What do words mean?

What is government 2.0/gov 2.0? How do we define it? Is it the same as open government? Is it about technology? Is it about culture? Is it a buzzword or marketing hook? Is it a word people throw around to seem smart and hip?

Well, I am not sure what the answer is to any of these and for the most part I don’t care. But I have talked to a few non-govies lately and they look at me blankly when I have used Gov 2.0 in conversations. So I found myself trying to explain it. So here is a thought on the definition of gov 2.0. How about democracy? How about what government is supposed to be?

My point here is not to define gov 2.0 or any other term we throw around. It is rather about how we talk and address the topic of gov 2.0 to the non-in coward. The people not on Govloop. People who don’t listen to Gov 2.0 Radio. People who do not subscribe to any gov 2.0 related list serves or forums.

My contracts professor in Law School once asked my classmates and I, what do words mean? A few my colleagues struggled in the law school tradition for a suitable answer. In the end, my professor looked at us wisely and said in his dry midwestern style, “what we say they mean”. It was a funny yet very true moment. If you don’t believe me, ask a lawyer to define consideration for you. (or click here).

Words matter, but understanding is more important. If we confuse our audience with jargon and buzzwords, then we fail. So perhaps, we should use plain and direct language to talk about our movement. If you have to use jargon, make your definition clear. But in the end, do not used jargon. A Colorado Supreme Court Justice once told me and a group of others, relying on jargon is lazy. So don’t be lazy when talking to people or when you write about our movement. Its to important. If it is hard. . . well all I can say is tough.

If you really insist on using all of the in terms and talk, well then go talk and share your ideas with someone else. Because the rest of us are busy doing and getting stuff done.

In the end, we all have good ideas we want to talk about, but innovation requires us to do something with those ideas. And right now our country and communities need us to execute on our good ideas.

So lets get to work and get stuff done. I’ll let you define stuff because you know the definition better than I do.


Note this was originally posted on my blog at http://sleepisoptional.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/what-do-words-mean/.

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