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DorobekInsider: The liner notes: Why blog — or Web 2.0 — anyway?

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On Monday, I am part of an event focused on the use of Web 2.0 in the government market hosted by government marketing guru Mark Amtower titled, Social Networking for B2G: Who’s Doing What, Why and How Can It Create a Fuller Pipeline for your Company in 2010. Specifically, I’m on a panel talking about blogging with Debbie Weil and Mark Drapeau. Other topics through the day include Twitter and Amtower favorite LinkedIn.

As I said, they have me scheduled to talk about blogging — and I guess it is because I’ve been doing it for a long time now, at least for this market and in terms of this market. I started blogging at Federal Computer Week more than four years ago… that blog has now morphed into theDorobekInsider. And more than a 17 months ago, I wrote a post headlined, Some tips to bloggers. I’ll amplify on it here… and alter some because, as we know, 17 months is near a lifetime in the Web 2.0 world… even the gov 2.0 world… And in January, even before theDorobekInsider moved to FederalNewsRadio.com, I wrote: Why blog? And welcome to another government CIO blogger: GSA’s Casey Coleman.

So in preparation for the Amtower event, I’ll just review the ‘why blog’ question… and then update some of my tips… and I’d love to hear your take on them.

First — why blogs?

Blogs have been around for awhile — at least I don’t have to explain what a blog is anymore.

They seem so simple, but from a journalistic standpoint, what an absolute revolution — putting publishing into the hands of… anybody… everybody. Absolutely remarkable.

But blogs also fit into the Dorobek definition of Web 2.0 — these are tools that enable information sharing. We have always understood that information is power, but what we are learning is that the real power of information comes when that information is shared. Blogs are one way to broaden that conversation. And in the government space, we have seen that with Rob Carey, the CIO at the Department of the Navy, the first government CIO to blog… Linda Cureton, now the NASA CIO, who is a regular blogger… and GSA CIO Casey Coleman, who has both a private blog within GSA and a public blog titled, Around the Corner : Innovation in the Business of Government: A GSA Blog. We spoke to Coleman on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris about the blog and why she does it.

In fact, Cureton wrote a very thoughtful blog post about blogging… and that spurred me to invite her to chat about it on Federal News Radio 1500 AM. Cureton clearly uses her blog as a way of thinking about issues in a very public — and very transparent — way. Again — my definition of Web 2.0: These are merely tools that tap into the theory that all of us are smarter then each of us individually. They tap into the theory that information is power — and that shared information becomes exponentially more valuable when it is shared. So Cureton thinks about issues and problems — and decisions that might otherwise seem out of the blue are suddenly clear… there can be buy-in… and it makes our decisions very human. Transparency and accountability — and, I would argue, leadership — require courage. It takes intestinal fortitude to step out and make your ideas very public. People can disagree — and there is still the ‘got ya’ culture out there. So I give these leaders a lot of credit. Carey and Cureton and Coleman are demonstrating that this tool can be an important part of leadership.

So I think blogs are an important step towards transparency and tapping into the wisdom of the crowds.

Cureton listed her reasons for blogging:

The truth of the matter … that I am not comfortable and I am afraid.  So, why do I blog?  Here are my reasons:

  • To learn and demonstrate the value of Web 2.0 technologies supporting the spirit of innovation that should be required of a NASA CIO
  • To communicate to stakeholders and customers the activities and issues related to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center IT Transformation
  • To focus my thoughts and learning to the things that matter in my role as the CIO

A very different example is the TSA blog, which has helped TSA improve their processes.

How to actually do it?

As  I mentioned, more than 17 months ago while at Federal Computer Week, I posted tips for bloggers. I have tweaked them below:

* Content is king… Write about something that matters — to you, to the community, to your organization — I mean that in the broadest sense of the word, but…

* Have a notion… Have an idea why you’re doing this and what you want to get across and the audience you’re trying to reach. Who are you writing this for? It makes a big difference.

* Understand that notion will change… My experience is that blogs evolve. And how you use them will evolve.

* Post regularly… If a blog is going to work, you have to post regularly. Find some regular interval and make the time. But realize that this does take time. The corollary to that is… And yes, regularly can mean daily… or monthly, but do it regularly.

* Integrate your blog into your life… This one is important. If it is going to work and be sustainable, you need to work it into your life. So, for example, if you are working on a security policy, blog about it. What better way to show people that you are pondering the issue — and get others insights. The same can be true about whatever you are working on. Ponder how much time you spend on documents and — god help us — e-mail messages responding to one issue or another. Rather then just sending an e-mail message, turn it into a blog post and send others the link to that post. Blogs are an opportunity to be real — and I think people will appreciate the work you do and the challenges you face much more.

* Don’t let perfection get in the way of the good… We hear this so often, but it is particularly true in the blogging world. Blogs are iterative. I often kick myself because I’ll think about some post several times. Well, just break it up into pieces. Don’t write the great American novel. Write the OK chapter or the not-bad paragraph. It is about sharing thoughts — and the people who are expecting perfection in a blog have come to the wrong place and, frankly, should go somewhere else.

* Appreciate comments… Even critical ones. Yes, bosses. It isn’t always easy, but… relish in the discussion. It is going on. It’s it better to be a part of that discussion rather then having it go on without yo ? (And in the government world, comments can be hard to come by. Know your audience and realize that feds have been burned before for speaking. It takes time.)

* Time management… The one thing you will hear from any blogger is frustration about time. And you need to realize and understand that this does take time. I have found that it works best if I have a time that I blog — each and every day. Some people have done multiple-user blogs to defray the time cost.

* Don’t discount what you do… This one frustrates me the most — and I’ve heard it from CIOs. They say, ‘Who would want to read what I work on?’ And most government folks will probably have this notion. Have you looked at some of the blogs out there? If you build a community of even a few hundred people and get a few new notions of a better way of doing your job or creating a policy, it could be worth it. This community works on important issues and important programs. Please don’t discount that.

* Just do it… Really — just do it. By doing it, you will learn… and this stuff isn’t as difficult as you make it out to be.

* Share… Share your lessons learned, share your ideas, share your thoughts. Be open to what might happen.

Written by cdorobek

December 7, 2009 at 10:44 AM

DorobekInsider on DC’s NewsChannel 8 tonight talking about the war on “social networking”

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Regular readers know that I am not of a fan of the term “social media” — and I like “social networking” even less. I originally wrote about it back in September under the headline The era of social media is over – long live collaboration tools — and then last month, following a wonderful event by Web 2.0 guru Debbie Weil titled Social Networking: the Two Dirtiest Words in Gov 2.0 (a Sweets and Tweets event), I wrote Gov 2.0 moves beyond ’social media’ — and why it’s more than semantics.

And just out today, my December column in AFCEA’s SIGNAL magazine has been posted headlined The War on Social Media: The term does not represent the real value of these tools—collaboration.

Tonight, I’ll be on DC’s News Channel 8‘s Federal News Tonight at 7:30p ET talking about this issue.

To be honest, this idea largely came from Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee, in his upcoming book Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges. The book is just out today — and McAfee spoke about the book, how these tools can help organizations accomplish their mission better, and why he is not a fan of the term “social networking” today on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. Read more and hear the full conversation here.

“Most of the organizations that I teach don’t feel that they are running a social club, and that adjective actually turns them off,” McAfee tells Federal News Radio. These tools are about empowering people, not getting them out of the way, he said, so there is a social aspect to them, but the term just doesn’t end up being helpful.

Too often, we think about e-mail as a our collaboration tool, McAfee notes — and as I have written about, The First Step Toward Collaboration Is to Stop E-Mailing. But these collaboration tools are very different — information sharing is the reason they were created. It isn’t an afterthought.

There has been an extensive discussion about this subject online. Tomorrow, we’ll cull some of that discussion.

Written by cdorobek

December 1, 2009 at 6:45 PM

DorobekInsider: What are the stories that shaped the government’s world in the past decade? Federal News Radio is asking…

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Shockingly enough, we are nearing the end of the year — and we are also nearing the end of the first decade of the 21st century. I actually forgot all of this until I was reading a New York Times story Naming the ’00s, where people are struggling about what to call this decade that we’re about to finish up. But it got me to thinking: It is remarkable how many events happen day to day, month to month… year to year. Some of the events that seemed big and important at the time end up being unimportant in hindsight. Other events seemed unimportant but grow in stature over time.

For the month of December on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris is taking a look back at the past decade — and a look forward to the years ahead — and we are asking a somewhat simple question: What was the big issue/event/theme that defined the past 10 years… and what are some of the issues we should watch for the years ahead.

We will have all the conversations archived on Federal News Radio’s Stories of the Decade page, which you can find here.

We are reaching out to many of our regulars to get their insights — we kick of the Stories of the Decade series today with Federal News Radio’s senior correspondent Mike Causey. Read more and hear our conversation with Causey here — and who better to kick off the series then somebody who has followed these issues so closely. He tells us that one of the biggest events to happen in the past decade actually got its start in 1986 when Congress passed the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act creating the Thrift Savings Plan, but the TSP has seen big innovation in the past decade.

In the coming weeks, we will talk to people for their thoughts — certainly the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will be discussed, but… Web 2.0… the Internet… pay-for-performance…

As always, I’d like to get your insights — what issues should we cover? Or is there a person who would have good insights on the events or issues that impact government? I’d love to get your thoughts.

And we will be bringing you our conversations over the next few weeks, so… as we say, stay tuned.

Written by cdorobek

November 30, 2009 at 2:22 PM

DorobekInsider: Gov 2.0 moves beyond ‘social media’ — and why it’s more than semantics

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Social networking — it is a term that has increasingly grown to make me cringe. And it is more then just semantics.

Regular DorobekInsider readers and listeners to Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris know it has been something of a campaign. In fact, I originally wrote about it back in September under the headline The era of social media is over – long live collaboration tools — and it is the subject of my column in AFCEA’s Signal magazine that will hit the streets on Dec. 1.

Last night, Web 2.0 guru Debbie Weil hosted a marvelous event titled Social Networking: the Two Dirtiest Words in Gov 2.0 (a Sweets and Tweets event) — the event was held at Baked & Wired in DC’s Georgetown, so we were surrounded by amazing cupcakes… and spirited yet very healthy debate. (David Harrity was kind enough to credit me with spurring the discussion, which is very kind. I actually credit Weil and Drapeau and the people in the room who were all interested in collaborating around this topic — in having a healthy debate.)

The main speaker was Mark Drapeau, who has an impressive bio — and an impressive following on Twitter. Drapeau is no stranger to listeners of Federal News Radio 1500 AM. He is one of a handful of government 2.0 thought leaders. And, as Drapeau acknowledged, he disagrees with me. (Drapeau and I disagree on things regularly — my guess is he does with many people — but he is also fascinated by a spirited debate on an issue and takes very little personally.  Additionally, he is unusually intelligent, which makes the debate even more refreshing.)

And I should say that Drapeau — and most of the people in the room — are interested in helping the government do its job better, and many of people there believe these tools offer real potential. The question at hand: Does the term “social media” and “social networking” help or hinder the cause of helping the government do its job better and more effectively.

Drapeau argued — and argues — that social networking is… well, social — and it is the socialness — the connections that people can make using these tools — and is empowering. In the end, these tools are much more then collaboration, he argues. It used to be about who you know, he says. Today, it’s about who knows you — and that, increasingly, the people who are the most connected are the most influential. And he argues that while social networking is… well, social, there is a lot of good and important work being done.

Further, he argued that these tools have connected him with many people he never would have met otherwise. But I would argue that comes from the sharing of information. That information sharing spurred collaboration. In work instances, the social aspects come later.

Both Drapeau and I agree that too often, people start with a tool or tactic. Instead, they need to have a goal in mind — what are you trying to accomplish, he said.

In many respects, Drapeau and I agree — but I continue to believe that the term “social networking” and “social media” are, in fact, detrimental. My co-anchor, Amy Morris, argues that my argument is largely about semantics. And, perhaps as a writer, I’m biased to believing that words are powerful and that they matter.

To me, the term social media is simply inaccurate. In the end, I don’t think that these tools are “media,” but beyond that, they aren’t really about being social.Socialness is the side benefit. Socialness is tantamount to the increased energy you get when you exercise — in the end, it isn’t the main purpose of exercise, but it sure is nice.

In the end, most organizations — and particularly agencies — aren’t interested in the social aspects of these tools. To the contrary, the social aspects hinder many organizations from using these tools, the same way it did with giving people e-mail addresses and putting the Internet oneverybody’s computer.

The fact is there isn’t a single agency that has the mission of being social. Even the Office of Personnel Management, the government’s HR organization, isn’t responsible forsocialness. For OPM — and for most organizations — these tools are a means to enable them to accomplish the mission more effectively and more efficiently.

But the term “social media” is, in fact, dangerous because it gives people the opportunity to discount these very powerful tools with a broad brush. (Giving credit where credit is due: This idea largely comes from Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee, the guy credited with “inventing” the term “enterprise 2.0” — and he mentions this in his upcoming book Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges, due to be released Dec. 1. I should also note that we will talk to McAfee on Dec. 1 on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris.)

Dave Wennergren [PDF], the deputy CIO at the Defense Department, has a great line: “If you think Facebook is just for dating, you haven’t checked it out.” And he is exactly right. Yes — there is dating going on — and a whole lot of social stuff too — but the reason people are using these tools in droves is they let them do something that has been frustratingly out of reach: to share information. These tools — collaboration tools is my current preferred term, but I’m willing to take suggestions — these tools let people tap into the wisdom of the crowd… of their crowd. And people are learning that information is power — but that the real power of information comes when it is shared. That sharing helps everybody.

In the end, the power of these tools comes from their inherent ability to enable information sharing and collaboration, not from the social aspects. And I would point to the Better Buy Project, created by GSA, ACT/IAC and the National Academy of Public Administration. This site lets anybody, but particularly procurement officals, to share ideas and issues, propose solutions, and vote on other people’s ideas. And in the end, the site was created by sharing information in GovLoop’s Acquisition 2.0 group — by collaborating. Yes, there is a social aspect to all of that, but the question in the end — and the criteria that organization’s are going to judge the value — is whether these tools are helping people accomplish the organization’s mission. And that is something that bothDrapeau and I are in total agreement.

By the way, GSA’s Mary Davie tweeted that the Federal Acquisition Service is using the term “collaborative technologies.”

The phrase my be passe these days, but I still believe that content is still king — the ideas and thoughts matter. And while it is important who knows you, what is most important is the value of the information that you share — and how that information enables people to do their jobs better and faster.

(If I mischaracterized Drapeau’s thoughts and arguments, I know he — and others — will correct me and add their thoughts. You can also follow the #sweetevent Tweet stream here.)

A few other interesting comments from the event:

* Frederick Wellman, a former Army public affairs officer — his blog is titled Armed and Curious… Wellman argued that in many organizations, as government 2.0 has rolled out, the organizations are flattening. There is a greater ability for ideas to grow from the front lines. The traditional, hierarchical organizational structure is just changing. I think it is one of the scary parts of government 2.0, particularly for leaders — the loss of control, or, more accurately, the loss of perceived control. I recommendedWellman read the book What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis, which was the subject of the March meeting of the Federal News Radio Book Club. Jarvis highlights a number of principles in his book. Among them, as detailed in a BusinessWeek excerpt:

  • give up control;
  • get out of the way;
  • make mistakes well.

* Dux Raymond Sy, a managing partner with Innovative-e said that in too many cases, agencies are enamored by the tools — they are lured by the technology — and often see these tools as silver bullets that will solve the organization’s challenges. In fact, he argued, they are tools and they can help an organization accomplish its mission, but they aren’t magic.

* Kathleen Smith, the Chief Marketing Officer of ClearedJobs.Net, argued that the next evolution — dare we say Gov 3.0 — will be when people — citizens — get fully engaged using these tools. My sense is we’re already starting to see some of that, but… if true, change could really be coming.

See photos from the event… including one of me

Finally, thanks to FederalNewsRadio.com Internet Editor Dorothy Ramienski (@emrldcitychick) for joining me at the event tonight. While she is newlywed, I kept teasing her that it was our date night. She got to be a part of what I think was a interesting, educational, informative and fun discussion.

DorobekInsider: GovLoop graduates finding a great new home with GovDelivery — what will it mean?

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The buzz around town for the past few days is the announcement that GovLoop, the “Facebook for feds,” has a new home — with GovDelivery, a Minnesota-based company that specializes in helping agencies communicate with citizens — and we spoke to them today on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. Hear our conversation here.

Here is Ressler’s announcement on GovLoop.

You can also read Ressler’s GovLoop blog post about the deal here:

By joining GovLoop and GovDelivery, I will be able to continue to lead GovLoop and will have more resources to support and improve the platform so the community can continue to grow….

In just over a year, GovLoop grew from merely an idea to more than 18,000 members across all levels of government. During this growth, GovLoop was just a hobby. I had a 9 to 5 at DHS (with some amazingly supportive bosses) and GovLoop was my 5 to 9 (and weekends). People always asked how I had enough time to do both. The answer is I really didn’t.

GovLoop isn’t about me. It’s about the community. And the community has kept GovLoop going.

You can also read Scott Burns take on his insightful Reach the Public blog:

GovLoop (the Facebook for Government) joins up with GovDelivery

What we’ve learned reinforces what we’ve heard from our clients: social media is most powerful when it creates connections that either improve government, improve citizen access to government, or both. While we will continue to help our clients use the GovDelivery platform to launch content into social media, we believe that, together with GovLoop, we can help create the kind of connections between government people and organizations that lead to enduring and positive change in the governments we serve.

This will be good for our clients, the people in the government organizations we serve, and for the public.

That is what they think this means, but… what will it mean?

The obvious answer is… we don’t know.

Washington Technology actually had a delightful piece, GovLoop acquisition by GovDelivery strengthens both, analysts believe. Some of the key take aways from Alice Lipowicz’s piece:

“It’s a fantastic move for Steve, and a shrewd move for GovDelivery. It’s a way for GovDelivery to extend the services they offer,” said Steve Lunceford, strategic communications consultant with Deloitte in McLean, Va. He predicts GovDelivery will offer additional services leveraging the GovLoop membership, including Web dialogues and access to interactive conversations on topics such as government best practices and solutions.

And…

“GovDelivery has experience in connecting government agencies to each other, and to citizens,” said Mark Drapeau, an associate research fellow at the National Defense University’s Center for Technology and National Security Policy and a Federal Computer Week columnist. “Steve has created a community, which GovDelivery lacks.”

Government marketing guru Mark Amtower had a somewhat negative take:

I do not think this move will help GovLoop continue its growth pattern, though. One of the things that fueled the growth was the buzz about it being run by a govie. Now he’s a contractor – and consequently many of those currently in govLoop and those considering joining because it was “open” will now look at it as just another contractor tool.

GovExec.com’s FedBlog’s headline: GovLoop goes corporate.

The DorobekInsider’s take…

With all due respect to Amtower — and GovExec’s FedBlog — I’m not sure that is the issue. This has been a long process for Ressler — and he had many different organizations vying for GovLoop. And he didn’t just partner with just another contractor.

2006 Rising Star Steve Ressler

2006 Rising Star Steve Ressler

I know both these guys — and, without sounding too patronizing to their exceedingly good and hard work, I am exceedingly proud of them. I first met Ressler through Federal Computer Week’s Rising Star awards program. In fact, I put Ressler and his step-sister on the cover of the magazine in recognition of their work creating the marvelous Young Government Leaders group. (How is it Ressler hasn’t aged?) I have then invited Ressler to speak at several events… he has gone on to be a two-time winner of FCW’s prestigious Fed 100 award. And, in fact, one of the very first posts when I launched the DorobekInsider was about Ressler and GovLoop.

I am equally in awe of GovDelivery’s Scott Burns. I had both Burns and Ressler over for dinner last week and it was Burns who reminded me that we first met at IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference several years ago. He was on a panel moderated by Harvard Prof. Steve Kelman… and I remember sitting in the audience and listening to Burns… and I was just impressed. After the panel, I introduced myself — and I told him that I was impressed. He went on to write a column for FCW in 2008, The not so invisible hand, which is still worth reading. And he went on to win a well deserved 2009 Fed 100 award.

Ressler is in his late 20s… Burns is in his early 30s. I just love that. They have great energy — Ressler has some great quotes in our Federal News Radio that are wonderfully 20-something. But they are also willing to figure it out.

This just seems to be a practically perfect union. With all due respect to Amtower, this isn’t any contractor. I have had extensive discussions with both Ressler and Burns — and I am honored they came on Federal News Radio to talk about this deal — and both of them are motivated by public service. Both are keenly aware that the reason GovLoop has been successful is because of Ressler… and I would argue that part of the reason why GovDelivery has been successful — although perhaps less visible — but that success is because of Burns. Both these guys are focused on helping the government do its job better — and they both believe they want to help government agencies do that.

A lot of this is uncharted territory — and it will be fascinating to see how this evolves — and it will be interesting if GovDelivery can make money from GovLoop. (Bo Peabody, the founder of Tripod, one of the first social networks, and currently the managing general partner of New York-based venture capital firm Village Ventures, wrote a wonderful piece in the WP headlined, Twitter.org. He argues — even questions — whether these collaboration tools can be profitable. HT: Ethan Zuckerman)

This could be a powerful tool — that managers end up using. GovLoop’s Acquisition 2.0 group, started by GSA’s Mary Davie, has more than 300 people sharing ideas. As Harvard Professor Steve Kelman wrote in his FCW.com blog, this is a place where people are actually collaborating on common problems. What a concept — and what a wonderful model.

Almost as interesting will be how others compete with this union. There are others looking at this market — and looking to outdo GovLoop. One of those is, for example, is something called DisGOVer… there is the Federal Contractor Network, which has nearly 10,000 people… there is also Steve O’Keefe’s largely unnoticed MeriTalk… even FedScoop. (Editor’s transparency note: I sit on the FedScoop board of advisers.)

GovLoop — and the Federal Contractor Network — have the advantage of being platforms. They are essentially tools that get used by their members. They are guided, but… there is no “control” — and that seems powerful to me.

All of that being said, the competition is great — and will be great for the government and this market.

Read more about the GovLoop-GovDelivery:

Ariel Hamilton’s Gov 2.0 Blog Talk Radio program talks about GovLoop-GovDelivery

GovTwit blog: Mixing up some awesome sauce

Written by cdorobek

October 5, 2009 at 7:28 AM

DorobekInsider: CIO Council publishes gov 2.0 guidance

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The federal CIO Council has published guidance for the secure use of “social media” — and they are branding it version 1.0.

The formal title: Guidelines for Secure Use of Social Media by Federal Departments and Agencies, v1.0

And abstract:

The use of social media for federal services and interactions is growing tremendously, supported by initiatives from the administration, directives from government leaders, and demands from the public. This situation presents both opportunity and risk. Guidelines and recommendations for using social media technologies in a manner that minimizes the risk are analyzed and presented in this document.

This document is intended as guidance for any federal agency that uses social media services to collaborate and communicate among employees, partners, other federal agencies, and the public.

Note: The Federal CIO Council does not endorse the use or imply preference for any vendor commercial products or services mentioned in this document.

I’m reading the full document right now. My immediate reaction is to do away with the term “social media.” And it isn’t just a semantic issue. First off, I don’t think the term “social media” is accurate. Most of them are tools more then they are “media.” And yes, there is a social aspect to these tools, but the reason they are powerful is that they are collaborative. So I prefer the term “collaborative technologies.”

Yesterday, I heard NASA Goddard Space Flight Center CIO Linda Cureton speak at an Input breakfast — and she made the same point… And so does Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee in his upcoming book Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges.

I’m reading the document now… and I’ll post my thoughts over the weekend. I hope you will share your thoughts as well.

Find a link to the document here… or read it below:

View this document on Scribd

Written by cdorobek

September 18, 2009 at 3:45 PM

DorobekInsider: DOD’s developing Web 2.0 policy — and collaborating around security

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Too often, enterprise 2.0 and security seem to be in conflict.

The Defense Department is on the front lines of this debate. DOD is now fleshing out its policy that could be released publicly later this year.

Much of this started when it was reported that the Marine Corps banned Web 2.0 applications. (As NextGov’s Bob Brewin notes, the Marine Corps didn’t bad Web 2.0. They just banned it on the Marine Corps networks. Hear Brewin talk about it here.) Some might argue that it is an issue of symantics — if you ban these applications from your network and computers, doesn’t it become a difference without a difference.

That being said, the Marine Corps stories spurred the Pentagon to look at the formulation of a DOD-wide policy. And the Pentagon has been collecting ideas and opinions online at web20guidanceforum.dodlive.mil. On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief, we spoke to Jack Holt, DoD’s senior strategist for emerging media. Hear that conversation here. (Read Holt’s intro to the Web 2.0 Guidance Forum — and the comments — here.)

There have been a few Web 2.0 policies out there. The Navy was the first… and GSA issued one earlier this year… And we told you about the British government’s Web 2.0 policy earlierwe even got to talk to them about it — but the DOD policy could be the significant moment for the evolution of enterprise 2.0.

Unfortunately, there are a few factions that have evolved — the big ones are the Web 2.0 camp, of course… the other being the security camp, who argue that these tools just aren’t safe.

It seems enormously important that these factions talk to each other — in fact, why not use these tools to collaborate to find a solution. Both sides have very important issues, but there isn’t nearly enough respect for the opinions of the two sides.

* Web 2.0 — These tools tend to get discounted — they are unfairly called “social” networking. Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee, author of the upcoming book Enterprise 2.0, notes that he specifically doesn’t call it social networking because that discounts the use of these tools. In the end, enterprise 2.0 is about collaboration and information sharing — and that has been an issue confronting the government… in fact, confronting all organizations… for years. Enterprise 2.0 tools are built on the concept that all of us are smarter then each of us individually. And you can just read the 9/11 Commission’s final — in the end, we had the information around 9/11. We just couldn’t connect the dots. These tools could help us deal with that. We’re just in the early stages of that, but… there seems to be so much potential here.

* Security — The fact is we have to figure out how to do all of this securely. Government agencies — particularly DOD — have information that can’t be ‘out there.’ But there are also issues about some of these applications themselves — and, unfortunately, some of these companies seem to scoff at their responsibility for securing their applications. If this can’t be done securely, it won’t work. The questions is — what is the security framework?

One of the big issues is we don’t have to secure everything. Linton Wells II and Mark Drapeau recently wrote a paper for the National Defense University looking at national security and social software. One of their assessments was we have to determine what actually needs to be secure — and what doesn’t. I’m hoping that some of those issues will be addressed in the Obama administration’s transparency and openness initiative.

But the Defense Department deserves a lot of credit for trying to bring the Web 2.0 and the security people together. It seems to me there are real opportunities here — for both Web 2.0 and security.

Some additional reading:

Dennis McDonald’s Challenges Facing Development of a DoD “Web 2.0 Policy” [August 12, 2009]

Federal Times op-ed by Navy CIO Rob Carey: Navy, Marine Corps put Web 2.0 technology to work [February 24, 2009]

Federal News Radio 1500 AM: Agencies trying to find balance between Web 2.0, cybersecurity [August 28, 2009]

Written by cdorobek

September 14, 2009 at 7:44 AM

DorobekInsider on DC’s NewsChannel 8 tonight talking the Intellipedia and A-Space — the liner notes

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UPDATE: See the video from News Channel 8 here

The DorobekInsider will be on DC’s NewsChannel 8‘s Federal News Tonight program tonight in the 7:30p ET half-hour.. and we’re going to be talking about Intellipedia and, specifically, A-Space. And it ends up being timely given the announcement by the Marine Corps that the service is blocking use of the collaboration tools on its networks. The Pentagon also announced that it is going to review the use of Facebook and other social networking sites on its computers with an eye toward setting rules on how to protect against possible security risks.

Somewhat related… I posted about Intellipedia and A-Space recently — and Monday on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to Ahmad Ishaq, A-Space Project Manager, and Mike Woods, Senior Analyst for the Functional Requirements Team. Hear that conversation here:

Tonight on NewsChannel 8, we’ll talk about…
* What is Intellipedia and A-Space?
I mentioned this before, but Intellipedia and the intelligence community have really been a leader in the use of these collaboration tools. As I mentioned earlier, Intellipedia is a real leader in the use of collaboration tools. Intellipedia is highlighted by Harvard Business School Prof. Andrew McAfee in his wonderful upcoming book Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges. McAfee is credited with creating the term Enterprise 2.0, which is the use of Web 2.0 technologies  (set for November release – although there is an active effort to move up the publication date). Anyway, in McAfee’s book, Intellipedia ends up being one of his four enterprise 2.0 case studies — right up there with a case from Google. (In his book, McAfee notes that he doesn’t like the term “social media.” It almost discounts the real power of these tools. He refers to them as collaboration tools — and that’s really the point: They can help people share information.) And it’s easy to forget how important this is — just go back and read the 9/11 Commission final report, which highlighted the lack of information sharing. In the end, the government couldn’t find the needles in the haystack. The idea behind the these tools to to enable more eyes — and more sharing of information — could just enable more attention to the needles.

* How do these tools help the intelligence community collaborate?
The independent study conducted by a knowledge management consultant — you can read the report here — found that A-Space provides analysts with a area where they can share that information.

* Where does it go from here?
This is really the most interesting question — because there are some real turning points coming up.

I’ll post the video tonight once it is posted.

Written by cdorobek

August 4, 2009 at 5:44 PM

DorobekInsider: GSA and the Recovery Board release the redacted Recovery.gov contract

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We have been telling you about the the Recovery and Transparency Board and the General Services Administration, which acted as the Recovery Board’s acquisition team, $9.5 million contact award to Smartronix for the next generation of Recovery.gov. (Read DorobekInsider: The real story behind the Recovery.gov contract: The need for govt contracting transparency… More also here and here and here…)

Late on Friday — and it was quite late… 8:42p to be exact — GSA issued a press release announcing that GSA and the Recovery Board had issued a redacted version of the contract with Smartronix.

Generally, when something gets released at nearly 9p on a Friday night in the summer, I always assume they are looking to avoid being noticed. (The wonderful TV show West Wing in the first season did a episode called Taking out the Trash Day, where unpleasant items were released on a Friday.) I’m going to withhold that judgement until I have an opportunity to actually talk to the Recovery Board and GSA officials to get the rest of the story. Let’s just say… I’m suspicious… and I’ll be reading the documents carefully. That being said, it could just be that folks were working until the last minute and they wanted to clear their plate for the weekend. (I would have recommended waiting because, given the importance of transparency with the Recovery and Transparency Board, releasing something late on a Friday night seems to meet the letter but not the intent of transparency.

Anyway, GSA and the Recovery Board did something of a data dump, releasing a number of documents. I have posted the PDF links and the Scrib links, where you can find the releases in a Flash format. I also have posted the GSA release from late Friday. The Recovery Board and GSA have also posted the documents in an .xpx format for use with screen reader software. I haven’t reposted those links. You can find them on the Recovery Board’s Web site.

I have to admit — I spent the weekend moving, but I will read all of them this over this week.

The documents released:

Initial Award of Contract Documents (PDF or Scribd)
This file consists of three documents:
1- The scan of the signed GSA Form 300 (p.1).
2- The Pricing Description (p. 2-3) that lists all awarded and optional Contract Line Items.
3- The Statement of Work (p. 4-44) that details the work Smartronix was expected to perform.

Second Modification Statement of Objectives (PDF or Scrib)
This document was issued by GSA to solicit proposals from firms on the Alliant Governmentwide Contract, detailing the requirements and objectives of the new Recovery.gov.

First Contract Modification (administrative) (PDF or Scrib)
The GSA form 300 that corrected accounting coding information and specified a period of performance for the contract.

Second Contract Modification SF 30 and Pricing (PDF or Scrib)
This file consists of two documents:
1- The scan of the signed Standard Form 30 (p.1).
2- The Pricing Description (p. 2-9) that lists all awarded and optional Contract Line Items, and establishes limits for travel, ancillary and support expenses that can be charged to the government.

Second Modification Statement of Objectives (PDF or Scrib)
This document was issued by GSA to solicit proposals from firms on the Alliant Governmentwide Contract, detailing the requirements and objectives of the new Recovery.gov.

Second Modification Management Proposal (PDF or Scrib)
This document was submitted by Smartronix detailing how the company proposed to meet the Recovery.gov requirements and objectives.

Second Modification Technical Proposal (PDF or Scrib)
This document was submitted by Smartronix detailing how the company proposed to meet the Recovery.gov requirements and objectives.

And the Recovery and Transparency Board/GSA press release:

GSA Releases New Recovery.gov Contract Documents
Contract Posted to Recovery.gov to Promote Transparency and Accountability

WASHINGTON – In a major step toward developing a state-of-the-art website that provides the public with a user-friendly portal to see how recovery money is being spent, the U.S. General Services Administration, on behalf of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, recently awarded Smartronix Inc. with a contract to build the new Recovery.gov website.

GSA, in cooperation with the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, has released the contract documents and they have been posted on Recovery.gov.

Through the use of innovative new technology, approachable design, and powerful data analysis and reporting tools, the new Recovery.gov will provide citizens and communities with easy access to information on recovery spending, thus increasing government transparency and accountability.

The contract award for the new Recovery.gov is part of this effort. Included in the information posted to Recovery.gov are the contractual documents, the Statement of Objectives, the contractor’s management and technical proposal which were incorporated into the task order, and a pricing summary.

Consistent with the release of these types of documents, they were carefully reviewed to ensure compliance with all relevant regulations. Proprietary information about Smartronix and its partners has been redacted pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(4), which allows for the withholding of certain commercial or financial records if the release of such records would involve a substantial risk of competitive injury to a business.

Information that qualifies for redaction can include private business sales statistics, technical design, research data, non federal customer and supplier lists, overhead and operating costs, non-public financial statements, resumes of company employees, names of consultants and subcontractors, details of production or quality control systems information, internal operating procedures, staffing patterns, and any information that may place a company at a competitive disadvantage for future procurements.

We take our responsibility to implement the Recovery Act in an open and transparent manner very seriously.

The following three groups of documents have been posted on Recovery.gov at http://www.recovery.gov/?q=content/recovery-redesign-contract.

Initial Award of Contract This group consists of three documents:

1- The GSA Form 300 that formally awarded the project to build the new Recovery.gov to Smartronix, Inc. It required Smartronix’s work to be performed according to the attached Statement of Work. It also approved funding totaling $9.5 Million for development and implementation of the website (Contract Line Item 1), and development and implementation of a parallel Continuation of Operations (COOP) Site (Contract Line Item 80).

2- The Pricing Description that lists all awarded and optional Contract Line Items.

3- The Statement of Work that details the work Smartronix was expected to perform.

First Contract Modification (administrative) This group consists of one document:
1- The GSA form 300 that corrected accounting coding information and specified a period of performance for the contract.

Second Contract Modification This group consists of five documents:
1- The Standard Form 30 that clarified information in the initial award document by defining limits for certain expenses the contractor can charge to the government, and requiring that they perform work according to the requirements of the original Statement of Objectives, the contractor’s Management Proposal, and the contractor’s Technical Proposal.
2- The Pricing Description that lists all awarded and optional Contract Line Items, and establishes limits for travel, ancillary and support expenses that can be charged to the government.
3- The Statement of Objectives issued by GSA to solicit proposals from firms on the Alliant Governmentwide Contract, detailing the requirements and objectives of the new Recovery.gov.
4- The Technical Proposal submitted by Smartronix detailing how the company proposed to meet the Recovery.gov requirements and objectives.
5- The Management Proposal submitted by Smartronix detailing how the company proposed to meet the Recovery.gov requirements and objectives.

DorobekInsider: The UK government encourages tweeting — and issues Twitter guidance

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I mentioned that I was over the Britain for the past few days celebrating my sister’s birthday. (My mother was able to rent this remarkable place designed by famous British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, who designed the British Embassy‘s Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC, which is part of the Massachusetts Avenue historic district and is a marvelous building that unfortunately gets overlooked because of the modern new part of the embassy.)

While I was “across the pond,” there was an item stuffed inside the London papers — the British government was encouraging its career workers to use Twitter. Here is the story from the BBC:

New government guidance has been published urging civil servants to use the micro-blogging site Twitter.

twitterLaunched on the Cabinet Office website, the 20-page document is calling on departments to “tweet” on “issues of relevance or upcoming events”…

Neil Williams, of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), published the “template” strategy.

Writing on the Cabinet Office’s digital engagement blog, Mr Williams – who is BIS’s head of corporate digital channels – conceded that 20 pages was a “a bit over the top for a tool like Twitter” but added: “I was surprised by just how much there is to say – and quite how worth saying it is.”

You the full BBC story here.

Read Williams’ full post about the Twitter strategy here.

He has some good recommendations in his post:

For the next version of this document I’d like to set down how and when civil servants should support, encourage and manage Ministers’ use of Twitter for Departmental business (and navigate the minefield of propriety this might imply), and add a light touch policy for officials who tweet about their work in a personal capacity.

Finally, some of the benefits I’ve found of having this document in my armoury are:

  • To get buy-in, explain Twitter’s importance to non-believers and the uninitiated, and face down accusations of bandwagon-jumping
  • To set clear objectives and metrics to make sure there’s a return on the investment of staff time (and if there isn’t, we’ll stop doing it)
  • To make sure the channel is used consistently and carefully, to protect corporate reputation from silly mistakes or inappropriate use
  • To plan varied and interesting content, and enthuse those who will provide it into actively wanting to do so.
  • As a briefing tool for new starters in the team who will be involved in the management of the channel

I hope you’ll find it useful too.

And, in fact, you can read the UK guidance below… or download the PDF here:

View this document on Scribd

I should note here in the US, there is a somewhat grass roots group called the Social Media Subcouncil, which hosts a wiki and collects information about items just like this. EPA’s Jeffrey Levy was on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris earlier this year talking about the group and what they hope to accomplish. Hear that conversation here… and see the subcouncil’s collection of best practices and policies here.

One other note (and a slight poke): Why isn’t this kind of policy being done by GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy — to help put something like this together… to pull people together to talk about the challenges and issues. I know there are many good people in OGP, but they just don’t appear to be players in an area where they should be the leaders. Instead, the phrase people say to me: GSA OGP is MIA. (I should note: I have been told by OGP folks that my impression of the role of the Office of Governmentwise Policy is incorrect. I thought it was to help guide policy. I would welcome that conversation.)

Written by cdorobek

July 30, 2009 at 8:37 AM