ARTS3091: What is Gov 2.0 – Transparent or social?

Government 2.0 really has an attractive ring to it – hallmarking a fresh, modern approach. But I’ve never really seen that idealist approach. What is Gov 2.0 and why are we upgrading from 1.0?

Gov 2.0 echoes the popular phrase web 2.0, and on the surface the idea seems the same but I have to question how deep that runs. We all understand web 2.0 – in short it is the social networking craze that has redefined how we interact with the Internet, and naturally Gov 2.0 suggests we should see similar changes in politics. Tim O’Reilly’s speech about Gov 2.0 (2010) is really insightful into the movement:

However if we look at the Australian Government’s Declaration of Open Government, it highlights that the “Central recommendation of the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s report was that the Australian Government makes a declaration of open government” (Aust Govt. 2010)”. Transparency is certainly a great initiative from the government but heralding it Gov 2.0 is a bit misleading – and that’s where I’ve been puzzled with this shift. The document continues by stating:

Citizen collaboration in policy and service delivery design will enhance the processes of government and improve the outcomes sought. Collaboration with citizens is to be enabled and encouraged (Aust Govt, 2010).

This highlights the place of web 2.0 social media in the Gov 2.0 initiative for transparency. Are the two the same? I don’t necessarily think so. They are similar but there is a subtle difference. Catherine Styles makes a point that, “What we need is a visualisation – a view that shows us government functions as a whole and enables us to explore the component parts” (2009).

So where does the key difference lie? Transparency opens up the Government to its citizens, whereas web 2.0 media encourages a two way conversation, an open collaboration. Call it a citizen government if you will – but there is still a hierarchy. And I’ve always been weary of the Gov 2.0 term because it can mistakenly suggest that transparency is seen through social media – through its citizen conversations – rather than of political structure. In any case Gov 2.0 is an interesting mark of change, for nothing else but its self declaration of technological determinism.



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