Puplic Sphere 2 – Gov2.0

Yesterday I took part in the second Public Sphere event run by Australian Senator Kate Lundy. I’ve put together and aggregate of the blog posts I wrote about it here.

I promised I would blog about my Public Sphere experience tonight and I’ll do my best. However brain is a tad fried so be gentle.

Woke up this morning at 5 o’clock. Had organised a lift down and back with James Dellow (also known as chieftech on twitter). He turned up about quarter to six and we headed off into the fog. Turns out that I haven’t lost the knack for falling asleep during long car trips.

Anyway, we arrived in Canberra at about 8:30 and met up with Reem Abdelatey and Diana Mounter from the LGSA as well as Nathanael and a host of people I had only met on twitter. The first thought on everyones mind was “Coffee” (except Diana, who was thinking tea). However there was much sadness as we realised that the cafeteria was closed, and would remain closed until 9:30.

After that we were shown to the main committee room, where there was conference coffee on hand. It would do.

As the event started the room was buzzing. The first Public Sphere had whet the appetite and Public Sphere 2 wasn’t going to disappoint.

I really like the format of the Public Sphere events. 15 minutes per talk means you get to pack in a lot of talks and the frequent breaks meant that we had time to absorb more information than if we’d gone with the standard morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea model. We did start to run over time however some presenters took a bullet and reduced the length of their talks from 15 to 5 minutes.

My own talk went better than I thought. People were receptive to the idea of OOOG and I had some good discussions about how the proposed OOOG Survey could be done.

I’ll put more up about the OOOG survey tomorrow, I’m shattered right now.

and installment 2:

Last night I posted my immediate thoughts about the Public Sphere event. However in my exhausted state I managed to miss the big announcement of the day – the launch of the governments Gov2.0 Taskforce.

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and new Minister of State (read Minister without portfolio) Ludwig announced the creation of a 15 member Taskforce with the following Terms of Reference:

The Government 2.0 Taskforce (‘Taskforce’) will advise and assist the Government to:

* make government information more accessible and usable — to establish a pro-disclosure culture around non-sensitive public sector information;
* make government more consultative, participatory and transparent — to maximise the extent to which government utilises the views, knowledge and resources of the general community;
* build a culture of online innovation within Government — to ensure that government is receptive to the possibilities created by new collaborative technologies and uses them to advance its ambition to continually improve the way it operates;
* promote collaboration across agencies with respect to online and information initiatives — to ensure that efficiencies, innovations, knowledge and enthusiasm are shared on a platform of open standards; and
* identify and/or trial initiatives that may achieve or demonstrate how to accomplish the above objectives.

It’s a pretty big ask and I hope they can come up with the goods.

To be honest however, I’m going to be reserving judgment on the new task force until I what the political masters do with the recommendations.

Some of the Speakers I liked:

I’m going to mention some of the speakers that I liked:

Lynelle Briggs: Lynelle Briggs is the APS Commissioner and spoke on the challanges that face the public service in the brave new Gov2.0 enabled world. Cultural change within the Public Service is not going to be pretty I think, but it’s going to have to happen to help further the development of Australian Gov2.0

Reem Abdelaty and Diana Mounter: Reem and Diana were there as the Local Government Representatives for the day I guess. For Reem especially Gov2.0 is something that needs to be looked at after the infrastructure is built for her clients. Representing as she does 50 something rural and regional councils she made the point very well that for them, the emphasis is on infrastructure before the services can be built.

James Dellow (and no not because he gave me a lift): James’ talk brought up an interesting point. In a room full of the choir so to speak, we need to stop every now and then and really look at whether “Gov2.0” really is the best tool for the job.

Raul Vera and Nerida Hart: Both of these speakers brought real world examples of effective Gov2.0 services to the conference. Raul as Geospatial guy from Google and Nerida from the soon to be closed down Land and Water Authority.

These are just some of the speakers that stood out on the day, and by no means should be taken as a bad reflection on those who aren’t listed.

So thanks to everyone who took part, thanks to Senator Lundy for letting me speak for a second time (first time in person) and thanks to Pia for taking her passion for Openness (and manic energy, I don’t think this woman ever stops) and translating it into the Government sphere.

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Interesting about the Australia Gov 2.0 Taskforce. Sounds like there is a lot of good energy brewing and hopefully some progress will be made. That’s always the trick with taskforce – talk vs action – but it’s a great step. Sounds like the goals of the taskforce tie in well with a lot of themes being echoed in the U.S. Thanks for the post!

James Purser

I’m cautiously optimistic about the Taskforce. Yay for setting it up, just hoping it doesn’t meet the same fate as other Government Taskforces.

James Purser

Hi Kerry,

Yah, I think a healthy dose of scepticism is always a good thing when dealing with things like Gov2.0 and various announcements. I even try and apply this to my own work, to make sure I’m not just drinking of the koolaid.

Stephen Collins

I think the comments regarding Twitter as utility are (nearly) correct. At cerain historical points and at times, it and other networks are reaching utility importance and we would be troubled if they came down.

But before we consider things like Twitter essential, we need to provide utility grade connectivity – alongside water, electricity and telephones.

Des Walsh

@ Kerry Webb as the speaker who referenced the news item about the US State Dept I’m surprised if I used words that gave the impression that Twitter is “essential” in some absolute sense, e.g. in comparison with food or water. The point I was endeavouring to make, and which I think most people who were listening would have got, was that it was interesting that, as I understood, the State Department was getting info from Twitter that it wasn’t getting from elsewhere. The video of the event is not up yet – it’s promised today – but even if I did use the word “essential” I am confident I did so in a relative sense. Straw man, mate.

James Purser

Context is everything isn’t it. At the time the State Department declared Twitter “too essential” to fail they weren’t talking about food and shelter, but rather its ability to inform and co-ordinate, and in this context, twitter was the tool of choice for informing the wider world of the goings on in Tehran.

James Purser


For the state department, Twitter was essential enough to their requirements that they stepped in to request that planned maintenance be postponed until the Iranian situation settled down. No one ever suggested that twitter was a basic human right such as food,shelter or safety from harm.