Photo: Iowa CIO John Gillispie 

Although questions about its veracity persist, the phenomenon known as Web 2.0 continues to command serious attention by analysts and insiders across all sectors, including government. In an attempt to get a better grasp on how government ought to operate in a Web 2.0 world, the National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council (eC3), a consortium of leaders from the public and private sectors, recently held its 2007 symposium titled Government in the Age of YouTube. On Dec. 4, 2007, eC3 released an executive summary of the symposium, created with input from symposium participants. Contributors included high-level government officials, private-sector technology executives and other thought leaders.

The phrase "Web 2.0" was coined in 2004 at the O'Reilly Media Conference and since then, the term has been assigned myriad definitions. Some say Web 2.0 is a new generation of Web sites that foster user collaboration, creativity and connectivity, citing sites such as MySpace, Flickr, Wikipedia and YouTube. Others contend that Web 2.0 is little more than the natural progression of Web technology. There is also a contingent that condemns Web 2.0 as nothing but a clever marketing ploy that has already suckered a good number of people.

Operating under the supposition that Web 2.0 is indeed a reality, the eC3 symposium asked fundamental questions such as how can government use Web 2.0 technologies and how will Web 2.0 affect government? The consensus seems to be that Web 2.0 can help government enhance its existing relationship with citizens.

"This whole suite of tools is far more participatory in its nature," said Iowa CIO John Gillispie. "So clearly getting more participation by citizens with their government is an objective that is very worthwhile."

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Chad Vander Veen  | 

Chad Vander Veen is the former editor of FutureStructure.