Crossing Over Technology With Government

In recent months, I’ve made a small fuss over the so called Government 2.0 experts descending on Washington expecting to change the way of life in government. Of course, I’ve been also called out for not providing actual solutions. Probably rightly so, but understand that I don’t work in the government space. I am simply an outside observer who approaches problems with some degree of sobriety and realism.

Today, I figure I’ll offer some ideas that can move the conversation forward in some kind of constructive way. Wired’s Noah Shachtman covered a white paper released from the National Defense University that approaches Government 2.0 from the perspective of information sharing. While that is indeed a portion of the solution to the greater problem, the military in particular, probably needs to look at broader solutions (and more specific, less 50,000 foot view), as a more effective technology complement to their Mission.

For instance, while simple communication across the various branches of the service is useful for any enterprise, it would pay to address the core war-fighting mission of the military. For instance, a less than 50,000 foot view that suggests “information sharing”, might propose use of mobile devices that utilize GPS information for tactical war-theatre decision making.

Real-time use of video and photography immediately makes data available to analysts requiring split second decisions (such as the split second decision making by the Navy Captain responsible for ordering the sniper takedown of the Somali pirates this weekend).

It is not useful to simply put out generic information about “information sharing” and suggest blogs, wikis and the like are the solution to the problem. While I understand whitepapers are intended to provide a skeletal framework for further action, it is condescending to organizations who already value and understand the need for “information sharing”. What they are looking for is the “hows” and “whats” to achieve their mission.

As stated in previous articles, this is where the “experts” should be focusing. Realistically, those activities will be classified and not published for public consumption. That’s probably the way it should be. The real experts are working internally, inside their organizations, with their constituency – not in the public forum where context and value are lost.

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

75 thoughts on “Crossing Over Technology With Government”

  1. Finally someone says it – I’ve been waiting for comments to come out on Gov. 2.0 that aren’t fueled by Jim Jones’ Sharkleberry Kool-Aid. But as you said, “The real experts are working internally, inside their organizations, with their constituency – not in the public forum where context and value are lost.”

    1. DARPA and IARPA and other U.S. government agencies are doing wonderful things, as I indicated last fall in my piece at http://ariwriter.com/2008/08/networking-with-military/ – but it’s important, writing this as a taxpayer and voter, to not leave agencies to do blah blah in the dark. The more I can read about and/or participate in the creation of (and I don’t mean with reading white papers or on external websites), the more faith I have in my money and votes going where it counts.

  2. I’m personally looking at this whole aspect from a few separate directions from both an internal and external perspective.
    1) Database/API methodology standards. Programmers should be able to know how to be able to get to data permitted under the law/security clearance.
    2) Discoverablility of data sets and Gov communications. Basically, data and gov info streams are available, but mostly if you go out and search for it. John Q. Public is typically not looking for such a thing, but may be interested if such a thing pops up.
    3) Less preachy and more conversational. Let’s work on reducing the “Big Brother” image. With publicly available data sets, it should also be in a form that is machine readable. XML standards perhaps? This will enable John Geeky Public to do some clever mashups with the data sets and maybe enhance the views of the Gov. Since in this case, conversation is key, gov would have the opportunity to leverage the work done by private individuals and other interested parties with potential incentives for doing so.

    Just some thoughts…

      1. Perhaps you missed the bit here I said “be able to get to data permitted under the law/security clearance”? However, standardized methodologies of sharing data within a restricted (not open to John Q. Public) APIs (which would resemble the open APIs in many respects). Has a benefit to the contractor in charge of programming the systems that mashup that private data.

        The paradigm of APIs and data sets equating “The enemy will now what we’re doing” is a false choice, since even many API sets do require authentication of some sorts and require approval. And that’s assuming that they’re available on the public intertubes rather than on the restricted network, but even bringing the mashup idea to gov thinking might not be a bad thing, even if it’s within their, understandable, walled garden.

        1. I guess my point is, how do we know that APIs don’t exist internally? NMCI, for instance, which was and is failed/flawed in many ways, required systems to interoperate which suggests these APIs exist or are being created. Just because we don’t know about them on the outside doesn’t mean they don’t exist on the inside. The value add to DoD, in this case, doesn’t exist to make sure we as the public know about it. In fact, it could present a honeypot to cyberterror.

          1. I’m sure that they do exist, but there isn’t a common set of standards and are often proprietary to the developers who wrote the code if the other agencies are any clue. It’s the whole “radios don’t work across departments sort of thing”.

  3. This says a lot: “It is not useful to simply put out generic information about “information sharing” and suggest blogs, wikis and the like are the solution to the problem.”

    All the focus seems to be on public-facing initiatives that make data available and transparent, or on information-sharing within agencies.

    This is all great, but I feel that what’s missing is internal transparent and collaborative processes. Information and data sharing can help inform better decisions, but how are those decisions being made? How is information filtered? How is it prioritized? How are alternatives evaluated? Do we really know why decisions are made? Why was project X funded, but not project Y?

    We need to ask why decision-making is often still a “behind closed doors” process.

    1. Because CRS reports aren’t publicly available. And because most markups aren’t webcast live, nor are transcripts made available, nor are conference committees open to the public OR the press.

      But you can pay CQ $2,000+ per year for them.

  4. Some also don’t seem to realize that there is greater transparency and citizen empowerment, and there’s giving the impression of greater transparency and empowerment. Much of what the “experts” portray as #Gov20 is really just superficial gimmickry that will provide the perception of more access, while really either not providing any, or in some cases, providing less.

    An example – the President bypasses the media to take questions “directly from citizens” on YouTube. Sounds cool – however, the Administration is held more accountable by a dozen reporters, as disconnected as they may be, asking questions that aren’t prevetted, than they are being able to cherry pick only the questions you want out of a pool of thousands.

    As I’ve said before, no matter what #Gov2.0 brings, you’re not going to learn who really killed Kennedy through a Tweet any time soon no matter what some think.

  5. Ahhh the thing that bugs me most about the type of stuff Justin just mentioned in his 2nd paragraph is that going directly to the citizens is Congress’s job! Where the heck are they? The executive branch (GSA, White House, EPA, Army – where my job lies – State, etc) keeps getting highlighted for their Gov2.0 (or lack thereof) work. Where is the pressure on the legislative branch? It’d be easier on Congress to focus on their one jurisdiction than Obama to try to listen to the whole country anyway.

    However, I think we need to start teaching the government how to effectively use any new tool (including social Web tools) somewhere. So if a white paper from somewhere pretty high-up in the hierarchy is the way to get the ball rolling, so be it.

    1. Emma, once again I think it comes down to perception. The executive branch is perceived as having all the secrets – which much of is due to the fact that people just don’t understand the nature of the work and draw their own conclusions.

      Legislative branch workers have their town hall meetings, their debates, their daily clips in news and radio holding babies, sitting down with retirees discussing Medicare, etc. Constituents may not actually know or understand how their decisions are made, who they are meeting with, why some compromises or parliamentary procedures are played out – but as long as the perception of that openness is there, there are other black boxes that must be pried open (Executive branch)

  6. Interesting article.
    1.The paper is called “Social Software and National Security”

    2. It’s a research report, not a white paper.

    3. I wrote the paper.

    4. Few if any of the people writing above this comment have actually seen the paper.

    5. There is more to Government 2.0 than social software.

    5. National Defense University’s mission is to conduct research, education, and outreach on strategy – we get paid to think about the “50,000 foot level” for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    6. Theatre warfare tactics and many other topics are generally not in our domain, but we’re working with other people whose job it is to guide them with operational and tactical concerns beneath the beginnings of a strategy we’ve been thinking about.

    7. Most information is not secret, even at the Department of Defense.

    8. There are a tremendous number of social software applications in national security writ large (defense, diplomacy, and development) including contracting, human resources, networking warfighters’ families, public diplomacy, and empowering people in war-torn areas.

    9. The paper will have some applications beyond national security, to other parts of federal and other government entities.
    10. Some concepts in the paper, particularly discussion of indirect influence in public affairs, and return-on-engagement versus return-on-investment, will be applicable – at least for discussion – to the private sector.

    1. Certainly can’t wait to see the report. Clearly, the only thing I have to operate on is what the Wired story covered.

      Also, though it’s public knowledge that I don’t like you, I attempted not to single you out as that is not the point of the post. More, I want to accentuate the importance of effective approach to Gov 2.0, not simply the spitball approach I see commonly.

  7. Aaron –

    It’s so hard to dislike someone you don’t really know; Why do you work at it so hard?

    Let me give you some perspective on the to-be-published research report. It’s over 15,000 words. Most people have only read 200.

    Mark

  8. WWGD? What Would Government Do – much good – Gov 2.0, Web 2.0 – now lets think Web and Gov 3.0… as our population matures, along with the technology, the game playing youth of today will be the policy leaders tomorrow. Instant messaging is already being uses for targeting in the real world – watch kids play multiplayer games to see the future. Now enter healthcare and the electronic medical record, telemedicine, larger communications pipes and changes in the ability to process and share information. I don’t know what the future holds but 10 years….20 years from now…. it will be amazing and powerful (booming voice from behind the curtain). Great stuff all with your comments.
    Dan

  9. I know Aaron is not directing this post to me, but it struck a cord with me. I am not trying to defend myself or toot my own horn. Rather reassure Aaron’s readers the “how” and “what” is being addressed, without going into details.

    Mark didn’t include me when it came to sharing the first page of his report. I knew he wrote it because a colleague was sent a copy of the synopsis and suggested I reach out to Mark to let him know what I was working on and for whom. I did, but he did not share it because he wanted more information from me. I didn’t feel the need to pursue because I am confident in my work. It is public knowledge that I have been working this field for significantly longer time than many of these very vocal , have also written several papers on my work, teach and discuss social software vs. the enterprise (for national security or otherwise).

    Not having read the report, I am confident there will be little new brought to light. I am not being conceded when I state this, it is because I have been working with and beyond the organizations that Mark has and for longer.

    I don’t go looking for publicity or try to bombard my followers or blog readers with my thoughts. I don’t claim to be an expert. And I don’t go seeking to publish my “Solutions” or “Reports”. But I am confident that my reach and my experience are where it counts, behind the firewall. I am also energized because I know there are others with the drive like me, inside the firewall who are pushing for collaboration and change from old bureaucratic ways.

    I briefly touched on this last night (during #gov20 blogtalkradio) as I think the focus has long been distorted in the press and blogs that social media is as what the Government needs for transparency. That is a very small part of the picture. The big picture is the internal collaboration and information sharing, that is beginning to resonate throughout. I think organizations in the Federal Government need to focus more on the “Enterprise 2.0″ and less on their Facebook pages.

    On January 21st, the Director of National Intelligence issued Intelligence Community Directive 501, which is about “DISCOVERY AND DISSEMINATION OR RETRIEVAL OF INFORMATION WITHIN THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY”. This directive is a step in the right direction for the Top Cover, most Government organizations need to get their middle and upper management on board. Worker bees, especially those who have been hired post 9-11 understand this need to work more collaboratively, inside and outside of the Intelligence Community. The technology is finally is finally catching up with the direction Federal Government is going. The culture shift is also underway.

    1. With contributions like yours, Andrea, it makes it a little easier today for people to distinguish between the actual work and “Pop Gov 2.0″ I look forward to hearing more of your ideas outside of the limelight, where it counts.

  10. I noticed some typos in my long rant. Please forgive me, for the double “is finally” in the last paragraph and for not finishing the thought of the very vocal public relations evangelists in the second. I am not slighting anyone for their work. All work moves the culture change forward. But its more of a battle when I am dealing with my clients who are talking about wanting a Facebook page when there is very little the general public cares to know about their program. Not to mention the little value it has to the end mission.

  11. @Andrea

    Cry me a river. As part of an internal review process, I shared the report with about 20 government employees with a variety of expertise. There are many people it was not shared with, for numerous reasons.

    You claim there will be nothing ‘new’ in the report. But the report is not written for you, or Aaron, or probably most anyone who knows what Web 2.0 is. And it’s not about inventing some new technology as if we’re a bunch of computer engineers writing code. It’s policy research designed to educate a generation of leaders about a rapidly changing area of technology.

    I had an interesting conversation with a three-star once, not long ago. They said to me, hey, there’s an entry in Wikipedia about me. How did it get there? When I explained how Wikipedia worked, they asked, why would someone write an entry about me?

    That’s my audience, that’s who National Defense University serves, and that’s who the paper is mainly written for. There is a delusion among the Government 2.0 crowd that everyone’s learning Web 2.0, experimenting with social software and information sharing, and getting on board with this whole movement. It’s really not true, at least not yet.

  12. @Mark,

    Unlike Aaron, I *do* happen to like you and think you’re a pleasant guy who does interesting work. Based on our interactions, I don’t have any reason to dislike you, and I doubt you’ll give me reason to in the future.

    But I have to agree with Andrea and Aaron that like it or not, you’ve become the outward-looking “face” of Government 2.0. And while I have zero doubts that your scholarship is beyond reproach, I think it’s a bit disingenuous of you to take umbrage at Andrea’s remarks when you have, in the time I’ve known you, created what some would call a “personality cult” around yourself.

    You write these papers that you share with “about 20 government employees…”

    …and a Wired reporter.

    You guest posted multiple times at Mashable, have used your notoriety to start your own blog and get writing gigs at a new online pub.

    You’ve used your academic credentials and your NDU work to make a name for yourself in the social media space and promote yourself relentlessly at every opportunity.

    And while I don’t have a problem with entrepreneurial spirit or self-promotion, I can see why others might be irked by some of it when you repeat ad infinitum that you’re not an expert, only a researcher — but you take every opportunity to leverage what notoriety you have to gain more followers, more readers, and whether you like it or not, de facto “expert” stature.

    You’ve made yourself a public figure. You’ve used Dr. Mark D. Drapeau to create and promote @Cheeky_Geeky. And you’ve never — to my knowledge, made any effort to separate Dr. Mark D. Drapeau from @Cheeky_Geeky.

    You’ve created the identity. Now you have to live up to it.

  13. @Andrew

    I live up to ‘cheeky geeky’ every day. Check out “followfriday AND cheeky_geeky” every single Friday. I offer a lot of interesting and valuable info to many people every single day through a variety of channels.

    What I don’t like about this general discussion thread is the implication that people who are more public about what they’re doing in this space are somehow ‘worse’ than people who are doing good things privately. It’s just not true. There are people doing a great job at all sorts of things public and private. Everyone has a niche and should be happy with the one they’re in, or change. My niche as an academic researcher is to figure things out and then write or teach about it. Writing – communication of ideas – is my job.

    We had a process for sharing the DOD paper. Initially it was sent for review to a modest number of people, and we revised it, and very very recently we have shared it with more and more people that have an interest in the material, including a few people in the media (and we are talking about like, five that we know personally). So what? It’s an unpublished paper, we have a strategy for getting the word out there, and we’re executing it. And it will be completely public very soon, distribution unlimited.

    I really don’t promote myself relentlessly – there are so many others who try so much harder to do so. I’m not hawking products, or consulting services, or driving traffic to my website where I’ve got ads. And I’ve never gotten paid to write for Mashable, TechPresident, ReadWriteWeb, PBS, Federal Computer Week – nothing. I consider it service to the country and part of the scope of my job within the academic community. Nothing wrong with getting paid to do these things, and I know people who do, but it’s a little silly to call me a self-promoter for writing great stuff, attending events, and tweeting a lot.

    From a flat start 2.5 years ago when I left academic science to work in government for a while, I have made a name for myself at DOD and within USG because I write good stuff and have smart thoughts at internal meetings and conferences, not because I’m popular on Twitter (which I’ve only been on a year); the public blogging is only a moderate part of the work I do (which also includes working on counterinsurgency and influenza, among other topics). I have a following in the social media community because I write good stuff for good publications that people talk about, not because I am funny or attended Twin Tech II or have a hot personal brand. I get opportunities to speak on panels not because I go to happy hours a lot, but because I have a real depth of knowledge about a lot of topics – including animal behavior, which my PhD is in – that goes back over 10 years of publishing scientific articles, book reviews, opinion pieces, op-eds in newspapers and on and on – all before “cheeky geeky” (http://www.markdrapeau.com/publications/). I gave an invited lecture about my animal behavior research at the University of Chicago in 1997 – when I was an undergrad. I’ve published in the best peer-reviewed scientific journals in the world, Science and Nature.

    This notion floating out there that a few blog posts at Mashable and some silly tweets resulted in a column at True/Slant or a research fellowship or a speaker slot is just ridiculous – everything certainly helps, but one really needs to look at the whole person. Few do.

  14. @Andrea,

    You stole a blog post from me. After Gov 2.0 Camp I’ve been a bit disturbed by the turn the the conversation about Gov 2.0 camp has taken. I think a lot of folks, Mark included, have completely missed the bus and are focusing on the wrong things. It’s good see that the real professionals are in there working hard instead of seeking publicity.

    1. @Henri, what blog post did I steal from you? Are you kidding around because my reply was like a post in of itself? Or are you serious? Please clarify. I don’t want to look like I steal people’s ideas, I give credit where due. I also mentioned this in my Government 2.0 Reprise post on my blog.

      1. @Andrea,

        I meant it as that your comment reflected a blog post that was brewing in my head late last night after reading about another blog post about the greatness of gov20+twitter+facebook. I did not mean to imply that you plagiarized anything that I wrote, especially since I haven’t written anything since SxSW

        @Aaron, I would agree that post is not about Mark nor should it be about him. Instead, we need to focus on how to rid the movement of the faux and pretend experts. The idea of efficient government through the use of technology is hard enough to sale to upper management (not including the archaic rules and laws that have to be dealt with) as is. Letting faux experts gain public attention, while it may temporarily boost their image and that of the movement, will end up discrediting it in the long run.

  15. @Henri, @Andrew and @Andrea,

    As someone who, like most of us, has actually worked on these issues in the field, I have always been alternatively amused or annoyed at the level of self-promotional exploitation that some of the so-called Gov 2.0 ‘needle movers’ and ‘leaders’ have employed. Though like @Andrew, I figured that some salesmanship never hurted anything too much, and trying to make a name for yourself in these times isn’t all that bad.

    As has been increasingly discussed, however, in order for the government to effectively harness new technologies for greater efficiency, and sometimes transparency where appropriate, the “Gov. 2.0 movement” needs to first take a look at itself and how it is presenting itself to the people it is trying to educate.

    The answer that I have come to for myself is that the direction Pop Gov. 2.0 has moved in is actually completely counter-productive to achieving the goals it claims to pursue, and instead is geared towards gaining notoriety for individuals who hope to turn their ‘expert’ status into consultant jobs to work with a) people who are in government but have no knowledge of technology, or b) work in technology but have no knowledge how the government works.

    As someone who plans to continue my career in the field, the debate becomes less for me the dramatic sport it is for some on Twitter, and more a personal effort to maintain integrity in the profession.

    I look forward the day soon when people who do or have done this work in the government don’t have to cringe as much when seeing Gov 2.0 referenced.

  16. I’m not going to moderate comments or take other actions, but I do want to gently remind readers that this post is not about Mark and although he does, rightly so I believe, attract a lot of ire, focusing on his work or personality loses the greater point of the post.

    1. I work as a contractor for the DoD, and did in fact read Mark and Dr. Well’s report (in fact I was involved in the process that helped get it released). I do work mostly on the inside doing emerging tech and social software type stuff for the DoD. Just a couple of thoughts on the issue w/Mark and then on the larger point.

      Regarding discussions of Mark’s personal branding approach, I really have no comment on that, nor do I care. Regarding the actual paper in question, I found it incredibly useful and an important topic to boot. There are tons of issues surrounding the use of Web 2.0 technologies in DoD and their national security implications. In fact I immediately got on the phone to talk with Mark about issues I wanted to see included but weren’t. I know someone else who did a similar thing, and came up with some very important additional issues based on reading the report. As a consequence, a whole thread of conversations with the OpenID folks over identity management and privacy impacts has ensued as a direct result of a number of us reading that paper. So whether or not you find it revolutionary or missing the ball entirely when it finally comes out, it has already served a very valuable purpose – it has prompted in-depth thought and conversation and has moved the ball forward on solutions.

      Regarding the larger point of whether those who talk in public have a clue what they’re talking about, I just don’ t get the blanket statement. Take a previous comment made above – Why does DoD need to share information with the public? As a for instance, part of the public is the industrial base. Do we only want to connect to those who are already on the inside (Prime contractors, and the rest of the usual suspects), or do we think its critical to start connecting with the rest of the emerging technology innovation happening in bunches of technology fields critical for effective net-centric operations? Lots of truly terrific ideas and innovations reside in very small companies who have absolutely no relationship with DoD – how do we start connecting with them?

      Bottom line, most of these innovative companies cannot get through the front door. In fact, another NDU research report highlighted this fact (titled Information Technology Program, 2006). That report resulted in Section 881 of the NDAA, and ultimately was one of the initiating actions started the process that led to the current effort called DoDTechipedia (which includes an external wiki-based approach to connect govt and industry folks in discussing the state of the practice in key technology areas).

      I don’t want this to be a defense of Mark or others, but personally, I find it useful to know I can go to someone who can speak to the larger tech community about these issues in a public way – that I and many others can feed people like Mark issues to be raised. But the larger point is whether or not someone is publicly commenting on something doesn’t really tell you anything about their relative sophistication. They may very well be clueless, as I think you’re suggesting, or very often, they may be very knowledgeable. So regarding the larger point of the post, the fact that part of their focus involves public discussion doesn’t mean they’re clueless by default. They may in fact be a very useful part of a longer communication chain.

          1. You’re free to participate. Mark probably needs help. But… expect to be called out. I do feel like your response is disingenuous by the gooey feeling instinctive measure.

          2. Gooey feeling instinctive measure? Don’t have a clue what that means, but I’m guessing its supposed to be a non-specific, ill-defined put down of some kind. Feel free to call out whomever you like, apparently on whatever basis pleases you. My apologies for imagining that your post was intended to be for dialogue. If you already are positive you have the only answer that matters, why bother allowing comments for the post? That in itself leads to misunderstandings. Ah well, ten minutes of my life gone – I’ll live.

          3. It seems like you’re implying that I somehow put Noel up to writing what he did. Not true. He’s a hard working guy who wanted to join a discussion about something he’s passionate about, that’s all. And he got “I smell fish.” Wonder if he has a postitive or negative view of this blog now?

          4. Sigh. Another day, eh?

            Mark, I don’t operate under the premise of whether people like me or not, or whether they like this blog or not. This is not a game. Government 2.0 is not a game. If, and only if, the bullshit being espoused by most of the “experts” takes hold in the government, I fear it will do more harm than good. And we all know that things that take hold in government rarely go away. So… this is not a game. I am not trying to win a popularity contest, unlike you. I could care less.

  17. @Mark,

    With all due respect, I’ve read your CV. You’ve accomplished quite a lot. More than me. By far. But please — don’t tell me I don’t know the difference between your accomplishments in academia and “everything else.”

    You have a “hot personal brand” because you do go to happy hours a lot, because you are, in fact, funny, and because you guest posted on RWW and Mashable — which cater not to the inside-baseball Government community, but to the Web 2.0 audience in general. If you expect me to think you got that True/Slant gig because of an paper in Nature and some op-eds on animal behavior, well, you’re underestimating my intelligence.

    True/Slant capitalizes on your popularity to get readers. It’s part of the “experiment” of the site — the writers have personal brands. And your site at http://markdrapeau.com (designed by Peter Corbett, a nice guy but hardly one to shy away from publicity) is called “Cheeky Fresh,” hardly a nod to Dr. Mark D. Drapeau, the academic.

    Face it — you have a following in the social media community because you have a hot personal brand. You have a hot personal brand because you write good stuff for publications that people talk about, AND because you’re funny and you go to Twin Tech II and because you were in that tasteless Washingtonian piece.

    You get opportunities to speak on some (not all) panels because you have a following in the social media community. And for the most part, you’ve built that following yourself, outside of your (very respectable) academic work.

    And it’s paid off. Because you no longer have to self-promote. You’re on everyone’s #followfriday.

    But you’re last #followfriday? A fake version of yourself.

    You’re a respectable academic AND a popular social media figure. Probably much more popular, respectable, and interesting than I’ll ever be. But don’t claim it’s the culmination of your entire career. It’s not. It’s a separate career than the one you’ve been on — one you’ve built both on your own (by networking face to face, as you did when we met at the Scoble DC party last summer) and by getting gigs writing on popular sites, paid or not.

    You created a personality for yourself. You, for better or worse, have become the face of Government 2.0, and as such, can’t take posts like Aaron’s personally. He makes valid points. And you — not him — were the one who started this discussion, which if no one has anything else to add, I will let return to its regularly scheduled program.

    and P.S. I’d love to know what other reporters you know personally you leaked the paper to — probably ones that could get the most publicity, right?

  18. Just for giggles:

    I stumbled upon Mark and Andrea (just picking them out of the millions of government-related workers who are doing vaguely social stuff…and who happened to comment here) on Twitter about the same time. I’ve met and interacted with them both in person and have brainstormed ideas with both of them – as well as a lot of other Gov2.0 nerds.

    First of all, I very much appreciated both of their ability to treat me – the bottom of the totem pole – as an adult with good ideas. Second of all, I loved both of their ideas and have learned from both. From Mark, it was that

    THIRD – there seems to be a bigger problem here. And that is that no one really understands every GS employee, servicemember and contractor’s job in the government. No one can really ever hope to understand. And we all know about those stereotype information, “no”-stamping government employees. And we all know about those hardworking, hilariously outgoing people like us, who love to comment on blogs and write our opinions.

    And we’re all doing good things and we all have to follow our own hierarchies, our own organization’s missions, and our own personal convictions.

    Deal with it and build each other up instead of letting The Man and conflict get us down ;)

  19. Just to go back to what Mark was saying (and I didn’t want to address — I took some time to think about my response if I did reply, so here is goes]

    I was not crying in my soup that I was not included on Mark’s distro. I think its funny that he was building this paper in a nontransparent way. I know who his audience is, I deal with the same people in my audience. In fact, I have an much larger internal audience. Therefore, I can see broadly who is doing what and writing what. If Mark was more transparent in his information sharing and research, he would see that there are several other efforts by other military and DoD organization which are posted behind our firewall. These people reach out to not just me, but to the whole community when they share what they are working on and put it out on our internal Enterprise 2.0 platform.

    Bottom line, I think Mark has written something that will probably bring a lot of attention, however, he could have collaborated with the many others who have information written already and published.

    Now on to Pop Gov 2.0 (I love this term). This trend has made the efforts of internal collaboration, transparency, and adoption of new business practices more difficult in bridging the cultural and linguistic changes the Government are facing internally. When someone who is like Mark (not just him, but there are others), who are technologists or social media experts glomming on this trend in efforts to make a buck tell them they need a twitter account, a facebook fan page, linkedin group… well that’s great. But its not the solution. Sure it covers their branding, but they are not focusing on the real issues. The Government is already a strong brand. But now they are distributing the noise in more places than they can manage.

    Every Government entity has its own web domain, in which, they can web 2.0 it up in anyway they want. They should have a blog for transparency and questions, they should have a link to delicious or whatever for social bookmarking…

    But really, I want to get to the root of the problem. Internal facing problems. The capturing of the tacit knowledge of the aging workforce. Most Government employees are at or beyond retirement age and when they retire, sometimes the job just goes away because the knowledge went out the door. Is that saying that the job wasn’t critical? No, I know plenty of retirees where the position was of great value. But if no one knows how to do that job, there is nothing that can be done.

    This is why we must think of how do we prevent this from happening in the future. We must work with our Government to change existing business processes, work at the broadest level, collaborate, mentor, and knock down the internal walls of Agency and Government brands.

    1. Just a brief note on your second paragraph, papers of the sort Mark wrote need to get OPSEC “release” by the DoD prior to being put in the public domain. So it is non-transparent by default, but the rationale for this is probably a larger open government discussion, vice a decision by the authors of this particular paper. It would be great to open a lot more of those processes up to a wider audience – that’s sort of the thought behind the whole open govt effort. Would be nice to see us get there in the next few years.

        1. You’re confusing different things. I have no idea what Jill or Wired saw. I was only commenting on the release of the paper itself, not on any of those viewing the paper.

          1. I’m not confusing anything. I agree that an internal, and potentially sensitive (if not classified) document would need OPSEC approval for dissemination to the public. If this document was released, then why have only a few people seen it? Please email it to me at aaron [at] technosailor [dot] com if it is available for public partaking. If not… then how come Jill has it? I can understand Wired, but not Jill (with fairness to her as someone I know and respect, she is not a media organization).

          2. The paper is cleared for release but we have not yet publicly released it on our website nor in print (we will, soon). The authors sent the paper to Jill and some other diverse people to get feedback on specific sections and topics and so forth. We have generally asked people outside the government not to distribute the paper. There is a process, we know what we’re doing, and the paper will be widely available soon.

      1. True on the releaseability, but not on the internal wiki or blogs Mark or any federal employee has access too. This is where I am talking about internal collaboration and transparency. I am not asking him nor anyone to post their white papers or reports on the web without going through proper channels. I am simply asking, why not open a report or project or even the thought of an idea out to the internal community to see where there is a need or a track of an idea or effort. I am all about Collaboration and reduction of duplicative processes.

        Additionally, I don’t know Mark or your situation, other than my own when it comes to dealing with publishing online content on the internet. I know that if I publish content on my website, speak at an event on the behalf of Government, I have to go through a Publications review board and or Office of Public Affairs.

        1. Hi Andrea, agreed that more internal collaboration is generally going to result in a better product. More informal communication across organizational lines is definitely where we need to be.

  20. Getting back to the Govt 2.0 thing (as interesting as it is to watch all the Intelligentsia have at it). I quite literally just got off the phone with an old friend who is a senior member of SAIC out in CO who oversees a few $100mm+ projects for DHS (Homeland Security) He’s quite frank on the new push for Govt 2.0 thinking where the rubber meets the road in Wash. Bottom line: There is so much inertia in the apparatus that is govt (even in a baby like DHS) that they go so far as to take an almost official 2 yr wait and see stance on Sec. Napolitano and anyone else in the dept who is a pol before they will do anything she says (or at least stop fighting her on it) This may sound like hogwash – I mean, she issues an edict and it gets done, right? – but the ability of ingrained behaviors to continue on their stodgy path is remarkable.

    All new initiatives are thwarted by the apparatchiks and much less gets done than we really think. news is driven by speeches not grunt level results and victories. So, as much as we love to read well done research by mark (when we are afforded such luxuries) as well as great thought pieces such as this post – the real mission is to see if anyone can conquer the problem that is bureaucracy. Talk about your mountains to climb.

    1. Totally not hogwash. It is the “established” government that I’ve referred to at work. The current trend is to latch onto the “elected” government as if they actually run things. Your friend at SAIC and his clients at DHS are the footsoldiers in the etablishment, so I tend to soberly agree with his summation.

      1. Imagine the power in the solution that overcomes this issue. I don’t pretend, for a minute, to know the answer. Even as a pseudo-govt employee (Army Officer for 10 years) I was a part of that “molassas in January” establishment. We tend to forget what it’s like when we are living in the fast-paced world of startups and tech.

      2. Gov 2.0 is just the “new” buzzword just like program management was hot several years ago. Its just another trend for the beltway bandits to come in and “solve”. You would think leadership would quit being duped by the latest bauble but they never learn.

  21. Just so we’re clear on rules and media. The paper in question was reviewed inside DOD and cleared for public release in principle. New developments and information, and some further research made us continue to work on it, and during this process we allowed some other people to read it to get feedback. Still cleared for release, we have allowed some media to read the paper during the past week while doing copyediting for final publication.

    Everyone should also realize that this paper has a very experienced and distinguished co-author, who by far outworks, outclasses, and outsmarts everyone commenting here, including me. Here is a nice story on the paper that came out late this afternoon on NextGov (he is interviewed): http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20090415_8127.php

    1. All the same, I’d like to see it and validate your claims. It’s what a good journalist does and it gives the opportunity to have a little fairness here. If it was cleared elsewhere, then I can see it too and I promise to give you and your co-author (previously unmentioned anywhere) a fair look.

  22. I want to make a comment on Mark’s paper as someone who has indeed read all 15,000 or so words. First though, I don’t know Mark. I met him for 2 minutes at the Gov 2.0 conference. He doesn’t follow me on twitter. And in terms of being one of the “lucky few” to read his paper, I just thought the topic sounded interesting so I emailed him to ask for a copy. As I work for the government, I guess I qualified to be a part of his super selective group.

    The paper is not just a recommendation for wikis and blogs as the silver bullet to all government’s problems. The paper lays out a foundation for the types of sharing that our government does today and presents several case studies about how social media has already had a large impact at home and abroad. It lists challenges to using Social Media in the government space and ends with recommendations. It is a research paper and is therefore meant to drive thought, not solve tactical problems (really, who is expecting a paper called Social Software and National Security to solve their day-to-day problems?).

    For those of you familiar with 2.0, you will read a lot of stuff you already know. However, I think it’s placed in an original context that makes you look at our problems from a different angle. The paper probably won’t do much for experts like Andrea (not being facetious), but it will add a great deal of understanding to many that serve Government who don’t know what social media is or how it could possibly matter to national security. And just because your organization is in the social media space doesn’t mean everyone of its employees understands its importance. Many are just jumping on the bandwagon or following orders.

    Lastly, I want to note that Mark isn’t the only author of this paper. He wrote it with Dr. Linton Wells II, who has a long and impressive resume in defense. I would think a former Acting Assistant Secretary and DoD Chief Information Officer knows something about what really matters in the DoD in regards to information sharing. All that to say, I don’t think this paper was just about someone trying to get fame without any consideration for actually adding value to the discussion.

  23. I agree with Dr. D. there are many value-add roles we can all play as experts supporting the government with the information sharing problem that Web 2.0 and Social Media may help to address.

    I’ve been in IT, Information Systems/Information Sharing community for over twenty years and have experience supporting multiple government agencies. Dr. D. is very eloquent and entertaining, but also understands MLM and Social Media. But, who is the expert? The one that can architect/design and implement one of these solutions or the one that understands the concepts and the necessary organizational change management?

    The truth is that both are necessary and if you have someone that can do both, that’s even better! But, in respect to the author that started this dialog it’s time for the rubber to meet the road. Let’s hear more about connecting the 50,000′ view to architectural implementation in complex environments.

  24. I’m trying to figure out how this premise:

    “It is not useful to simply put out generic information about “information sharing” and suggest blogs, wikis and the like are the solution to the problem.”

    has strayed so far from what happened in the comments section.

    Anyway.

    To go back to the original post, it’s clear the 15,000 word version of this paper does not suggest or come to the conclusion outlined by the above premise (nor is it a “Whitepaper”), and we should all wait for the full research paper to be released publicly before commenting on it. It’s dangerous to form an opinion on something before having all the facts or before doing our research.

    (Do I need to remind anyone about the WMDs in Iraq and what that caused? I digress.)

    The only people, it seems to me, who have any useful/knowledgeable opinion in this entire thread that are on topic are Anthony Watkins and Noel Dickover. And of course Mark, but since he’s one of the authors we can assume he’s biased. I look forward to reading the full-length paper.

    1. To go back to the original post, it’s clear the 15,000 word version of this paper does not suggest or come to the conclusion outlined by the above premise

      Forgive me, but how is that clear since no one has ponied up the paper, despite a request to do so. I will agree that until the paper comes to the public eye, we have no idea what’s in it. That doesn’t make it clear in any way at this point.

      1. I figure if two people who have actually read the paper, and the co-author himself, have said or inferred it’s not about wikis/blogs being the solution to problems, then at this point it’s pretty clear to me that that’s not what it’s about. If, when I get to read it, they were all three lying or biased, and your premise is correct, I’ll probably have to change my opinion.

    1. Certainly fair. But why blog about it at this point, then? You should have framed the premise in the conditional tense – *if* the paper is about wikis/blogs soloving government/bureaucracy/DoD problems, then criticism is certainly in order.

      1. The context of comments and the context of the post are different. If you read the post, I covered Wired’s coverage of the article. The comments took a different turn and I allowed them to because the conversation was the one everyone wanted to have. The article stands on it’s own, however, and I never insinuated I read the paper.

        1. But even Noah Shachtman’s post, and the excerpt he includes in the post, say nothing about wikis/blogs being [some] solution to [some] problem. It doesn’t even mention solutions or problems. He merely says it was refreshing to read such a clearly-written research paper, and that it will be available publicly soon.

          I’m trying to figure out where you even got your premise and where your criticism came from. Was it being critical for the sake of being critical?

      2. I think the main draw of this page has been the comments, which while becoming too free-wheeling in their focus at times, have illustrated a larger point which should be clear to anyone who has read them. Aaron has done his best to keep the conversation focused on the topic, but players in the topic could not help but make the commentary about themselves – which conversation then strayed to.

        Until I read the report, which I have no doubt will be elegant and clearly presented, I will have to rely on the Wired review http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/04/wtf-military-we.html, which describes a “Gov 2.0 for Dummies” whose quality is not in its innovation of thought, but in clearly communicating pre-established ideas already common in the community.

        A scholarly contribution, certainly – but in a larger context, not the fodder for which it has been used.

        1. And that being said, call me cynical, but I imagine I won’t be seeing this paper released in the next few days. Considering the critical eye being placed on it and how its being marketed, etc – which should be an expected process for any scholarly paper being self-promoted so strongly – I would think there’s going to be some tweaks in order.

          But this is just based on the regular changes in how its promoted. Just two days ago most people hadn’t even heard there was a co-author, and now that there is some heat not only is there one, but a highly esteemed one that we would be foolish to question. It would be less humorous if it weren’t true.

  25. Perhaps I am being naive here, but why put a paper such as this out for full review, quotation, etc into magazines like Wired and sites like nextgov when we can’t even go to the piece for reference? I mean if it’s weeks or months until the paper is even published then any hype from the article will have died down. Seems to me the point of coverage like theirs is to bring attention to the work, get more people to read (and possibly subscribe to it’s theories, etc.), and so on. What are us laymen supposed to do now, make a mental note to keep checking when the paper is released so we can go back and cross-reference it against the review?

    I fully understand letting a select few preview for purposes of feedback, etc. This I don’t get. Someone enlighten me.

    1. You hit the bulls eye, @Michael. Because the larger issue isn’t the paper – which has been masterfully self-promoted almost to the point of obsoleting the content of the paper itself. An issue amongst other issues, however, is that the discussion of technological innovation in improving the function of government, if you’d like to call it Gov 2.0, has been exploited into a means to self-promote, with the focus on indiviual(s) and their self-proclaimed role as leaders, with actual substance coming a distant second.

      I don’t so much blame the self-promotionalists for this trend. The editors, bloggers and organizers who promote these brands, such as #Goverati, at their events and in their articles because it is a convenient, buzz-worthy shortcut to reporting on what for many is a subtle, complex issue – these are the people I have to wonder what they are doing.

      1. I dunno. This self-promotion you guys seem to have a beef with is sort of misplaced. I think if your leaders have something worthy for the public to read, why not try to spread the word to as many channels as possible, and generate awareness to people who might be interested in reading it? Especially among the web community about which it may concern…

        BTW, it’s available now: http://www.ndu.edu/ctnsp/Defense_Tech_Papers.htm. I’m reading it currently. So far, the 41-page research paper seems to have substance to me, and I don’t think any amount of promotion or teasing, or brief Wired article reaction to it can really claim to have made it obsolete.

  26. WTF – see, I’ve read what has been published regarding the article in question and this observer would like to see these posted comments addressed:
    “Let’s hear more about connecting the 50,000′ view to architectural implementation in complex environments.”

  27. Still waiting for the big, unbiased, critical, journalistic POV on this article: http://www.ndu.edu/ctnsp/Def_Tech/DTP61_SocialSoftwareandNationalSecurity.pdf now that it’s out. Lots of talk prior to publication when barely anyone knew barely anything, claims that it wouldn’t come out anytime soon mere hours before it was posted, and remarkably little intelligent discussion afterwords considering the apparent interest in it. Bottom line? All show, no go from this crew.

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