There is a movement afoot among government employees to use “social media tools and Web 2.0 technologies to create a more effective, efficient and collaborative U.S. government on all levels.” It’s called Government 2.0, and it could end up being very useful for journalists, citizens, and government officials and employees.
Members of this movement held a lively and productive unconference, Government 2.0 camp, in late March in Washington, D.C. The Twitter stream for the hashtags #gov20camp and #gov20 are still going strong.
Personally, I find this movement remarkable and encouraging. One of the great difficulties citizens encounter in learning about or interacting with their government has been the top-down, silo-focused, and generally tight-lipped or obfuscatory approach typical of government communication…
While there is often good reason for government officials to be cautious and circumspect in their communication, not being able to speak plainly, collaborate easily, or respond quickly often frustrates government employees as much as journalists or citizens. Also, as the comments to the field manual for Government 2.0 camp, many government employees also are frustrated with their own access barriers — like not being able to access Facebook from work (even when it’s work-related).
If you cover the government and use online or social media, I’d recommend following this effort and participating in discussions. That’s the best way to make sure that, if this movement gains traction under the Obama Administration and in state and local governments, it will benefit the practice of journalism as well as direct interaction with government. Check out the Government 2.0 Facebook group.
On Twitter, the key Government 2.0 people to follow are Peter Corbett (corbett3000), Mark Drapeau (cheeky_geeky), Maxine Teller (mixtmedia) and EPA director of Web communications Jeffrey Levy (levyj413).
(NOTE: I originally published this article in Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits)