Editor’s Note: I’m currently on the slowest internet ever. Will link-up/tidy/edit post once I get a chance, but this is sort of timely
It takes me awhile, admittedly, to warm up to various communities. I can be very shy, I don’t have an in-depth knowledge of a specific area (my degree is in political theory), and I haven’t been in the #goc for very long. After finally figuring out how I can use Twitter in a limited way for professional purposes, I noticed this little event: #w2p. The criteria to attend was simple. Something along the lines of: “Do you know what Web 2.0 is? Great! You’re invited.”
I totally know what Web 2.0 is! (do I know how to do anything with it? Different question.)
Attending the event a few times now, I’ve had fascinating conversations with people. I get to learn about technology that I don’t really know much about, and see how other people work. I’m learning a bunch from communicators on how they are using technology/tools to actively engage with citizens. These conversations range from the technical to the theoretical, and all are fascinating. I am indebted to each person who has taken the time to explain to me what I imagine are simple tools/concepts.
Out of the many positive qualities that this community has, there are two that I truly appreciate: Open and Informal. I want to talk a little about why, for me, these qualities are so important.
I didn’t have to show credentials at the door. The event was open to those who know what Web 2.0 is. For me, this was putting into action what so many #goc ‘ers talk about — the fact that we are open to discussion, we’re not insular, and we’re interested in hearing a variety of viewpoints. As I’ve said before, we need to lead by example. This was very clearly doing so.
There seems to be some concern about advertisers coming in, or people trying to sell certain products. I can see the legitimacy behind this concern, and like in any open communities, there are ways of handling it, rather than just excluding people. As a friend pointed out, there seems to be one rule:
If you try to sell something, you’re out.
Outside of that, I can’t see a reason to exclude people. We don’t have a monopoly on knowledge, and sometimes outside perspectives can be incredibly valuable in challenging what it is that we’re doing. If we exist to serve Canadians, hearing feedback form those outside the #goc on how we might improve our services, seems like it would only improve our working context.
I didn’t have to show credentials at the door to get into the event. I could admit that I had limited knowledge of how computers work and not be shunned. Conversations sometimes surrounded work, sometimes broader issues on government, and sometimes around topics that *gasp* had nothing to do with work at all!
It’s fluid and it’s organic. Conversations happen naturally, rather than limited to specific topics.
Again, this is important for me, as it is yet another example of this community leading by example. Rather than being stuck in a hierarchy where orders are handed down, the community develops naturally. Needless formality isn’t imposed, and everyone can bring their ideas to the table. This environment has taught be more than just about Web 2.0 tools, but also about the environments that exist in different departments, people’s thoughts on the role of creativity in government, etc.
I haven’t articulated how much I appreciate this community in the #goc. It has served, and I hope it continues to serve, as a shining example of what is right with government. I suppose it probably is my theoretical background that makes me appreciate what this community is actually demonstrating (and hopefully will continue to demonstrate).
So, to the #w2p Community, a heartfelt thanks.