Measuring Gov 2.0…But First, Web 1.0 Analysis

In delivering workshops on Web 2.0 for government agencies and other key stakeholders, I ask audiences to imagine themselves walking up to a dazzling storefront. I ask them to envision peering through clear panes of glass to marvel at the merchandise – watches and widgets and watchamacallits galore. They turn their attention to the door, eager to enter the venue and explore the possibility of purchasing something they see…or just to engage the shop owner. However, they reach for the knob to find themselves locked out. The owner is standing inside, but he is not allowing anyone to enter. “But the sign says ‘open’,” the shopper protests. “Sorry,” the shopkeeper motions. “You can look, but…” We know how the interaction ends…or fails to begin. That’s Web 1.0.

Now imagine an African marketplace or a flea market not far from your home. People from all over have brought the things they’ve made in order to allow their customers to touch and trade and buy. Prices are negotiable and products are hand-crafted. That scene is more akin to Web 2.0, where the currency is content and the wares are ideas and information.

Many organizations have attempted to analyze the Web’s storefront model and, specifically, the websites of government agencies. Over the next few posts, I will summarize a few of the key studies and surveys in order to set the stage for a conversation that Ari Herzog and I will facilitate regarding Web 2.0 metrics at the Social Media for Government Conference in Washington, DC, on March 26. The four studies I will examine are:

Brookings Institution (Darrel M. West): “State and Federal Electronic Government in the United States 2008″

Foresee: E-Government Satisfaction Index

Forrester’s Benchmark Studies

OMB E-Government Initiative

When viewed collectively, the studies and surveys offer a sobering perspective and serve as a foundation for developing the metrics that will drive the implementation and evaluation of Gov 2.0. Let’s see what we can learn from them and move toward a methodology for measuring a more collaborative, interactive Internet.

Originally posted at the GenerationShift Blog.

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Profile Photo Steve Ressler

Great stuff Andy and looking forward to hearing more.

I also like to point out Chris Rasmussen’s double-standard of metrics:
When is the last time we measured the effectiveness of email? The effectiveness of meetings? The effectiveness of writing reports?

Or for media – they spend so much time worrying about the effectiveness of digital ads, etc. What about the effectiveness of print ads – much harder to measure?

So my general thought is measuring is good. But as I learned in graduate statistics – statistics can lie.

Profile Photo Andrew Krzmarzick

Thanks, Steve – as you’ll see over the next several posts, independent organizations are taking a look at how agencies have been using the Web to share information and that’s a good thing. How many of us do just a bit better or give a little more when we know someone is watching?

In terms of measuring, the bosses (or, at least, the CFO) always ask: what’s the ROI? what’s the business case? Invariably, these questions lead to requirements or proof that an expenditure of time and money delivered a tangible result.

Last thing: I have worked with a lot of non-profits and government-related over the last 10 years on proposals/applications for funding and the absolute best organizations are adept at developing, tracking and delivering on a set of clear goals and objectives as well as detailed work plans and logic models…which all lead to a more effective use of grant and contract dollars.

We owe it to taxpayers to make sure that their money is being well-spent on these social media projects. More than checking a box, let’s be sure that there is an obvious and demonstrable tie-back to the over-arching mission of a department or agency. That’s the role of measurement in my mind.

Profile Photo Chris Hoffman


I appreciate some of the distinction it attempts between “web 2.0” and “1.0” but the “only apparently open storefront” analog for web 1.0 is critically flawed in at least a couple of ways. Since the love affair with “web 2.0” has begun, critics from all corners have fomented a denigration of the advancements web 1.0 achieved.

For starters, “the interaction [didn’t] end” there or “fail to begin”. E-commerce, e-tailing, and online shopping are some of what made the internet go mainstream to begin with. Nor is two-way messaging, the sort of interaction analogized as “engag[ing] the shop owner” a “web 2.0” phenomenon. Instant messaging, even online support, has been around a lot longer than this buzzword we’re all trying to define.

Nothing in the dynamics of your “African market” was absent “web 1.0”; small boutique web sites flourished or at least sprang up where individuals could peddle their wares. They did not then, however, have the benefit of social computing platforms and viral marketing strategies enabled by the same tool set and richer set of interactions underlying “web 2.0”.

You make a fairly profound statement in saying “the currency is content and the wares are ideas and information”, but, no offense, the statement is just plain wrong. Your teeming masses, flooding the internet market place aren’t browsing for ideas and information. We don’t login to to buy the newest information blockbuster or hit up for to browse the list of New York Times Analytics Bestsellers. No, wares are still wares, ALONG with content, information, and ideas that are ALSO better available for purchase thanks to “web 2.0”.

The real power in “web 2.0” isn’t that it’s somehow transformed our materialism to informationism, but that it presents a powerful new set of conduits through which information and ideas become content or plain old wares through a (hopefully) more efficient and effective evolutionary life cycle. Ideas have more paths to market, more paths to realization in a tangible product, and are subject to (again, hopefully) better refinement enabled by the tools of “2.0”. Analogous to that, I suppose, one could say that imagining a rudimentary “African market” without any sort of computer technology underpinning, uniting, and informing market actors is “web 1.0”, whereas buttressing that same set of actors and behaviors with a technological environment that promotes advanced collaboration, refactoring, emergent intelligence, and social forces is “web 2.0”. Whether the store’s open or the shop keeper is available for comment has nothing to do with the distinction.

Forgive the somewhat lengthy reply or if any of the above strikes as overtly critical. I can’t help but dive headlong into any sort of thought experiment in the 2.0 space. You also caught me on a day when I’ve been researching several opinions on the difference between “1.0 and 2.0”, so take as many grains of salt along with what I’ve written as you feel necessary.


Profile Photo Andrew Krzmarzick

Hi Chris,

Wow – that’s quite an analysis. Several points of response:

1. You said, “E-commerce, e-tailing, and online shopping are some of what made the internet go mainstream…” You’re right. Actually, what you will learn in one of my subsequent posts is that visitors to government websites like the transaction-oriented options the best. They don’t want to stand in long lines at the DMV or elsewhere to renew their license or pay tickets. So you and I agree on the value of these facets of “Web 1.0.”

2. You say, “Nothing in the dynamics of your “African market” was absent “web 1.0″; small boutique web sites flourished or at least sprang up where individuals could peddle their wares.” Set aside these examples and focus on government websites. I am not talking about the Web in general. I am very specifically looking at Government use of the Web. To your point, however, the best early sites were those that agencies created beyond their home page…can’t think of any specific examples off the top of my head, but I’m sure other readers will chime in. or would be current examples.

3. Your third point: “You make a fairly profound statement in saying “the currency is content and the wares are ideas and information”, but, no offense, the statement is just plain wrong.” I’m reading the Cluetrain Manifesto for the first time. I have to keep reminding myself that it was written 10 years ago. The phenomena being described was probably true on the private side – you mention and – but it was definitely NOT the case in the public sector. When we’re talking government, ideas and information are the true currency as products and profits are not the end goal. Rather, it’s efficient services and effective transmission of messages. And when do Joe the Plumber and Sue the Seamstress have a voice other than every November…and the rare occasion when they write a letter or send an email to their elected officials? Web 2.0 is about creating a conversation that heretofore has not existed.

In a sense, I am re-stating what you said here:

The real power in “web 2.0” isn’t that it’s somehow transformed our materialism to informationism, but that it presents a powerful new set of conduits through which information and ideas become content or plain old wares through a (hopefully) more efficient and effective evolutionary life cycle.

I’d like to quote Dickens from Oliver Twist to describe the situation:

Then, came a loud knocking at the door, and then a hoarse murmur from such a multitude of angry voices as would have made the boldest quail.

“Help!” shrieked the boy in a voice that rent the air. “He’s here! Break down the door!”

“In the King’s name,” cried the voices without; and the hoarse cry arose again, but louder.

“Break down the door!” screamed the boy. “I tell you they’ll never open it. Run straight to the room where the light is. Break down the door!”

Strokes, thick and heavy, rattled upon the door and lower window-shutters as he ceased to speak, and a loud huzzah burst from the crowd; giving the listener, for the first time, some adequate idea of its immense extent.

You’re right. The general public have been enjoying the virtues of Web 1.0 via the private sector and their personal conversations across the Web…but the call for a continuous voice regarding the policies and services that they’re tax dollars buy is rising to a fever pitch. Web 2.0 is the conduit.

Profile Photo Daniel Bevarly

Web 1.0 – Direct, structured, one-to-one or one-to-many; usually closed beyond the sender and receiver. It’s symbolic to a game of pitch and catch.

Web 2.0 – Direct, indirect, random and deliberate; many-to-one, many-to-many; usually open to all with multiple senders and receivers. It’s symbolic to a bag of marbles that lost its bottom.

Profile Photo Chris Hoffman


All points well made. The only trouble I have in accepting some of them is that they – you comments – unlike the analogy in the original post draw a line between the public and private sector web, whereas the analogy decrees pretty plainly “that is web 1.0”, “that is more akin to web 2.0”, in the general sense.

What I think you’re describing, if I follow your responses to their point, is that what you’ve described as “web 1.0” above is what the government customer “got out” of the internet while the private sector was still on web 1.0 and what you describe as “web 2.0” is what the many stakeholders in the public sector hope to coalesce on the coattails of the greater “web 2.0” movement. Or I’ve missed the point, which I concede is wholly possible!

In either case, semantics are a you-know-what.

Profile Photo Andrew Krzmarzick

Dan – mind if use your analogy (if it’s acceptable to Chris, of course :-) ? You reminded me of my grandmother’s front sidewalk out on the farm in rural Minnesota…with my cousins….playing marbles…artificial chalk boundaries…that never held in the glass. Thank you for the image.

Chris – there’s a difference in how we interact on the Web today vs. five years ago vs. 10 years and beyond. i still think that we can categorize it broadly in terms of the experience of the website visitor…applied generally to both private and public sectors…narrowing our discussion here to government.

Profile Photo Chris Hoffman

Well, here I go being Mr. Bah-humbug or Captain Diction (take your pick), but I cringed at “random” and “bag of marbles that lost its bottom”. There’s nothing “random” about network interactions, social networks, collaboration, re-factored content, or any of the staples of web 2.0. That these things drive outcomes not necessarily intended by their prime mover doesn’t make them random; they’re more likely “emergent” in that sense. After all, to take Andrew’s point, if we reflect from the perspective of the website visitor, there’s nothing random about what I choose to contribute or change or explore or even purchase online. I have motives. I seek some avenue to express or quench them. And I act. Now, I might be the butterfly who flaps his wings over on, say, GovLoop, which somehow triggers a stormy effect all the way up to, say,, and though the outcome is wildly disproportionate to my original intentions or effort, the effects are no more random than my decision to type this comment. Nevertheless, it and the reactions it causes are web 2.0 in action.

There’s order, or at least rationale, to it all, even if that order is decentralized down to “human nature” on the part of the individual agents partcipating. So, long-winded tirade short, I recoil from the image of the bottom-losing marble bag because it makes this all sound like an accident, when we all know better. After all, by way of stretching the argument to its extreme case, at some point someone decided to enable that very first comment box on a blog post; he/she had reasons, pursued them, acted. The emergent result is you all have my rants to clutter up your posts.

By the way, so as not to be total contrarian… I will say that the pitch and catch analogy works for me on a fundamental level. ;n)

Profile Photo alex stobart


Measuring success is something that the NGO’s do very well and there is a great list:server here

“eCampaigning Practitioners List”

The sort of output you see is like this

” Last year we pulled together the following policy report – The Tiny Lives Charter – a cross-party call to tackle premature birth – online and via email lists.
The 20 contributors were working researchers, clinicians, nurses and CEOs and therefore getting them in one place was going to be impossible.
We also asked parents with direct personal experience of premature birth to be involved, for whom talking face to face about the deaths of their children, could also have been extremely traumatic.
Many of the contributors, particularly the parents, were found through online searches of forums although others were already known to the organisation (ie we had funded the research work of some).
We have subsequently used our own website, as previously discussed, to build cross-party support among MPs ( Members of UK Parliament ) for the key call of our campaign – namely a 10-yr National Research Strategy for premature birth – to supplement lobbying and other activity behind the scenes. We have also used it to engage the public in this regard as well. ”

It may be that accountability in NGO is superior to that in government, so $$ spend is tracked better ?