A Canadian discussion on how to use, improve, and share within the larger GovLoop Community (but open to everyone!).
A great place to start when looking to connect with other Canadian Civil Servants.
September 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm #81417
Before we all go frittering away precious cycles working on logos, banners, skins etc (no offense to those that have started doing this, i'm guilty too [was looking for ning technical docs re: customizing]) don't we have to have a real honest discussion about why should we even do such a thing?
What's the point? Why would we need a "north" or "Canadian" version of govloop? Heck I'm not totally sold on govloop (and the more I use this discussion system the less i like it) or Ning at all, but it's already here and doing the job we're all talking about (i think), so what's the reason not just using the tools as they currently exist. Surely it can't be just because of the american capitol building in the header...
September 24, 2009 at 5:14 pm #81437
Actually, what they've done is create a group within govloop, rather than a new version. That's more sustainable, allows for interaction effects, and allows for "side/Canadian" discussions where appropriate.
Ning may not be perfect, but what system is? The most important thing is the level and quality of the discussion, which seems quite high here.
The other advantage, that I can see, is that it is outside of government (provincial or federal) and thus isn't entangled in a bunch of rules that are meant -- quite reasonably -- to govern the public face of government. This is more like a chat in the pub between friends/colleagues. And, as we all know, that's where advances can be made... some of which may eventually find there way into the public face of government.
September 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm #81435
This was asked on OPSpedia, too. I thought I'd share my answer to that question here as it seems relevant to the discussion.
Specifically, what was asked was:
1. Is it easy to join govloop? 1a. Are we worried out our info on American servers (subject to US PATRIOT Act, etc.)? 1b. Are we worried about losing the value of including our American colleagues in our discussions? 1c. Do we need to re-create the wheel?
2. Do we need yet another level of social networking (beyond OPSpedia, GCpedia, etc.)? 2a. Can't we just connect these workplace social networks?
1. Yes, it’s easy.
1a. It’sa network on the Ning platform. These concerns don’t seem to be keeping Canadians from signing up to Facebook. They don’t prevent our government from using Google. I don’t think it is too much of a concern. Treat it as a place for low sensitivity material. We shouldn’t be posting health records to this sort of collaboration space, wherever it is hosted.
1b. I think it is something to think about. Along that, if we want to collaborate with colleagues from other countries, do we want to create a profile in a social network for each. Does that make sense?
1c. That’s the question, isn’t it?
2. Answering a question with a couple of questions. Govloop is not a government-owned site. It is run privately by Steve Ressler in his spare time. Is there value in an “unaffiliated” network? We can participate in govloop in our spare time as private citizens who are civil servants. When we participate in OPSpedia, we are inherently doing so as OPS employees. Is there value in a social network for civil servants that we participate in not as employees?
2a. There is certainly the intent to do this between OPSpedia and GCpedia sometime in the future. I expect we’ll want to extend that to other jurisdictions as well. It’s in the future. How far, I couldn’t say.
September 25, 2009 at 2:20 pm #81433
Might be worth re-reading Ressler's thoughts back here from 2008:
GovLoop is a social network that connects the government community including federal, state, and local government workers, professors and students interested in public policy, and government consultants. In only a couple months, it’s grown to over 800 members and the use of the site has been very interesting. I see government employees connecting with people they would never have met and asking questions such as how to use social media and still meet government reporting requirements or how to recruit the Net-Gen to government. In another case, I saw a master’s student in Iowa connecting with the government program manager in D.C. on the topic related to his thesis. Members have started to blog on their own sharing their wisdom on everything from how to survive meeting to climbing the career ladder and finding the best training classes.
September 25, 2009 at 7:18 pm #81431
GCpedia and OSpedia may be great, but as a member of the BC Public Service, I can't see them. Part of the goal of GovLoopNorth is the creation of a de-siloed community of Canadian Public Servants to meet common goals. While lofty, here's a practical business win for such a move - if I use MediaWiki for something and am having an issue getting instructions to display in both official languages, having a common environment where I could post that question, and have that discussion, with it's specific relevance to Goverment use of MediaWiki, and someone else has already solved that issue, then I've saved time and money by finding that information. It's about creating a bigger pond so we can all share resources and work collaboratively, with greater efficacy. At the end of the day, many of us serve literally the same people; Canadians. Don't we owe it to them to do our work in the best way possible?
September 26, 2009 at 2:01 pm #81429
The more I think about this the more I think that we should stay within govloop, and in fact we should drop the "north" altogether (or any other sub-naming convention). Let's just help build govloop usage in Canada.
That being said I think building a skin that we can call our own is a nice to have, not a must have as it technically doesn't impede functionality, but may impede adoption. I am going to ask govloop if we can have access to one of the templates and modify it so that if users wish to invoke it they may. I doubt it would be that difficult since right now, any user can completely customize the look/colours and even header of their page by accessing this page: https://www.govloop.com/profiles/appearance/edit. At its core the skin issue is simply one of user preferences, so why not give Canadian govloopers a high quality choice in this regard.
FYI more info on Ning templates here.
September 28, 2009 at 2:59 pm #81427
That seems like the best course of action, I'd be happy to use a high-quality canadianized skin of govloop if one were available, but I don't think we should stress out too much if it doesn't materialize.
With that said, I like govloopnorth as a group, but i think we should take the name to heart and try to get representatives from other northern countries on here, and certainly work to make sure we get representatives from our own northern communities here 🙂
September 28, 2009 at 3:38 pm #81425
I am in the middle of trying to arrange the skin w/Govloop and James Ferris has committed to taking a look at the CSS. I think it will be important for govloop to allow public servants from all countries to develop/provide their own skins/templates as the community grows.
(I also love this group and think we should continue to drive people to it)
September 28, 2009 at 4:10 pm #81423
It is possible, to be honest I am not that familiar w/how to administer a Ning site. If anyone has any expertise in this area it would be helpful.
September 28, 2009 at 8:19 pm #81421
An excellent question -- why do we need or want such a thing. We are excited by the possibilities, and perhaps that's why we want to get involved in using these kinds of tools. But there is still quite a gap between what we imagine we could do with these new tools for connecting (people and information) and actually using them to collaborate and create and contribute to our actual work.
We are all looking for better ways of working and there is much promise that this kind of a website can help us do that. Would this specific group help us to work better? It may or may not -- people will use it if they see value in it.
October 7, 2009 at 3:43 am #81419
Darren - I see the value of creating a unique skin/banner/logo in helping understand the space. When you visit a profile page using a "Canadianized" banner, you immediately know that the person is from Canada, without having to expend time looking for that line in their profile that says so. (The search software should be able to do that for us)
As complexity grows in these online networks, we need to help ourselves make sense of things easily. Canadians, Americans, New Zealanders, etc, all bring unique perspectives to GovLoop so it makes sense to graphically differentiate somewhat between the representatives from various governments and countries.
I see it as an issue of branding our unique perspectives so we can quickly learn to make sense of them.
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