The time has long passed when Web 2.0 was considered just a fad for Generation Y. Web 2.0 is now a key issue for politicians, government policy makers and mainstream IT strategists.
There was once a time when it was socially acceptable to admit “I’m not an IT person, because I don’t know how to program the VCR”. These views are very much outdated, and now consigned to the same dark cupboard as the unused VCR.
Web 2.0 is already changing the way we think about government consultation. Kevin Rudd’s Twitter site now has 411 000 followers.
“Just did Nepean Hospital Forum in western syd. Huge hospital. Growing community to serve there”, remarks the Prime Minister. The message is neither polished nor stage managed. That’s the attraction. Readers appear to be flocking to social networking sites to have direct contact with high profile individuals, free from hype.
Social networking also provides new ways for citizens to dig deeper into topical issues. In the past, speeches from government ministers would be built around short grabs aimed at the evening news or morning papers. Now YouTube enables the whole speech to be viewed, analysed and replayed. Kevin Rudd’s speech announcing the recent KevinPM website received 33 000 hits with 120 comments. A more recent YouTube video from the government, making fun of the Opposition Leader’s climate policy, received 3 500 hits and 47 comments.
The political value of social networking is clear, but what about the day to day running of government?
A recent press release, from Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner, called for public comment for the Government 2.0 Taskforce. Questions being canvassed include:
- · How can government build a culture that favours the disclosure of public sector information?
- · What government information should be more freely available and what might be made of it?
- · What are the major obstacles to fostering a culture of online engagement within government and how can they be tackled?
- · How can government capture the imagination of citizens to encourage participation in policy development and collaboration between citizens and government?
Government 2.0 presents some major challenges for government agencies in opening up the policy development process. Feedback comes in real time and not all feedback will be positive. However it does provide government with a practical way to reach out more broadly for grass roots consultation with citizens.
Next week the medium will report on possible directions for Government 2.0 both within Australia and overseas.