Gov 2.0 Excitement at a Peak?
BY Matthew Burton | Thursday, September 24 2009
You could be excused for being a bit exasperated by all the Gov2.0 news from the last few months. Those behind it deserve credit for generating so much attention for a topic as wonkish as government IT. But, phew: it's been overwhelming. Gartner's Andrea DiMaio explains:
Barcamps and govcamps are now happening around the world, from Canada to the US, from Germany to the North East of Italy to the UK. More and more governments state that opening government data is their priority, from the U.S: to the UK, from Australia to Belgium. Application contests (or mashup or idea contests) to engage citizen developers in creating new and valuable applications that leverage government data pop up from Belfast to Washington, from London to Brussels, from New York to the Flanders.
So far this year, at least seven new conferences have sprouted up to promote government technology, and that's just in the U.S.:
- Government2.0 Camp
- Social Media for DoD & Government
- Participation Camp
- Open Government & Innovations Conference
- The Potomac Forum Gov 2.0 Best Practices Symposium
- O'Reilly's Gov 2.0 Summit and Expo
DiMaio thinks the excitement has reached its peak, and that we should prepare for a downturn:
If one looks at what is going on around government 2.0 these days, there are all the symptoms of a slightly (or probably massively) overhyped phenomenon. Those that were just early pilots one or two years ago, are becoming the norm. New ideas and strategies that were been developed by few innovators in government are now being copied pretty much everywhere.
This is not to say these projects will be total failures; just that we will soon run into the realization that it's going to be harder than we expected. In particular, DiMaio says that unless government employees soon become engaged in these projects, they will not succeed:
It is time to take government 2.0 out of the hands of elected or appointed high-profile officials, and turn it into a toolset that potentially any government employee could leverage in his or her own domain of activity or expertise. The fact that it will precipitously fall from the peak of inflated expectations to the trough of disillusionment may not be a bad thing at all: only when it will catch fewer headlines and will gradually disappear from politicians’ speeches, it will start to deliver real value.
I think she is spot-on. Community development projects like DC's Apps for Democracy, NYC's BigApps and the Intelligence Community's A-Space need to engage the people they are working for--their users--if they are to bear any fruit. Otherwise, they will just be a more interesting and frugal way of procuring the same technology.