How do we solve a problem like gov2.0?

Had a great evening tonight discussing how government can embrace the opportunities of web2.0 with a bunch of interesting people – including ministers, senior officials, entrepreneurs and IT providers.

Hosted by the ever-genial crew from Ideal Government, the imposition of the Chatham House rules forbids me from going into detail about the discussion.

But the fact that we were even talking about it, and the fact that the group of people around the table all had a pretty sophisticated view on the subject, was to me a major step change. Twelve months ago I doubt we would have even been having the conversation at all.

Ideal Government will be posting a summary of the discussion shortly, and I don’t want to abuse their hospitality by stealing their thunder. So here are just a few thoughts that chimed with me:

  • A real recognition that innovation doesn’t have to cost a lot but we just need to just try things. I’d add that we also need to ensure that the good stuff that is already going on is identified and surfaced so we can learn better from each other.
  • A feeling that incumbent IT providers have little to gain from promoting free, open source (market leading) collaborative tools as it threatens their business models. Must admit I hadn’treally given much thought to this before but it certainly feels right.
  • We need to recognise that government won’t always be best place to deliver innovation around public services or information. We need to be prepared to cede control and create the environment for others to act as intermediaries or have access to our data so they can create value from it. This is crucial, we have enough to do just improving our basic services online and not be distracted by the cool stuff (I’m regularly guilty of this, new betas are sooo seductive…).

Thank you Ideal Government for hosting the dinner. The more conversations people have, the more often, the better.

  1. Thanks for this summary Jeremy. Really helpful for those of us who were not there.

    This chimes almost perfectly with some of the themes to emerge from the web24gov workshop last week – Especially the idea that Government should see itself as the ‘wholesaler’ not the ‘exclusive retailer’ of government information and services and that innovation needs to be encouraged.


  2. Lots of talking 🙂 Sorry, I know it needs to happen and it IS exciting that this stuff is being taken seriously, but I am not sure how much more talking there is to do (at risk of being smote down). ‘Web 2.0’ is happening already in government, well to all of us…

    • alex
    • June 26th, 2008


    Thanks as always for the updates for those outside the Circle line.

    Agree with Emma that the train has now left the station.

    As long as we are on it….


  3. @Alex: indeed. Though this was an interesting thoughtful discussion about how to embed this stuff, and particularly about data streams which are big, big undertakings.
    Interesting times for sure.

    • futurewww
    • June 29th, 2008

    Simon Berry’s comment makes me a little worried, Government as the ‘wholesaler’ of government information. This strikes me as a particular Tory kind of idea. Is Cameron making a grab for 2.0? Is online innovation just a cover for splitting state provision, introducing private sector entrepreneurs? Be afraid, be very afraid….

  4. @futurewww. Well, it hadn’t struck me that way before. I suppose the ethos is that, by making information available as data, individuals or organisations might do stuff with it (such as geo-mapping) that government either wouldn’t think of or couldn’t justify investing in.

  5. “the imposition of the Chatham House rules forbids me from going into detail about the discussion.”? As the link you provide says, Chatham House rules simply means you can’t say who said something, you can go into as much detail as you like as to what was said…

  6. @Matthew: true, its more like bad memory and tendency to over-generalise that prevents me from going into detail….

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