I predicted that "the seemingly incompatible concepts of Web 2 and e-government will be reconciled in perfect harmony or ingenious triple loops" at BarCampWellingtonNZegov last Saturday.
Well, there were plenty of loops and some ingenious de facto solutions. However, the constraints preventing government agencies from dipping a toe into Web 2.0 were obvious and real.
Colin Jackson dedicated his talk to exposing artificial distinctions. For example, technology and culture and policy: can we really draw a line between them? But nobody proposed that government (which we were reminded by Mark Harris, does not exist as an entity anyway) and Web 2.0 were essentially indistinguishable.
Jayne Wallis talked about the need to get input from the public at every stage of policy development. By the time public policy reaches a select committee, it's almost too late. She would like to see a portal of the people where all discussion documents are available, along with a timetable and means to participate at any point. The detail of her concept made it different.
Some interesting initiatives:
- Law Access - "Track down legal info fast". A government site gathering legal information from many sources.
- NZHistory online is a hugely popular site owned by the NZ Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
- The Canterbury Public Issues Forum is an online forum where citizens participate in discussions about local issues. It's a private initiative with no-strings government funding: a valid solution to the dilemma of government's conflicting obligations.
- NZPolitics is a public social network created by Seth Wagoner within seconds, under our very noses, just to show how ridiculously simple the process can be.
As for my research into NZ government officials blogging, that was a fizzer. I asked 30 government agencies (mostly departments and ministries) whether their CEO has a blog, whether for staff or the public. 15 replied. 14 said no. But the blog of Howard Broad, NZ Police Commissioner, is a great success with his staff.
I nearly forgot to say I thoroughly enjoyed this unconference. Very relaxed, excellent food and coffee, good people. Fun. Many thanks to the organisers and sponsors, especially to Fronde.