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Whither Web 1.0

Originally posted on Online Odyssey

With Gov2.0 LA days away where open gov, cloud computing, gov2gov collaboration and more will be discussed, I find myself increasingly, and ironically speaking and championing more and more Web 1.0.

Yes, it would seem that despite my Gov 2.0 attachments and engagements I am a Web 1.0 champion. Now, to profess, it is the 2.0 world that has my heart but my mind continues to play tricks and reminds me that the 1.0 foundation, albeit less ’sexy’ now, is one that has often been left unfinished.

In 1999, the Government of Canada launched its “Government On-line” (GOL) initiative supported by over $800 million over a six-year period. The intention was to create a:

“…service improvement initiative that will provide citizens and businesses with on-line access to the most commonly used Government of Canada information and transactional services via the Internet and in the official language of their choice.”

This is Web 1.0 in its simplest of iterations. I was a working in government web communications at this time. There were no experts, and if there were, finding them was no easy task. It was every person (for web teams were a rarity) for him or herself. Funding was in place; portals were developed; Common Look and Feel for government websites were born.

Canada was regarded as a leader in government online communications, accessibility, and web services. Those of us in government departments working in web communications were also grappling with how to use these new tools to communicate with our citizens. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Where were we? Over 6 years ago we were provided with clear, simple guidelines and checklists to guide Web evaluation, performance and client satisfaction among other things. Business planning, UX, public opinion research, analytics and evaluation, translation frameworks, CMS workflow, editorial planning and strategies – have we properly laid and nurtured these foundations? I believe many of us toiling away in the 2.0 world in government are experiencing frustrations not solely because of the new tools and associated fears, but because many of us are trying to build on a shaky, unfinished foundational layer.

Regardless of what is new, old, hot, traditional or proven, we cannot forge ahead without ensuring our starting point and the path behind us remain clear and maintained. I’m an avid user, fan and champion of the web 2.0 tools and, more importantly, the vast potential they possess to be game-changers in how we govern, communicate, influence and effect change.

Resource, maintain, and improve upon 1.0….this foundation is vital to the 2.0, 3.0 and citizen engagement movements.

And, if you’re not feeling my pain, then pass along the elixir!



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Andrew Krzmarzick

Hi Martha – Have you seen the latest results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Gov results. They essentially measure citizen satisfaction with government websites. In some ways, they bear out your point – that citizens are happy with Web 1.0! They like informational and transactional sites.

Yet this bodes well for Web 2.0 insofar as it reveals that citizens show up on websites and want to do something…they want to enter information, hit links, etc. They want it to be interactive.

Wondering if we can take the best of Web 1.0 and improve/weave it into Web 2.0 tools?

Martha McLean

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for providing that link – I’m keen to see the results but have to say I’m not surprised by the findings you note. Customer/client service need not be complicated – I hope! 😉

How to go back and retrofit things to the future – now there’s some work I’d love to see happening. If anyone knows of those projects, feel free to post links!!


Agreed. Gov 2.0 still doesn’t have the teeth of a $800 million, 6 year project (not that it will ever cost that much) but right not is still in an early stage often pre-budgets (find a few scraps) without a foundation like you said.