of collaboration and service that use technology, public data and the social web to address vital issues and solve public problems, that enables us to do more with less. It’s neither Right nor Left, not small government or big government, but effective do-it-ourselves-government.

What are the early success stories and challenges for an open government in betaThis morning in Washington, I dodged rain drops on my way to a Gov 2.0 panel moderated by Ogilvy Digital’s Rohit Bhargava to talk about that very topic, joining Personal Democracy Forum co-founder Micah Sifry; Mark Murray, deputy political director for NBC News; Ari Melber, correspondent and blogger for the Nation magazine and Politico; and Gwynne Kostin, Director at the Center for New Media and Citizen Engagement at the GSA.

The panel was livestreamed at and integrated with the Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence Facebook page for an online audience. Fast forward to about 30 minutes into the archive for the beginning of the event.

“We’re just beginning to see the government using the Web in a more porous, participatory way,” said Sifry, who saw no reason that government workers couldn’t get technology in the same way other citizens else can. “Really, government workers have mastered the telephone,” he said. “The can probably use Web 2.0 tools.”

Gov 2.0 Case Studies

While Sifry was critical of the White House’s embrace of Gov 2.0 and open government, he observed that at the agency level he’s seeing “a flowering of initiative.” That’s backed up by what I’ve seen on the ground and have reported on in numerous studies. For instance:

“There is a civic surplus waiting to be tapped of people who want the country to succeed,” said Sifry. And, in fact, I reported on Harnessing the Civic Surplus for Open Government,” when Noveck spoke in Manor, Texas about all of these initiatives.

I’m shortchanging the comments of Melber, Kostin and Murray due to time, unfortunately, but the #Ogilvy360di tweetstream and archived livestream offer additional perspective. Both of the reporters provided ample insight into the hyper-charged world of national correspondents in Washington, where news and issues move almost as quickly as the polls. More of Kostin’s thoughts may also be fond at her blog, OnDotGov.

Selected reflections from the online audience:

@msspinach: “The hot question: what exactly is #gov20? Gwynne Kostin: ‘We’re still throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks.'”

@voleynik:#Gov20 = government using the web to create better services for citizens. Creating smarter more effective government.”

@SaBean21: “Our bill of rights is being used in a digital form. Open platform is a tiny & fragile thing we have right now.

@dlblack: “@digiphile: the gov20 / #opengov conversation can’t just be about Washington, it has to be about data people can use”

@msspinach: “#gov20 means whoever is in power gives up some cntrl. If u want group prticipation, ppl need to feel they’re being listened to.”

@merici:”Ok, social media exists. We get it. Moving fwd, what are ex of gov using web to be smarter, more efficient?”

@dlblack: “not all #gov20 projects need to be about mass participation, they need to be about exchanging knowledge w/right audience”

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.


Should the White House be spending time making animated GIFs?

Earlier today, however, a mechanical engineer named Claudio Ibarra commented on a Google+ thread that he thought that the animated GIF was a “waste.”

Beware openwashing. Question secrecy. Acknowledge ideology.

You could spend a long day listing all of the organizations or individuals who are putting government data online, from Carl Malamud to open government activists in Brazil, Africa or Canada.

What is the ROI of open government?

Putting a dollar value on clean water, stable markets, the quality of schooling or access to the judiciary is no easy task. Each of these elements of society, however, are to some extent related to and enabled by open government. If we think about how the fundamental democratic principles established centuries ago extend today purely […]

Cameras in the courtroom: Will SCOTUS ever go live online?

In an age where setting up a livestream to the Web and the rest of the networked world is as easy as holding up a smartphone and making a few taps, the United States Supreme Court appears more uniformly opposed to adding cameras in the courtroom than ever.

Samantha Power: OGP is President Obama’s signature governance initiative

On January 10th, 2013, the OpenGov Hub officially launched in Washington, DC. The OpenGov Hub has similarities to incubators and accelerators, in terms of physically housing different organizations in one location, but focuses on scaling open government and building community, as opposed to scaling a startup and building a business. Samantha Power, special assistant to […]

Civic app for finding flu shots goes viral

The 2012-2013 influenza season has been a bad one, with flu reaching epidemic levels in the United States.

Open Government Partnership hosts regional meeting in Chile

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) has released statistics on its first 16 months since its historic launch in New York City, collected together in the infographic embedded below. This week, Open government leaders are meeting in Chile to discuss the formal addition of Argentina to the partnership and the national plans that Latin American countries […]

African News Challenge funds data journalism and open government tech

The post-industrial future of journalism is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet. The same trends changing journalism and society have the potential to create significant social change throughout the African continent, as states moves from conditions of information scarcity to abundance. That reality was clear on my recent trip to Africa, where I […]

Election 2012: A #SocialElection Driven By The Data

Social media was a bigger part of the election season of 2012 than ever before, from the enormous volume of Facebook updates and tweets to memes during the Presidential debates to public awareness of what the campaigns were doing there in popular culture. Facebook may even have booted President Obama’s vote tally.

PollWatchUSA enables anyone with a smartphone to act as a poll monitor

Pollwatch, a mobile application that enabled crowdsourced poll monitoring, has launched a final version at, just in time for Election Day 2012. The initial iteration of the app was conceived, developed and demonstrated at the hackathon at the 2012 Personal Democracy Forum in New York City.


Follow GovFresh