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Is It Time for #Gov20 to Become Just #Gov?

Three years ago, I used the #Gov20 hashtag for almost all the content I posted to Twitter. The community of government folks on Twitter was smaller and most of them were pushing the Government 2.0 movement forward, so the lion’s share of what we talked about centered on social media and the innovative use of technology. But that’s not true anymore.

With the rise of Open Government, some people began to use #opengov. In fact, you’d often see both tags in the same tweet, causing people to debate the difference between the two. Well, we’ve “hashed” over that topic enough and I don’t want to re-open it here.

My intention is to discuss a new reality – one that is both normal (it happens all the time with movements) and noteworthy (marks a stage of maturity). My sense is that we can explore that reality together through the following questions:

When you post to Twitter and it is not social media or technology-
related, what hashtag do you use? What should we use?

A bit more context: GovLoop just updated it’s Government-Related Twitter Hashtag Directory and released two new Twitter guides for government employees and organizations. Moreover, GovTwit announced it’s unfortunate demise a few weeks ago and Twitter just launched its @Gov handle.

With all of this government activity related to Twitter — coupled with my own new patterns and habits of posting — I’m realizing that there is no good way to have a conversation about general topics related to government on Twitter. So I’d like to ask the community if it’s time to be more intentional about how we communicate with one another in a public way on Twitter.

How do we want to have conversations among ourselves such that citizens can
watch a group of smart, committed public servants having key conversations…
and invite them to join that conversation in the process?

To me, this kind of shift just might be the clearest sign that #Gov20 has arrived.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Just a couple more thoughts here. I’m not suggesting that we’ve reached the death of “Gov 2.0” or “Open Gov.” That topic has already been explored ad nauseum here and there and everywhere. We’ll likely still need separate hashtags in government to talk about innovation and transparency with #gov20 and #opengov being established nomenclature. The movement is alive and wells, so please don’t misinterpret me on that point (though I will be offering a prediction for 2012 around those two initiatives in a subsequent post. This is the set for the spike… 😉

Maxine Teller

Good question to raise, Andy. I know that since the inception of the Gov 2.0 movement we’ve debated the “release” vernacular. If it doesn’t even make sense in web and software development (in which the development has evolved from release to agile), why should it be superimposed on things like government, health, etc.?

The “gov” part of the hashtag could, too, be debated. If our objective is to reconnect and engage citizens in the ownership and stewardship of their country’s policies, responsibilities and obligations, then perhaps the more appropriate hashtags would be #us — implying both U.S. and us….

Andrew Krzmarzick

Hey Maxine – Thanks for your response. As I mentioned to Alex Howard on Twitter, this is less about the iteration stage and more about designating a way to talk about non-tech, non-political stuff in government….and there’s just no good way.

When I took a look at how #gov is being used, it’s really more a way that citizens are talking about government…but could we claim that tag in a way that (a) allows us to talk to each other first and foremost about more general challenges and issues in government and (b) enables citizens to stumble upon and, ultimately, participate in them. But the primary question I have is: how do we generate critical mass to talk about and share our other issues on Twitter. Right now, #gov20 and #opengov might be the only / most populated tags for government on Twitter….but they really only capture about 5% of what’s happening in government as a whole.

Daniel Bevarly

Not yet. I think there’s a “two-for-one” benefit using #Gov20. Where #Gov typically is used to represent the institution, #Gov20 usually represents governance processes (or lack thereof) within that institution. My $.02.

Maxine Teller

Yes, I hear what you’re saying Andy, but citizens’ interest in what’s going on in government is almost like people being interested in “news” — there is so much happening that it’s only interesting and valuable when more narrowly focused. I don’t know if citizens care what’s going on in government; rather they care about their the status of THEIR tax return, the BRAC re: the military base in THEIR community, food recalls on foods THEY eat. Not sure the “firehose” approach to general gov info is either valuable or what people really want/need….

Andrew Krzmarzick

Realizing I might have framed this discussion the wrong way…my main question is really this one:

How does government talk about and share our other issues on Twitter beyond those things that we’d consider #gov20?