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Came across http://www.govcamps.org today (hat tip @dominiccampbell).

Apparently, it's a Microsoft initiative.

Looks a bit... odd.

Anyone know what this is about?

Tags: barcamp, gov20, opengov

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IngageNetworks is powering it, funny how low-profile Microsoft is about sponsoring it. Don't really need a new spot to discuss Gov 2.0; maybe MS got tired to not getting top billing and featured speakers at events?
Actually we have been sponsoring GovCamps for the past year or so.

Our low profile is done specifically on purpose. We believe that local communities have the passion, skills and insight to drive Gov20 and openGov efforts on their own and we simply want to be able to provide a platform upon which they can dig deep into these issues.

We have done them in Berlin, Mexico City, Colombia, Toronto, Sydney and Boston and will sponsor another one in New Zealand this coming week. We specifically have local organizing committees run them, we conduct them all in local language and invite social media, competitors and partners to revel in the discourse to help drive the progress of the Gov2.0 movement.

I am literally on the flight back from Boston now. Harvard's Kennedy School of Government co-sponsored our annual summit after a year of GovCamps where we had social media activists, competitors and governmental leaders from around the world to learn from each other on how Gov2.0 and OpenGov can transform Government. Ministers, Presidential staff, campaign staff's, CIO's from Brazil, Portugal, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Colombia and the US participated and the conversations were incredible.

The site is simply an attempt to connect these events together so that the conversations that happen at these camps can continue as long as citizens want them to.

We have no need to plaster our name all over the events as they are deep partnership events with local and global leaders. It takes all of them, together, to make these events happen and be successful. We have no higher placement than any of the other partners and feel no need to do so. We get deep value simply from enabling the process and learning from the events themselves.

Matt
Thanks for clarifying, Matt. Might be helpful to add this information to the about page. ;-)
Good point Tim. Will add some more context to the splash page in the next day or so (travel days are awful, but in flight WiFi is awesome!) :)
Btw, being originally from Germany I was closely following Gov 2.0 Camp Berlin last year (slight chance I might even get to attend this year). I know one of the co-organizers works for Microsoft, but up until today I wasn't aware that the company played such a key role in "conducting" the event.
anke works for our public sector in germany amd helped organize locally...i was up at the front of the crowd during the opening session. it was an awesome event...the local orga team is an ultimate example abt how to do events well.

it was our first global event anf became the model for the rest.

matt
I (the mentioned Microsoft employee) initiated the German Gov20Camp but the whole organisation was done by a 15 heads orgateam, from various backgrounds (universities, companies, NGOs, civil servants from all federal levels, entrepreneurs) who worked hard over weeks and month to do so.

Although I had a leading role in coordinating the orga team, all decisions were made jointly with every member of the team having the same rights. My vote was not heavier than each of the other ones. We had many, many partners, supporters, and sponsors from all sorts of backgrounds. Microsoft had no special visibility, not more than other partners, supporters, or sponsors who made this barcamp possible. Except for the opening session where I was a moderator, all other sessions where decided upon by the attending participants - just like in every real barcamp. No designed agenda, made by Microsoft - not one single session. We not even had a booth...

Eventually, the barcamp had such a great atmosphere, that people wanted to stay connected. Thus, the Government 2.0 Network Germany NPO was created a couple of weeks after the event. This gov20 network (www.gov20.de) is now event organiser of the next Gov20 camps in Germany. So far, I am the only microsoft member in this NPO, its open to everyone and an inspiring diverse crowd. I hope, Microsoft will be able to support this event in 2010 too, but like last year, it will be one of many sponsors and supporters.

Thus, I would definitely not say that Microsoft "conducted" the Berlin barcamp. We helped make it possible, and I certainly had a leading role as an individual, but now, its grown independent. Out of the first barcamp, a community evolved which keeps growing. We kind of ignited the fire, but now its just burning from itself.

We still take part, we still learn. But we don't dominate, nor conduct the event. Whoever was part of the organisational team last year or participated at the govcamp in Berlin itself, could see that with their own eyes.

I invite everybody interested to attent this years Berlin Barcamp too, it takes place at 30th Sept. and 1st Oct and will be in an even cooler location then last year - right at our most famous historic avenue Under den Linden number 1. The location is sponsored by Bertelsmann Foundation...

Come, join, and see yourself.
Thanks, Anke! What you describe is exactly what it looked like to someone following the event from across the Atlantic. Good look with your 2010 event!
Makes sense, Matt, I know people loved the Ottawa event. Just always odd to see large orgs popping up independent community sites that duplicate other efforts, with no apparent community-driven focus.
Go Microsoft! :)
Matt (Tim and Adriel)

Interesting discussion. I was looking for a key word here and you mentioned it in your response. The site is simply an attempt to connect these events together so that the conversations that happen at these camps can continue as long as citizens want them to.

Can I play a little devil's advocate here and ask you to elaborate on the citizens role in these events? I read the list of players, and while local, they represent government and technology. How do these camps identify, invite and engage the citizens in these locales to enable these ongoing conversations?

Having spent many years in this field called online government or e-government, particularly Gov 2.0, I've attended and participated in many, many related events. We continue to discuss this subject to the point that it’s become almost a chant; and I think that's where Adriel is going with his early comment.

Don't get me wrong, I'm always ready, if not one of the first, to jump into a discussion; and I bring a lot of passion to the table. But we’ve been at a turning point for some time and those folks who have been pushing Gov 2.0 from the public sector side, those govies in the trenches, continue to ask when we’re going to turn that corner (and I’m not ignoring the strides that have been made).

Then there is the private sector technologists like Microsoft and Ingage Networks (and thousands of others) that work in concert with these enablers. But since we started down this long road, we are still missing four key elements that prevent us from reaching home: Structure, Standards and Non-Proprietary. How does it operate? Does everyone’s work the same way? And can everyone adopt it and implement it regardless of other technology they use? After all, we’re talking technology solutions for democratic processes, not customer transactions.

The fourth element is human: citizens. They have to be a part of the solution development. Thus far, they are MIA, or on the receiving end of solutions they were not a part of visioning or building. I think you can divide Gov 2.0 into two tracks: technology and citizen adoption. I don’t think you can advance Gov 2.0 without addressing both concurrently.

So share some fresh thinking with us on these GovCamps, Matt. You’re Microsoft after all; one of the respected and key drivers from the technology side of this challenge. I’d welcome it and would love to hear it. Or, indulge me and let me share my thoughts on their structure and implementation. If not designed to accommodate development tracks and their respective stakeholders, the dialog will certainly continue, even advance, but what about reaching a solution?

I’ve said this before: If the citizen component is not part of the overall solution, then when all of this Gov 2.0 dust settles there will be a surplus of great technology tools and innovative processes but that no one outside of government will be using them.

Two disclosures: I used to work for Ingage Networks when they were Neighborhood America; and, I am a big fan of NASCIO, and worked with its executive director, Doug Robinson, when he and I were at NASA-TAP at UK.
Great point Daniel. All these "camps" risk becoming endless talkshops and self-celebrative events for Gov 2.0 experts. I doubt Mr and Mrs Citizen give a damn about camps, open data and apps for whatever.

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