Building a Movement: Will #gov20 and #opengov die?

I have been reading a few articles that circle around a similar topic. Adriel pens a critique of the use of Government 2.0 as tools alone, not necessarily driven by mission, @cheeky_geeky writes of the death of the goverati, @andreadimaio warns that much of this looks like an attempt to look cool, with cool toys and may not last as a result.

There is a convergence of thought happening right now. A discomfort with the state of things. An understanding, if not given a specific name, that we stand a t a decision point. One where we could push the world in a different direction, or one where we could all be investing money, effort and time on a fruitless exercise. It all depends on one thing at this point – execution.

We are at the point in this Government 2.0 thing where we must all make a decision. Do we push toward specific and measurable goals, actual large projects, concrete investment decisions, or not. Does this become what was once the promise of SOA in the tech world, or green economics in the enviro world, or financial reform currently facing many countries? Or, is this something fundamentally different, which is deserving of not only our trigger fingers on twitter to RT interesting topics, but rather a commitment to roll up our virtual sleeves, stand up and demand a new version of our world and push concrete and sustainable decisions behind it?

There are multiple very large potential futures at play:

1) New Civics – Adam Todhunter made me a fan of understanding context with regard to government and information flows to enable change. The major contextual shift that could come about with a push is restructuring how we think of our structured world. Do we identify ourselves as our geography dictates (I am an American) or as our familial structure dictates (a father and husband) or as my football allegiance lies (Manchester United or Green Bay Packers) or a cross-border group of interested parties attempting to build a notional world that leverages the power of government as a platform upon which a more sustainable world could live?

2) Direct Government – Is the notion of direct government closer to some form of reality? Do our tools lead us to being more empowered democratic consumers? Or does the onslaught of information cloud our ability to act in the civic and political world? Do we as a movement want to push hard in this direction and are we OK with the outcomes it will predict?

3) The Price of Change – And ultimately, are we willing to pay the price for real change? If we build massive public data infrastructures it will require upfront investments. From Governments, from the private sector, from citizens, from some perceived liberties…are we willing? If we take on a new idea of the state, are we willing to carve out the time for this new citizenship? Are we willing to work through the disruptions it will inevitably cause? Are we willing to push a power structure that doesn’t care to be pushed?

I am unsure of the answers the community will give to some of these questions. I do know one thing, we stand at a place that Ban Ki Moon calls the Doing Divide. There is an awful lot of talk happening about open government and Government 2.0 and change, but we stand right now with a smattering of cool tools. Will we drive entrepreneurial action as Mark asks for, will we use these tools for concrete policy outcomes as Adriel asks, will we survive the accurate criticisms from folks like Andrea to be able to drive real and actual investment decisions of national, local and regional governments across the globe?

I am certain that the only way for us to progress is to take those leaps. To act. Not to talk, but to do. And this comes from a deeply personal conviction about change.

I have preached about it for years but only this past year did I live it. Last year I weighed 260 pounds, my cholesterol and triglycerides were actually off the charts (unreadable). My blood pressure was similarly way too high I have been fat my whole life. Until last year, when I decided, to make the decision very personal. And to act. Not to talk about. Not to wonder about it. Not to research it. Not to RT about it. But to do it. And to do it every day.

I have shed 100 pounds in the last year. 18 inches off of my waist. My blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides is normal. I jog 2 miles every day. I eat whole foods on regular basis and I love my life again. Because of a personal conviction and a choice to actually do it. The one thing I control is my attitude and what I do each and every day. And that is an incredibly powerful thing to make actual change happen.

So now the time has come to see what we can do as the crowd. Can we turn our conviction into action? Can each of us decide to act? Can we use our tools as a means to an end? Can we accomplish concrete goals? Can we move the movement forward each and every day, even if it is by a very small step?

Related posts:

The following two tabs change content below.
Matt Miszewski has been a leader of incredible teams, that accomplished unbelievable goals - together. From rebuilding an enterprise technology strategy from the ground up as Chief Information Officer of the State of Wisconsin to driving a struggling global sales and marketing team to live beyond their potential and helping take their stock from $45/sh to over $110/sh, I have been honored to take on huge challenges and beat them by building collaborative and high performing teams. I was proud to be a regular speaker on Digital Realty's earnings call each quarter and being able to brief and advise the Board of Directors each quarter. Focusing on our shareholders needs while coupling that focus with the needs of our top customers was the combination the street was searching for and our increase in equity value proves the effort worthwhile. Our focus on total leasing costs, net present value of long term leases, closing the gap on cash performance and elimination of stagnant inventory helped to drive a stalled stock. Most proud of standing up a revenue engine that will be used for decades including a renewed global salesforce, inside sales expertise, demand generation focus, new global Partners and Alliances program, sales operations team and a heightened focus on connecting lead development to sales outcomes (including a new social marketing program, AR/PR, digital presence, brand identity refresh, SEO/SEM and a regular campaigning process). Combining decades of technology leadership with this commercial success creates an incredible package to unleash revenue and hack growth for companies from any industry out there.

29 Responses to “Building a Movement: Will #gov20 and #opengov die?”

  1. Justin Herman says:

    I think you have the right idea, and this work is in fact being done. But you don’t mention many of the people who are actually doing Open Government work, so I think your perspective will improve with looking not at the loudest voices but the most credible efforts. Pop Gov20, etc, is sure to fade because it was created as a marketing term – but the efforts of folks to aid the evolution of government has always existed, and always will.

    We could introduce you to some of the doers, and not the talkers, if you’d like – its not always a sexy process, or have a clever retweetable name like the laughable “goverati” but as sure as anything it exists and continues to improve our services. Perhaps just not in the soundbytes some would like to exploit it with.

    • Matt says:


      I totally agree with your points. I am an interesting mix of context myself.

      I have lived through efforts directly before, from running for office, running others campaigns and participation efforts, working for COngress, and being a State CIO who has always attempted to inspire the hard work of the folks you mention. I want desperately for this motion not to end like many movements I have seen in the past.

      And while I tweet way too much, I also try to hold policy makers to understand that instant tweetable context is not the ultimate goal of government, vibrant communities are. The movement we need to actually build does not center around tweetable moments, but long term policy creation and the building of new institutions to replace those which may have faltered over the past 3 decades.

      Please read my post as hopeful and not filled with cynacism. I meant it as a call for folks to stand up straight and to do it quickly. The passion is there, the fighters have always been there as you state and now the time has come to be more blatent about the need for movement.


      • Justin Herman says:

        Thank you, Matt – I certainly don’t see your take as cynical. Your words have been on the minds of many of us, and debate continues as to how things will progress once the buzz trade winds blow in and out of it… but they will progress none the less.

        So you ask, “Can we move the move ment forward each and every day, even if it is by a very small step?”

        The answer is yes we will, together – glad to have you on board for the journey.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alex Howard, Dominic Campbell, Steve Ressler, Martin Leyrer, Thomas Bjelkeman and others. Thomas Bjelkeman said: "To act. Not to talk, but to do." RT @dominiccampbell RT @mattmiszewski: Building a Movement / re #gov20 and #opengov [...]

  3. Matt,

    I for one do not see this as cynicism. Reality can hurt. But at the same time, while there may not be hundreds of companies or applications that can be named off the tip of ones tongue; there are more and more companies/apps popping up every day. Just because they have not made commercial success does not equal “movement dying.” To the opposite: I see more and more Governments getting interested in specific tools and applications and asking questions they never asked before. I agree with you that there needs to be a specific set of standards applied to make the movement jump to the next level. I called for this at the 2010 Gov20LA, and those who were in the audience and participating through our online stream will remember me stating the need for standards as a method for coalition building and for building the foundations of the nascent industry. We spent some time discussing the need for it, but it was a little too early for the roots to fully take effect. This is especially true at a time when we are still using different terms and can not agree on common frameworks across networks and platforms yet.

    • Matt says:

      Agreed Alan. I actually see the momentum under the sea, and I get excited about it. And as you know, political momentum needs to be sustained through a bit of, well, agitation :)

      So, the challenge for us all is to never accept the good work so far as enough. To use the critiques out there to drive us to do better, to dive deeper and to organize. Absolutely concur with the need to standardize at least the approach. Maybe some of the goals. And the framework through which local communities can grab the reins themselves and drive change long term.

      We are at the dawn of a potentially incredible world. The only enemy now would be either complacency or political winds blowing us off course. Rooting the effort in long term systemic things including investment structures (when does a government invest in service delivery, when in platform, how much and in what order) is what will help this effort live.

  4. Truden says:

    Greatings, ЎUf, me gustу! Tan clara y positiva.


  5. У вас только 1 сайт – “” и все ?

  6. Эмилия says:

    Красивый сайт мне понравился !

  7. Nicolas says:

    ЎGracias por el artнculo. Cada vez que quieres leer.


  8. Мира says:

    У меня есть проблема. У меня сайт учебной тематики про Рефераты и я хочу создать блог где будут собиратся новости с других блогов по рсс ленте.
    Итак – можно ли я буду брать у вас новости 1-3 в неделю если они новые. ? Аудитория будущего блога люди 13-22 лет.

  9. Keith Moore says:

    Change takes 50 years. It will take Open Government less than one fifth of the time to make the revolutionary change it is designed to make. However, Change and Gov 2.0 must be constant, progressive, and global, not just inclusive.

    OGTV intends to help advance this Change.

  10. Гений, прикованный к чиновничьему столу, должен умереть или сойти с ума, точно так же, как человек с могучим телосложением при сидячей жизни и скромном поведении умирает от апоплексического удара.

  11. Thom Rubel says:

    Interesting. I just came across this after posting something more basic to my blog yesterday, but I think we’re thinking along the same lines, Matt. If we become the owners of this vision, I think the receptive audience is coming into place and we won’t have to answer the same tired old questions that frustrate us.

  12. This is the perfect post and may be one that can be followed up to see how things go

    A comrade mailed this link the other day and I will be desperately waiting your next article. Keep on on the really good work.

  13. Allison Hornery says:

    Matt, thanks for this insightful and honest post. It summarises so many of the observations I’ve made of the last few years with the emergence of technology as a powerful accelerant in the public space. What’s clear to me is that the change at its most elemental is down to *people*.

    I don’t know that we are at an all-or-nothing crossroads. A wise person once told me that if you just keep leaning in the direction that you want to go, then you will find your way there. I think we are reaching the point where there are enough of us in different spheres of influence proactively leaning in the right direction – through our conversations, initiatives, blog posts, tweets and connections with each other – to make change inevitable.

    • Matt says:

      I believe we need a mixture of those who “lean” and those that “plot” (maybe plan is a better way to put it :) )

      My fear is that if we who advocate and speak and tweet feel that this is enuogh, we will see another deconstructed path of good intentions. The work you are doing in CivicTEC is exactly the combination I think we need. We need specific things thrust into the ether so that we can not just discuss the change, but become it. The CityCamps are a great start. Your CGLF work is a great start. Now we need others who think like us to propel us all up one more level. We need to grow beyond the comfort of those who agree and enter the fray with influencers with their hands on the levers of power.

      • Allison Hornery says:

        Thanks for the comment, Matt – I certainly take your point about needing to move beyond the echo chamber. I think it’s now about the leaners (and plottters!) being more deliberate and collaborative in our efforts move the influencers (political, practitioners, activists) our respective networks from the known to the unknown, and to connect leaders across sectors and interests, including those that aren’t currently in the Gov20 movement, but who nevertheless have a stake in its success.

  14. Dan Bevarly says:


    I applaud your passion and dedication. My mantra has been and continues to be if the citizen component is not part of the overall (technology) solution, then when all of this Gov 2.0 dust settles there will be a surplus of great technology tools and innovative processes but that no one outside of government will be using them.

    What I mean by that is there are forces at work that have affected our traditional form of democratic process that if adopted, technology can help facilitate, even enable. However, we will not realize the true benefits and impact of these technologies unless we address the underlying apathy and disenfranchised citizenry that exists.

    At the same time, communication and information technology has advanced with incredible speed and with the velocity that a bureaucratic institution (by design) such as our structure of government, simply cannot keep pace. Known for its incremental nature to respond, our governments and our governance processes cannot adapt to citizens’ changing preferences and expectations to new ways of sharing information and communicating, and certainly not like its private sector counterpart. Gaps that have steadily occurred over the last 40-50 years between government and citizens are made even wider (or seem that way) through advancing technology.

    You are right about being at a crossroads. And it may not necessarily be about adoption of the new technologies. It may be more about fundamentally changing the way we govern at the local, state and national levels. Generations with cradle-to-grave experience with these technologies may redefine government processes this nation has relied on for 225+ years based on our new capacity and abilities to utilize these technologies. There are so many avenues that can be selected –some good and some bad—to manage our democracy or even change it.

    I amplify upon the citizen component in this post: “Are we there yet?”

    • Matt says:


      Thanks for the post. Definitely agree that citizens *must* be the focus or we will simply spend a lot of money with little to nothing to show for it.

      Keep up the great work.


  15. David says:

    I’m not worried about “Gov 2.0″ or “Open Government” dying at all – at least as I define the overall concept (government using emerging web technologies and/or responding to a public envrionment in which those technologies are increasingly being used).

    Yes, the hype may die down. The catch words may fall from favour. But the activity will plug along. Because the essential drivers remain.

    Society isn’t backing away from these tools. Whatever the privacy concerns may be around Facebook, it’s not shedding users. People aren’t leaving their online news sources and rushing to subscribe once again to paper newspapers. Govenments can’t ignore this and deliver on their missions, and they don’t really have any long-term incentives to do so. Demographic patterns will make the necessity of governments adapting to an increasingly online public ever more urgent. As the shift from “broadcast” to “online” increasingly gets people used to being more “participants in conversations” (as online broadcasting is accompanied by comment conversations – at the very least – as well as more value added tagging and other forms of participation) and less “passive viewers” (sitting in front of the TV and absorbing) we can expect this to be reflected in how people approach government. Similarly, as people continue to see the benefits of broad actual (or potential) participation in open platforms, be they Wikipedia or Google Maps, they are going to want to see those benefits from government, too.

    On the government side, more and more governments are starting to levergage these tools internally, to improve collaboration and more effectively deliver on the demands they face. As the demographics change through retirement (there’s a big wave coming) and replacement, pressure to enable these tools for employees will increase. On the open data “government as a platform” side, fiscal pressures on government aren’t going to disappear any time soon. Governments are going to be looking to displace costs wherever they can and leveraging a society that increasingly wants to participate and contribute is going to look more and more attractive.

    We don’t need leaders to plot and plan for this to happen. It’ll happen with or without them. That’s the way the wind is blowing. What we need is people ready to bend with the wind. To help point the vessel in the direction the wind wants to push it.

    Or so it seems to me. Your mileage may vary.

  16. Mike Kondratick says:

    Matt, this is very thoughtful post. My response ultimately encompasses many of the others given already.

    I focus on building advocacy campaigns in my day job and, from that perspective, I actually think the gov 2.0 movement is great shape. The realities of our current economy, the advancement of technology and social networking tools, and political leadership at the federal level have combined to give the movement its start. Evangelists have clearly engaged.

    The fact that data has been made available in usable formats and for free has allowed the initial opportunity to develop for the movement to begin inching to a tipping point–and I do believe it’s really just begun (as exciting as all of the progress has been). The more tools and shiny apps that are developed cost-effectively and that can improve people’s everyday lives the more quickly gov 2.0 will move beyond the evangelist stage and into the mainstream. To that extent, I think there should be some coordinated focus on areas that are likely to have a bigger impact on people, i.e. community health data.

    I do worry about there being enough political leadership/courage at the state/local levels to push this process forward. Having politicians run on opengov platforms, publicize the progress, and speed the implementation once elected is huge–to me its the single largest need the movement has at present. Cuomo and Chafee’s victories are certainly a step in the right direction.

    To me more politicians driving adoption leads to more citizens exposed to new applications of data in a way that doesn’t require large, initial public sector engagement. To me, what really catalyzes the movement long term is when we can translate the new apps, the more efficient government, and the new ideas that are generated into new investments in bread-and-butter policy issues. Opengov needs to one day equal more jobs, more roads, more school funding, etc. When that happens, the worry about larger investments in data infrastructure become moot. (Yes, we may need those investments just to reach this point of efficiency–certainly a fair counter-argument.)

    And, FWIW, I don’t worry all that much about the citizen engagement issues. Engagement on opengov will likely be the same as it is for most policy/political issues: a smaller number of really engaged citizens will lead the effort supported by folks who are interested and willing to help around the edges. Technology will continue to make it easier for the slacktivist level folks to engage. I guess I don’t necessarily see why this model is detrimental to the ability of open gov to continue to flourish in the future.

    Thanks for the thought provoking material!

    • Matt says:


      sorry about the delay in getting this post approved (been fighting a spam attack and the travel right now made the delays worse).

      your post is dead on. much of the future is unfolding now and will start to organize itself. and we have a huge opportunity now to make sure that political leadership understands the issues. we need to make it politically agnostic and i think we have a real chance to push that right now. Cameron is embracing some of our ideals, Obama obviously does, we have support from multiple parties around the world. we need to galvenzie that strength and, as you say, publicize the heck out of the early wins to get the fly wheel going.

  17. Jose Luis (iusufr) says:

    Congratulations for this post. I agree with you at all. But I wonder if we’ve got the answer. We are living in a changing world where the only thing that never changes is money. Governments are step by step more linked to markets and they do not really decide their basic policies. Enpowering citizens is, in this context, a dream. So, I think, the answer belongs to internationals companies and to the stock markets. Are open government or govenment 2.0 profitable for this shadow power?

    Kinde regards.

    • Matt says:

      Jose Luis,

      I think that it is indeed profitable for the private sector. It requires creativity and alternative business models, which we are seeing develop today.

      Empowering citizens, as consumers, as a driving force in a private sector account, then the business folows. Windows entered the enterprise this way. Users told ICT managers to bring it in. The same will happen with Gov2.0.

  18. [...] “Sophomore slump for Open Government?”, comment thread of “What Gov 2.0 Needs Now”, “Will Gov 2.0 and Open Gov Die?”). Over the last year my colleagues and I at POCG have been striving to contextualize the Open [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>