Chatting with fellow ALI conference attendees Andy Krzmarzick, Ari Herzog, Maxine Teller and John Stauffer after today’s sessions, I made an observation about this same event one year ago vs. today, plus a hypothesis about why this difference might be.
Observation: last year’s conference had an excited – almost giddy – optimistic energy about social media in government, with lots of feisty audience questions, interaction and buzz. Today’s session (and another social media for gov’t-wide workshop I attended last month) was far more subdued (despite some terrific and inspiring presentations), with fewer questions and lots of “we can’t even access social media tools at work – we’re blocked” comments.
Hypothesis: the pig is moving through the python. Let me explain…last year, my guess is that we saw mostly early adopters, pioneers, web 2.0 insurgents and evangelists presenting and attracted to this kind of event. This year, my guess is that we’re starting to see more mainstream folks, who are either curious and/or anxious about how to comply with the President’s Transparency Memo. Another guess is that the reality of what many would-be early adopters are up against (policy, naysayers, security obstacles, inertia, isolation) has had a year to play out and become more tangible.
If you’re attending this conference, what’s your take? – particularly if you attended last April…do you sense a shift? I could be completely off, so I’d love to hear what others think. And I don’t necessarily think my hypothesis – if it’s true – is a bad thing. When we move up the learning curve from unconsciously incompetent (e.g., clueless) to consciously incompetent (e.g., anxious), it’s a sign of growth. The key will be to keep climbing to consciously competent (e.g., effective) and beyond.