Tech & The District » Government 2.0 Tech the way we see it: insights and musings on technology PR, policy and the District, from H&K’s D.C. Tech Team. Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:06:44 +0000 en hourly 1 Privacy and the Terminator Wed, 17 Mar 2010 21:58:42 +0000 duncanburns

Great piece today by Steve Lohr in the NY Times (A1, above the fold) on How Privacy Vanishes online. Though the concept of digital litter and eroding privacy expectations have been around for a while, and are perhaps fodder for some of our more technology-phobic friends, family and colleagues, the story points to what I think is likely to be a big new battleground in DC. At what point should the government step in online and protect us from ourselves?

They already do to some extent with other forms of content/communication like films and games with rating systems and phone lines with do not call registries, but in some ways these are incoming rather than outgoing communications where we are voluntarily (phishing aside) for the most part divulging what used to be considered personal and private.

Where should the FTC, Congress or states draw the line on what’s acceptable – balancing individual freedom to share with protecting those individuals in spite of themselves? Having been a victim of banking fraud, I personally don’t want anyone guessing my social security number, but perhaps I’m already at risk given what I’ve put out there.

It’s going to be interesting to see how new tech dynamos work with government to find that balance. I’m sure it’ll be a full and frank discussion to borrow some diplomatic speak, but perhaps the discussion in itself will help educate a broader swath of people about the risks of some of what they’re putting online.

For companies in this space, start communicating your point of view now if you aren’t already, and talk about the options you’re giving your customers, and the ways you’re protecting them. Given the Whac-A-Mole style of politics at time, I’m not sure how much longer online companies are going to be able to get away with an approach of “ask for forgiveness not permission” when it comes to privacy. Though Google and Facebook are two prominent examples of firms dealing with these issues, they won’t be the last and at least they’ve built up enough trust, brand recognition and goodwill to make adjustments without too much damage. Can we say that about most companies grappling with these issues?

Perhaps we all just need to go off the grid like John Connor…? 

Is this what we can expect if we share too much online?

Is this what we can expect if we share too much online?

]]> 1 Politicians on Twitter Mon, 08 Jun 2009 16:47:36 +0000 duncanburns Interesting piece from The Fix warning politicians away from Twitter. In terms of risk management, he makes some strong points, but I think that politicians, especially those who maybe have tough races or can’t raise money so easily will continue to use Twitter to drive interest in them. As night follows day, that means there will continue to be goofs. But maybe it’s also that a lot of politicians have younger, SM-savvy staffers who think/know this is an important channel for their boss to be on but either start their boss running before walking, or don’t have in place some of the simple processes one needs to avoid foot-in-mouth disease. Just a thought. Over time it’ll become less of an issue as politicians, and voters, become more comfortable with the technology and its error-count.

Personally, I think there’s always going to be an element of there but for the grace of…

What do you think?

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OMG… Social Tech Comes to State Department with New Innovation Adviser Mon, 06 Apr 2009 22:00:54 +0000 Sharla Lane Although we may not be expecting IRS letters to be sent via text message any time soon, the State Department acknowledged the importance of social networking with a new hire today.


Alec Ross, co-founder of One Economy, a nonprofit bringing technology to underprivileged communities, today assumes his role as senior adviser on innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Formerly serving under top technology adviser Julius Genachowski on the Obama Campaign, Ross is hopeful that tools such as Facebook, text messaging and YouTube can serve a critical role in promoting human rights and vibrant democracies, fostering development and enhancing the impact of smart power.


Currently residing in Baltimore, Md., and with a resume arguably unique to Washington, Ross is expected to bring an innovative approach to the use of technology in advancing the White House agenda.


Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang has more of the story here.

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FOSE 2009: For the people, by the people… Thu, 12 Mar 2009 19:56:13 +0000 Chad Torbin Although I attended Vivek Kundra’s keynote address this morning, the highlight for me was still Chris Anderson’s “The promise of Gov 2.0” keynote on day one of the conference – my original reason for going. Turns out Anderson is not only the award winning author of The Long Tail, but also holds a degree in physics from George Washington University which pretty much makes him a local.

While GW bars don’t do much for me, I would have gladly met Anderson on his home turf to underscore his uber-key message to the U.S. government – “meet us where we live.”

Here’s what Anderson had to say:

The Google Generation
The younger generations have grown up with Google and Facebook as their entry points to information. When we need information on a topic today, is Google not the first place we turn? If we accept this general principle, we must then ask ourselves why most government services are not optimized for Google. Government websites don’t use search engine optimization technology, they’re not searchable, etc. If it’s not in Google, it doesn’t exist.

Websites are poor communicators
The younger generation, and frankly the rest of us, wants the news to come to them. People don’t want/have time to go to a website and navigate their way to information. They want updates and news on their own terms – i.e. Twitter, RSR, email, Facebook updates, let them opt in and opt out to things. The idea of a one size fits all website doesn’t work anymore. A good example is one pushed by Vivek – a Twitter page for D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (dcra) to address public complaints and suggestions.

Feeling the Pressure to Change
Although it seems obvious for government to implement some of these changes, according to Anderson the barriers remain high – outmoded client/server software, security and privacy rules, procurement rules and more importantly lack of urgency/pressure. The private sector has the threat of competition driving companies to evolve with the times. The U.S. government has…its citizens? The Obama campaign had the right philosophy and approach to technology engagement, but it’s yet to be seen who can inspire actual government agencies to do the same.

In the end, I have a lot of faith that Obama and Vivek can bring about some much needed change in the way the government engages with the public. We’ve already seen some of this new form of engagement come to life through the and websites. The good news is that the bar is so low right now that if all they did for the next four years were these two sites, they’d already be ahead of the curve.

For those of you that might be thinking about attending FOSE next year, here’s some images to get you excited.

Paul Bart, FOSE cop

Paul Blart, FOSE cop

new sheriff in town

new sheriff in town

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