Describing Government 2.0: Alex Howard on Jargon and Communication

Just came across an interesting post by Alex Howard (@digiphile) in which he looks at various definitions and ways of describing Government 2.0. He thinks (and I agree with him) that it’s important to be mindful of your audience.  Jargon isn’t helpful in communicating the ideas behind government 2.0 to those who are not already part of the “goverati.”

Instead of dwelling any further on what Government 2.0 might be or couching discussion or branding in jargon, explain what the technology or platform will do — and what problem it will solve. And at the end of the day, remember that on language, usage drives meaning.

The whole post is worth checking out.  Like Tim O’reilly’s chapter, Government as Platform, there are some good descriptions of both Web 2.0 and Government 2.0. Here are a few snips:

The line I find most compelling in the above explanation for the term is the “attempt to provide more effective processes for government service delivery to individuals and businesses.” If I had to explain the idea to my technophobic friends, that’s the tack I’d take.
For those more technically inclined, it might be useful to talk about open data, mashups,, the Open Government directive, XML, XBRL, virtualization, cloud computing, social media and a host of other terms that have meaning in context but without prior knowledge do little to inform the public about what, precisely, the “2.0″ means.

Posted via email from Corazon y Mente



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2 responses to “Describing Government 2.0: Alex Howard on Jargon and Communication

  1. Interesting post! As someone who sometimes trains teachers in using technology, I can confirm that the language used makes all the difference! I’m not as familiar with Government 2.0, but if it’s like Web 2.0, the vital difference might be communication. Maybe it could be described as helping government organizations better manage and share data, making it more freely and easily available to the public, and better communicating with the public, keeping them in the loop and constantly getting feedback. Is that what Government 2.0 is? Or am I not understanding it right?

  2. Pretty heady stuff there. How often do you hear someone reference Hammurabi, and Tim Berners-Lee in one discussion?
    I think Facebook (and AOL before it) answered this type of question pretty definitively in their own way. How many years had tech geeks tried to talk their friends and family into the benefits of being on line before someone just said “hey, you can see your grandkids and old high school buddies”
    Leave the talk of “flash vs h.264, and html5” for those who are interested. Just tell people the benefits in plain language.
    The bigger question is does the average citizen want to be engaged, or would they rather just leave the job of governing in the hands of whoever they elect to do it for them?

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