Posts in Category "Web 2.0"

April 12, 2010

DirectGouv: Social media meets Government 2.0 communications


Many government agencies are looking at ways to innovate with social media to increase transparency and participation between staff and the community. As I’ve expressed in the past through this blog and at various conferences, the real opportunity for public sector is to understand the characteristics of social media that make it so engaging and collaborative and infuse it into the core operations of government whether that is to deliver services, collect revenue or inform citizens.

One lesson from social media is the immediacy and richness of information that can be shared through digital channels. Blogs, online video sharing platforms and Twitter have demonstrated the power and desire by the public to share information quickly and easily.

8:29 AM Permalink
April 7, 2010

How engaging is your agency’s website?

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In case you missed it, GovTech and Adobe recently ran an eSeminar highlighting how government agencies are attacking the transparency challenge by providing key information to the public through some pretty engaging experiences. The recording is available here.

The presenters share specific examples of government websites and review how three departments have used Adobe technologies to make their sites more engaging. Examples include:

We look forward to more examples of engaging design coming out of the Design For America event in May.

UPDATE: To learn about the new features coming in CS5, register for the launch event on 4/12/2010

3:45 PM Permalink
March 26, 2010

Who said web conferencing is not rocket science??

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Sorry, but who can resist the cliche when you think of NASA? Bad jokes aside, I would love to call your attention to my latest discovery in my quest to highlight open government at work. A group of scientists from NASA’s Astrobiology Institute (NAI) came together to participate and collaborate in an event called the “Workshop Without Walls”.

The article offers some great insights from the participants and the organizers.

What I found to be most interesting is the comment from George Cody, co-organizer of the event, that he “actually came to be unaware of the conference as being at multiple venues.” Especially when considering ways to encourage and foster participation and collaboration, leveraging an “enabling technology” that fades into the background is ideal!

To often, collaboration technologies themselves become the center of attention, more often than not, in a “less than positive” way. Here are a couple things to consider:

  • Collaboration is for and about people – technology simply enables the experience
  • Becoming a participant should not require a great deal of effort
  • Eliminate burdensome downloads or installs, it should leverage tools they already have
  • It should work the way people work, it should not require training to use
  • It should go to where the people are, device, network, and platform independent

Knocking down these typical technology barriers can and will have a significant impact on the adoption and success of your program or event.

7:16 AM Permalink
March 23, 2010

I’ll bet you have an opinion on using PDF for Open Government

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So, unless you live completely off the grid (which, of course, means you won’t be reading this), I’m willing to bet at some point in time you’ve interacted with the government via a PDF. There, I said it.

PDF files are everywhere, I don’t really need to beat that drum. However, there is a drum that probably DOES need just a little beating regarding the usefulness of some existing PDF files to various consumers of government information. Mind you, I did NOT say the usefulness of PDF, that this standard is useful should not be in question. What should be in question is the way some people CREATE PDF files and for what purpose!

Based on a “long” 6 years of working for Adobe, I feel safe in saying that the ISO32000 standard (better known as PDF) is one of the more misunderstood formats in use on the web today. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear or read a comment that is simply wrong.

So, one might ask, how is it that such a widely used format can become so misunderstood at the same time? Of course, there are many contributing factors, but few more apparent than the ability for anyone to create a PDF and post it without regard to any best practices or an understanding of how that PDF can or may be used. Self-publishing, as great as it is, can and has created a whole new set of problems! But, I digress…..

The reason I’m writing this post today is to appeal to those who create and consume government information/data to join a discussion to help identify and articulate a set of best practices for using PDF. I started the discussion with the recognizable concern of making information available to people and machines.

If you have any interest in this topic, please join me on Govloop and participate in this discussion:

I’m looking forward to a productive and spirited conversation!

6:16 AM Permalink
March 18, 2010

Design For America

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Calling all designers and developers!

A little over a year ago, President Obama’s Open Government Initiative unleashed a movement to make government more transparent, participatory and collaborative. Government agencies have responded and made a wealth of data available, with more to come. But sometimes constituents need more than pure data. They want information that is relevant to them. There are many agencies who offer information in usable and engaging formats, but even more who could use some models of how to better present information.

Last week, Sunlight Labs kicked off Design for America – a contest with the sole purpose of reaching out to the designer and developer community to help make government more engaging. Adobe is proud to be the platinum sponsor of the event.

Design for America consists of seven categories ranging from data visualization to redesigning a .gov website. Each category carries a $5000 prize for the winner. Finalists will be showcased and winners will be announced at the Gov 2.0 Expo in May. For contest details, entry requirements, and eligibility limitations, please check out the contest site.

Get creative and show government the value of innovative design!

2:22 PM Permalink
March 5, 2010

Fed News Radio Industry Chatter: Adobe’s Rob Pinkerton

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Adobe’s Rob Pinkerton was in studio with Federal News Radio’s Francis Rose to discuss open government, transparency, and social media. Check out the below video from the interview (6 minutes). You can also listen to the full interview on the Federal News Radio web site.

3:52 PM Permalink
February 6, 2010

Innovations in citizen interactions in the most unusual places

It’s Saturday so let’s start off with a relatively obvious place where we have seen tremendous innovation in user interactions, media players. Across static photos, music and videos, there have been great strides in creating intuitive experiences that engage users to search, play and comment.


Take for example this BBC iPlayer. The BBC looked to this iPlayer to help them transform the world-wide on-demand TV space. It took BBC about 10 weeks to build the iPlayer and in its first 3 weeks of launch, there were 3.5m downloads. Currently, it accounts for 5 million views a day which is aobut 5% of the UK internet traffic.

These great participation rates are because from the start, the BBC considered the user central to how the rest of the system worked to deliver content to users. The iPlayer can be used by anyone across platforms and even if they are disconnected from the internet.

Okay, I probably haven’t told you anything you didn’t know already, except perhaps the tremendous adoption rate of the iPlayer. I was pretty impressed with when I heard the figures.

Any government agency would kill for these sorts of participation rates.

8:21 AM Permalink
February 3, 2010

When it comes to EHRs, design matters

I’ve been writing a lot about social media these days if you haven’t noticed.

It isn’t because I’m fascinated with the actual tools, many of them will have disappeared in the next couple of years. Rather, it is one of the most poignant examples of the incredible participation rates that great user design can induce. The possibilities of how this can transform government and key public issues have me mesmerized.

No public issue is as front and center these days as health care. Leland Berkwits, M.D. wrote into questioning the conclusions from a study conducted by a group of educators at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

The study was to answer the question: “Does the medical-school curriculum adequately prepare students to diagnose and treat patients using an electronic health record?”

The conclusion Dr. Berkwits questioned?

6:58 PM Permalink
February 2, 2010

Transforming Citizen Interactions with Lessons from Social Media

A couple of weeks ago, I presented at a seminar on the topic of “Transforming Citizen Interactions with Lessons from Social Media”.

If you weren’t able to make it out, have no fear, you can watch the video above and download a copy of the presentation here.

This particular version of the presentation has some innovative examples from US agencies. I have another version of this presentation with more international examples which I will also share in another post.

P.S. Thanks Heather for holding the video camera for the entire time.

10:52 PM Permalink
February 1, 2010

Applying the lessons of social media to Government services

As much as the social media is exciting on the technology front, I think the real impact it has is shifting the way we all think about technology from green screens to an enabler of the interactions we have with family, friends, co-workers and customers. Social media has shown that technology can be the foundation of friendly and easy-to-use applications that allows us to share ideas and information beyond the limitations of time and geographic locations.

Recently while in Washington, I was invited to speak with Don Goldberg, Partner at Qorvis Communications on a Focus Washington TechView episode to discuss the emergence of social media in government and how agencies are using newer technologies.

You can watch the video below. Here is a link to the entire article: Adobe Discusses Social Media and Government

The most important point I was trying to raise in this discussion is that although the new social media tools are very exciting, the real opportunity for government agencies is to take the lessons learned from social media and apply them to the core processes in government.

What does it matter if an agency has a Twitter account or a Facebook fan page if it is still hard for its citizens to find critical programs and enroll in them? How do we make enrolling in benefits as easy as it is these days to create and share a video on YouTube?

A case in point is a recent 60 Minutes profile of Veterans Affairs. According to the investigation, the form for applying for benefits is 23 pages long, on average 6 months to get an initial response, and the amount of paperwork generated in a case can span from one to several file-size boxes. How can lessons in social media help to transform this? I would imagine a veteran would hardly care about the VA having a Facebook fan page. Rather, they would want to see easier ways to interact with the VA that was directed to helping them receive eligible benefits faster.

In my next post, I’ll discuss some of the specific issues highlighted in the 60 Minutes coverage of the benefits backlog at Veteran Affairs. I’ll provide my perspective on how some of these issues may be improved with the pragmatic application of technology and the belief that our veterans deserve better.

7:34 PM Permalink