I find often that discussions about social media and web 2.0 in government often turn to demographics to answer the “why should we care about this stuff?” question.
Fair enough, there’s value in the idea of getting on the 2.0 train because this is what the digital natives who are starting to enter the workforce expect from the workplace, and it’s also what digital natives — who will become our biggest stakeholder segment soon — will expect from their government.
But that actually gives an excuse to bureaucrats who aren’t digital natives to continue NOT caring. I guess the thinking would go along the lines of “oh, it’s not about me, it’s about those kids with their iPods” or “I’m gonna retire soon so I can leave this stuff to the poor sucker gets stuck in my job after I’m outta here.”
So I find myself turning to the economic (wikinomics) argument for getting into web 2.0 in government. That web 2.0 represents a new mode of production that is in the making – based on collaboration and sharing, rather than protecting data, information and intelligence.
This is a much more radical, far-reaching notion. If we really are embarking on a new way of generating wealth and economic value, then this cannot be ignored. It affects everyone, whether digital native or immigrant (or luddite!). But it’s not as straightforward an argument to make, since it’s about the big picture. There’s huge policy implications that we are only just starting to get a glimpse of.
I know that I haven’t really got a good handle on the wikinomics idea (I still haven’t finished reading the book, not that that’ll really help me and my wee communicators’ brain) — but I think it’s pretty clear that we are seeing some radical changes around us thanks to massive-scale digital networking. Whether it’s Google’s ascendancy, the death spiral of the big record labels and Hollywood studios, or Barack Obama’s campaign 2.0 south of the 49th. And those are just three quick examples …