Member of the Week – Barry Everett

This week’s member of the week is Barry Everett, Web Infrastructure, Region 6, EPA. Since the start of GovLoop, Barry has continuously been posting interesting blogs, writing insightful comments, and teaching us about Virtual Worlds. I’ve always been a fan and wanted a chance to learn more about his story.

So here we go:

1) Give me a little background about your job and how you got into public service.

a) I started in computers in Austin, Texas in the 70’s and in 1988 moved to Dallas to get married and began my work with the EPA as a Computer specialist.

2) You are member #545 at GovLoop which is pretty early. How’d your hear about GovLoop?

I started in Ning networks in 2007, from connections in Second Life. The concept of combining many different Web 2.0 tools in one Content Management System, based on the Social Networking model was an epiphany. I joined several communities in Ning, and the usual networking threads brought me to GovLoop.

3) What’s your favorite part of GovLoop? What keeps on drawing you back?

It’s about the Collaboration, the Knowledge networking, and the people.

4) You’ve created the OpenGov21 group about the Open Government Directive on GovLoop, plus I see you’re pretty active on the OMB MAX OpenGov discussion of the initiative. What are your hopes the directive?

I am very proud of being a Fed, and a Geek. The people and technology I’ve connected with in the past 2 years, have re-kindled the spirit that us old geezers lost in ’63, ’68 and ’72. With 2008, that spirit and hope is again part of my motivation. The OpenGov initiative can help us re-shape the fabric of Government, and help make Government part of the Green.

5) I see you are a fed based in Dallas. There is this stereotype that all feds are in D.C., which is not true. What are the pros/cons of being a fed outside of DC?

The Cons are obvious to those of us outside the ‘beltway’: We were left out of many decisions and discussions within our agencies, and in general in the Federal Community. The Pros are those of any group operating outside the central organization: Resourcefulness, solving problems without full support, plus for some the protected ‘small pond’ atmosphere.

6) You have a cool blog “Green Hills of Earth.” How long have you been blogging? Any tips for new bloggers?

My blogging started before blogs took off, with a tribute site to our Australian Cattle Dog (http://ourbluedog.com) in 2003. The full tilt journey into Web 2.0 blogs began in 2007, with Green Hills, and our Catahoula Dog’s blog, Catahoula-Ville. The global networking for dog blogs is quite amazing. We have developed contacts from all over the world. The tip for new bloggers is the same as for new writers of any medium: Blog about what you know, and what you are interested in, and what you are passionate about. Make time to post to it. When a news story or other event sparks an idea, post it right away. You can write from scratch, or you can post a reference to an interesting article or media event. Just do it.

7) You are a University of Texas alum and live in Dallas. What do you think about GovLoop’s favorite TV show “Friday Night Lights”?

Well, I grew up in the Football soaked environs of small town Texas in the 60’s, and I guess the show is OK. I’m just not into it that much. It was 40 something years ago. Of course, some of us in Texas now see that the over emphasis on sports is not so good a thing.

8) You are quite active in Second Life. It seems like the buzz is dying done on Second Life but at the same time a lot of great discussions still seem to be happen. What’s your take on Second Life and its potential for gov’t use?

Second Life and other Virtual Worlds have tremendous potential for enabling collaboration for participants from different offices, and in fact from around the world. One of my projects investigating Web 2.0 and 3D attributes, has been to form and moderate a global group called Knowledge Networking. Initially started as a Second Life group, I scheduled and moderated meetings with members from all over the world. One meeting had folks from 8 different cities, 4 continents and 6 time zones. Not only does this remove the time delay in designing and scheduling meetings, it reduces cost, and the carbon footprint for meetings with national or global groups.

9) You are stuck on the elevator alone with Vivek Kundra and you are going to the 42nd floor. What do you tell him? What ideas do you pitch?

Two things. Remember that you have access to the greatest source of technology in the world, the United States Government. Impossible is not an option. Second, your hardest task will be to ensure that the policies developed percolate down through all layers of the agencies involved, not just the headquarters level. Set up Go Teams from detailed agency staffers to engage everyone in the process and to carry the honey back to the hive.

10) What’s the future of Knowledge Management? My take is a lot of the best web 2.0 tools are perfect for KM. But the term KM has a negative connotation to many from the 90s/early 2000s. Thoughts?

To me KM is not just conservation of experience, but also the organization of expertise, so that we can properly staff today’s complex tasks and agency wide projects. We must not only work smarter, we must organize smarter.

11) What are your Top 5 blogs I should be reading that I’m not?

They are all interesting, and there are millions of them. Just get on WordPress, Google or Fickr and pick a key word you’re curious about.

12) And finally tell us a little about yourself….hobbies, family, favorite singer, car, laptop?

My wife and I have one dog at a time, enjoy history, work around our house, selected TV, and are addicted to information. I like Heinlein, Asimov, WEB Griffin, Grisham, Patterson, Beatles, Stones, Zapellin, Tull, Tolkien, Kubrick, NASA, Senator Ralph Yarborough and Barack Obama.

It was great to feature Barry and get his insights. Keep an eye on him on GovLoop (and on OMB Max) as I think he’s got a good sense on the future of Gov 2.0.

Check out other members of the week here.

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Adriel Hampton

Great interview, guys. Barry, I really admire your energy and eternal optimism – that’s the spirit I want to keep as I pursue a long-term career in gov. I also like your fav authors!

Pam Broviak

Great questions! Barry, your life experiences in general and views about social media are great to hear. Thanks for sharing with us.

Karen Lee Davis

Great interview, thanks! Fav authors and fav musicians! (Always stick to one dog at a time, I always say…. don’t let them out number you!)

Did you see MuniGov20 is having their conference in SL 4/10/09? They have done it right by preparing the attendees with the offering of multiple orientation sessions so newbies can pick a convenient time and can learn to sit, fly, teleport, accept notes, etc., etc. Fabu! I just discovered them:

Scott Fraser

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Barry. I’m glad you were able to participate in the Connect4Environment community during EPA’s National Environmental Information Symposium last year. I hope you stay connected to those in HQ with your great ideas on Gov 2.0. I served as an emergency response contractor in R6 for several years in the 90s. I miss Texas.