Monopolies, Gov 2.0 and Community.

It starts. I have been writing about fear driving much of the reactive decision making around the Government 2.0 and “Gov 2.0″ movement for a while now. Fear is most evidenced when the biggest players make monopolistic moves just because, well they can. They are afraid of the crowd at the gates with the apps, the platforms, the ideas and the innovations. This fear has been bubbling around the surface of the Gov 2.0 movement, yet rarely mentioned or discussed openly.

Yes, this is a total clash of cultures. The new way versus the old. The entrenched powers versus the upstarts. Truly David and Goliath proportions. Deal with it. Get over it. But trying to push out the young companies, many that are boot strapped by hard working entrepreneurs is just, well, lame.

Government 2.0 is but a tiny shadow of the famed Web 2.0 in terms of size and sheer media power, not to mention search engine inquiries.  But it sure must be growing as evidenced by the monopolistic companies that are already trying to take over and push out innovators and entrepreneurs at the expense of Open Government and at the expense of transparency. The industry must surely be growing for the Giants amongst us to be defensively acting aggressively in the marketplace.

In the fall of 2009, I announced I was starting #Gov20LA – and immediately came under attack from all quarters of the #gov20 space. Everything from “why would I do something like that in Los Angeles” to ” it was not really a camp” to this wonderful blog item and this followup. Plus lots of stuff I won’t blog or repeat in case my Mom reads this. O’Reilly Media’s Alex Howard, @digiphile was at the First Gov20LA in February of 2010. Here was his take. All of which shows what happens when the COMMUNITY is actually involved. Hello people, Gov20LA was open and transparent from Day one. That is what our community demands, and that is what we delivered. On a live stream to boot. Take the Community out, and you just lost your best ideas and dialog.

In the past year I have been approached by numerous Federal Agencies about maybe, possibly providing some free advice. I have seen Google embed itself so thoroughly that their logo is now part and parcel on many Federal U.S. Government websites. It is as if the term Government 2.0 or “Gov 2.0″ is somehow being mistaken for “Steal our ideas, Please.”  Open Government does not equal Idea Theft. Ideas are valuable commodities. Open Source does not mean open for stealing.

Now Microsoft is getting back into the big company act.

This clever little website was dropped onto the Government 2.0 community this week:

http://www.govcamps.org

No Transparency as to who really runs it.

Not much information. However here is the copyright  information for the site at the very bottom:

© 2010 MSGovCamp. All rights reserved. A solution by INgage Networks.”

Odd thing too, Microsoft has been a major sponsor of most of the Gov 2.0 events. So does this mean they want to push everyone else out? Or is this an attempt to push their new platform? Or is it just an attempt to claim some virtual real estate? I can only imagine the effect on Bar Camps, Un Conferences and independent efforts this will have. For the Record, Microsoft was a “Gold Sponsor” of Gov20LA, so I am not just speaking from some place of wishing they had been.

Curiously more, the twitter stream has been mostly silent about this. The #gov20 search barely reflects any conversation about this.

It took Dominic Campbell in London to tweet it and bring it to my attention.

I for one see reason for concern, on many levels. So where is the concern from the Open Source and Open Gov and Bar Camp communities? Is anyone the slightest bit concerned that the largest player in the the space is now trying to consolidate even diverse events? My reasons for starting Gov20LA still stand, and in fact are now even stronger.

I look forward to Gov20LA 2011 this coming February.

UPDATE: AS OF JUNE 23, 2010 THE SITE IS NO LONGER ONLINE AND IS INDEED A HOLDER PAGE.

Follow Alan W. Silberberg on Twitter


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41 thoughts on “Monopolies, Gov 2.0 and Community.

  1. Thanks, Alan. When I read the title of your post, I didn’t think “Microsoft”…I thought:

    * Expert Labs
    * Apps.gov
    * Craig Newmark
    * MacArthur Foundation
    * Office of Science & Technology Policy
    * Sunlight Labs
    *OReilly Media

    All terrific organizations with very talented staffs (I work with several), but why isn’t anybody calling into question their saturation–and connectivity to each other–in this realm? If we’re going to speak honestly about this issue, we ought to examine this particular point, no?

    • Thank you and you make some great points. I agree, all great people. I am not calling specific people out on this, rather trying to re-frame the conversation (again) to something really meaningful.

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  3. I actually attended and participated in Canada GovCamp. Further my firm helped in spreading the word about the GovCamp unconference across Canada, as the host of a live streaming show of the event, and I can say Alan, you’ve missed the mark here unfortunately.

    All Open Gov evangelists INCLUDING Microsoft would love it if IBM, Oracle or other large company other than the ones listed above would step up, the reality they’re not. My Microsoft contact has stated several times they’d welcome these types of collaborative opportunities but the others aren’t as of yet really stepping up. Your post should be about why the others are absent, not why only the above brands are involved…

    Gov 2 is now at the sustainability stage in many ways for several at the muni and state level. Thanks to the companies listed above (not solely) and their direct support we can state that.

    NOTHING has been stolen by Microsoft through their efforts to expand the Gov2.0 dialogue beyond any one country. And a true Gov2 evangelist would look for collaborative opportunities everywhere. I understand your reaction given that you haven’t actually attended nor spoken with a top level exec at the national level. These guys are very sensitive to talking product and they didn’t at Canada GovCamp, quite the opposite. The goal here is to get as many involved in learning about what needs to be done as is possible.

    Watch the GovCamp event here for yourself: http://fusedlogic.tv/events/govcamp/

    Also, the GovCamp concept is a modified version of ChangeCamp shown here. http://changecamp.ca/

    I could offer many positive posts and discussion points generated as a result of this effort by Microsoft and CIPS. You’re absolutely on the wrong side of this one…you want more background on this feel free to contact me directly…I have hours of interview material with a national level Microsoft executive on the record that’s making it into my book on Gov2.

    I’m not deliberately attempting to make you look foolish just bring to light the reality from first hand experience.

    • Thank you for your comments. My statements stand though. My opinion of what I see. Congrats on the continued success with your events. I wrote this to make sure that events like yours and Gov20LA and so many others do not just get swallowed up. Unfortunately, I will disagree with your assessment of sponsors. We had over 20 companies sponsor Gov20LA, and many were big players. As for “making me look foolish” well, I guess that is in the eye of the beholder, eh?

  4. Alan, I was only suggesting that there is definitely more support here than you’re giving Microsoft credit for. I’d like to see you continue to get the word out at events without the companies above doing much of the heavy lifting…IF Microsoft or other sponsor of Gov2LA was dominating the conversation regarding product I would support your position. Did they? They didn’t in Ottawa.

    I take your message to suggest that Microsoft and the others should probably remove their financial support altogether from this space. I was being honest in saying that I wasn’t attempting to make you look foolish through my comments only offer another first hand account. Now after the fact that we’ve had the discussion you stand by your post then that’s fine and certainly your right.

    I’ll continue to support and appreciate the help sponsors like Microsoft and others are putting forward, until Alan Silberberg starts paying the bills and then I’ll support you.

    • May I be corrected if I’m wrong, but I think Walter that the point trying to be made is that there is a shift going on from contribution and support to a “{Insert Business} Presents: Gov20!” mentality, which we have long tried to mitigate. I’m sure you see this distinction. No one turns away a partner and collaborator – but we must be far more selective of self-appointed leaders.

  5. As someone who has been to a #Gov20 event or two, avoided a few others due to reasons elaborated upon in this post, made the cross-country trip out as a planning committee member of Gov20 Camp LA and there did my share of responding to corporate backlash from one proxy who wasn’t even within three time zones of the event, I can say this – ‘inevitability.’

    We’ve long discussed the opportunistic lure of technical modernization in Washington, D.C. culture. Talking points have seemingly focused on the government as being an innovation Junior Varsity league of bureaucratic lightweights who lacked the vision and ambition to work in Silicon Valley or New York, born-to-be stalematers who need watchmakers from the outside to show them a new way to tick.

    And the progression has been natural. I remember the significant derision O’Reilly was first shown when he made his first forays into Washington, D.C. after applying his road-tested-successful business strategy to #Gov20 events. It seemed most of the only people who were buying it, literally, were the large corporate interests or those who aspired to be part of it, leaving the true backbone of government innovation – rank and file employees and decisionmakers – to our grassroots events and hashtags.

    At that time it was the wise thing for business interests to contribute ideas, sponsorship support, and above all professional respect to the #Gov20 community lest they be seen as carpet baggers. Many did this very well, including eventually O’Reilly, who I think has made some great changes in approach for a long-term plan {I’m now an avid reader of the Radar Week-in-Review}. One could almost say that in a couple years that Silicon Valley and corporate interests have learned more about how to improve government from government employees themselves rather than the other way around.

    But here we reach inevitability. #Gov20 remains a massive but largely untapped well, the grassroots by-the-people approach has struggled to meet the demand, and corporate interests who have the where withal had no realistic intention of playing team ball forever – that’s not how business operates, and that’s completely understandable.

    Yes, the open dialogue of #gov20 is by its nature rife for exploitation at the moment – ideas get shared freely, minds are turned on, but only some can allocate the resources to make these visions tangible: the larger companies, and the little guys/gals who will one day unsling a rock into Goliath’s forehead and become the next big thing. Either way, this largely untapped well is spewing liquid gold all over the metaphorical Gulf, and someone has to be standing on the beach to collect it.

    So I say this: Yoko Ono is already in our recording studio, but we can’t just decide to stop making music {wait…}. Perhaps things won’t be as they were back in the day, when sharing ideas was as innocent as it was innovative because now companies’ business development executives apply the same lessons of crowd sourcing that we seek to foster within government. Perhaps our best minds will get tired of getting ripped off by companies, and that will be the high-octane persuasion they need to they themselves turn a virally retweeted idea into a completed project to benefit the community.

    Either way, franchised corporate #gov20 camps be damned – because its there doesn’t mean I’m going to buy a ticket, listen to their keynote, or feel privileged for the pleasure. You’re going to keep doing what you’re doing Alan, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, we’re all going to still aspire, and hopefully a better tomorrow shall come of it – after all we do this because if we had a choice of our passions we would have gone into far more lucrative careers than public service.

    Amen.

  6. I think you misinterpret MS trying to keep a low profile as trying to be sneaky, when everything I’ve seen and heard is that they are doing it to try not to look domineering. There is a culture shift going on at MS, and it clashes with their history and the way are perceived. I think they know the value of Gov 2.0 beyond just business.

    If Google had done this, would you react the same?

    I commend MS for this, glad to see a big player putting real resources behind this movement.

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  8. Alan, as an advisor to your company and to Gov 2.0 Camp LA, I am honestly astonished at this post and this attack on another commercial venture – you are doing the same thing you experienced from others. Do you remember how people were upset with you for being a commercial entity in the space? Yet you engaged with the community, discussed your purpose and won the respect of many – though you did still alienate others unfortunately who still refuse to embrace you. I would hope the lesson learned from this experience would be that such behaviour is silly, counter productive and not in the interest of the larger community as opposed to this is the behaviour we should act out against other businesses.

    Instead of looking at the bigger picture, you chose to attack Microsoft’s effort without even talking to them, without understanding who was behind the efforts, what their motives were and/or where they were heading. Since I can’t see the site now, I dont know exactly what you responded to, but I for one, having been in the unconference space longer then anyone I have seen on this thread so far, am disappointed that you choose to look at the efforts as predatory and damaging to the community before even knowing what value they are providing.

    If the response over on this blog post is to be believed, it sounds like they have been doing this for a while http://www.govloop.com/forum/topics/what-is-govcampsorg and it sounds like Walter has been at one and thinks positively of it.

    Justin says it clearly – we must all be weary of self-appointed leaders… and it seems we have a few people here appointing themselves cool and in charge and relegating Microsoft to the bottom of the ladder. Everyone knows that I am not a huge Microsoft supporter, or a supporter of any Monopolies, but the popularization of grass roots movements into mainsteam culture happens this way, and I for one am not dismayed about it at this point – I am interested in contributing to a broader movement which is bigger and more important then any one person, any one company and any one arbiter of what is acceptable in regards to who is allowed to get involved and who is accepted as a participant/supporter/leader of community events for our common good.

    That said, when speaking to Mark Drapeau and Alex Howard about partnering with them for our common interests via Social Media Club last week in DC (Microsoft Gov and O’Reilly representatives respectively), I can say I was summarily dismissed. The reason Mark gave, Tim O’Reilly wants to own the space and isnt interested in partnering with anyone. That sounds like someone who should get a tongue lashing such as this. I talked to many people last week about O’Reilly and Gov 2.0 and all clearly believe he is a good guy with good intentions, but largely and almost singly focused on profiting from owning the phrase Gov 2.0 and the broader movement. Yet you, Justin and many others refuse to point this out while standing on a soap box accusing others of such behaviour and turning a blind eye to those efforts.

    I am more concerned about that sort of position then Microsoft putting its weight into hosting govcamps around the world. It is unfortunate as an independent community events producer that companies have drastically scaled back on their marketing support of community driven events – instead, many bigger companies like Silicon Valley Bank and Microsoft in this case, are utilizing in house resources to bring together their communities and serve the market.

    Unless you can point to something particularly untoward, manipulative or egregious about Microsoft’s involvement (other then them not putting their logo everywhere on the site which is seemingly what most community people complain about) I have to vehemently disagree with your position here and the arguments made by Justin and everyone else here who thinks its cool that you bullied a corporation who was working to do community good into stopping their efforts.

    • With the respect due you of having known you for over 20 years Chris, No comment on the advisor position, that is between my company and you. As for the rest of your comments, they are yours. I do not endorse them, but also am not blocking, deleting or otherwise stopping them and any comments. I have been open since the beginning of Gov20LA. The fact they took the site down speaks louder than anything I could say or blog. Thanks for the comments.

      • Alan, I’d like to speculate that Microsoft has taken the govcamps.org community site down, not for any reason that might support your suspicions of something dishonourable. Where you see corporate conspiracy and MS running to hide, I see a smart form of communication that says “we’re listening and don’t want to offend.”

        The mere suggestion of a misstep, even one as off base as this post reinforces internal support for a pull back of resources by Microsoft. I’ve already heard that this is happening in many markets and although there’s many variables affecting that, I know this type of corporate bashing does play a role. Can you blame them? Unfortunately, and I don’t care which corporation it is, my thought is they’re definitely going to think twice when asked to align with you or Gov20LA after this…I suspect many would say that would be a shame.

        And Alan this is only a suggestion based on simple observations, but you may consider your use of the word “transparency” in a critical manner with respect to Microsoft and business interests while you call yourself a Chief Idea Dude at a “Stealth Gov20 company.” http://www.linkedin.com/in/alanwsilberberg

      • Walter – all due respect. If that happens because of this post than so be it.
        But I stand on what I wrote. I do not hide. My new companies are in stealth mode until we are ready to launch our websites, a step most companies take. So – I have been both transparent about their involvement with Gov20LA and my feeling about this whole situation. It is all on Twitter. Every comment is being posted. That is how it works.

    • Alan, thank you for the links to my coverage of Gov 2.0 LA. It was good to meet you, along with many others in this community, at Congress Camp last summer. The way you phrase your reference to my work there is a bit ambiguous but it seems like you’re pointing there as evidence of how the event worked and what happened, as opposed to the previous links. You’re certainly allowing an open dialogue here about your post and its impact, which reflects well on your willingness to take criticism.

      Everyone who follows the industry knows about their corporate history and tangle with the Justice Department. Tt would be fair to note that Microsoft has been a supporter of many educational and civic initiatives, as have other large tech vendors. As the civic technology space is important to them and others, as evidenced by development of TownHall and a stack for .gov websites, I suspect they’ll approach engagement here with care now and in the future.

      Marcelo and Walter, thank you for more context about the gov camps you attended. I’d heard about more international gatherings but hadn’t found the degree of detail you commented upon. If you’d like to let me me know more about what happened and your experiences there, please do at alex@oreilly.com.

      Justin, I’m glad to hear that you continue to find the Gov 2.0 Week in Review useful. Thank you.

      Chris, I remember talking to you at length at TechCocktail about Social Media Club, training, your thoughts about community, workshops, D.C. Week and more. I greeted you again at the 930 Club and shared some humor about social media and shorts online. And of course, we met over umami burgers during the dishcrawl at Gov 2.0 LA.

      If your take aways from those interactions amounts to “summary dismissal,” I apologize, but that certainly was not where I’d though we’d left the conversation or dialogue about the government 2.0 community and its different constituencies. Mark can speak for himself; I’m not sure if he was speaking for O’Reilly. Feel free to reach out to me or to my teammate, Laurel Ruma, through whatever channels you prefer.

      It’s worth pointing out here that she was present at Gov 2.0 LA and has been a tireless advocate for this community, including developers, startups, government employees trying to do right and citizens. I say that as her friend and someone who saw that long before I became her colleague.

      As someone who writes about this space frequently, I doubt any one can own open government or government 2.0, including any country, commercial entity, agency, government body, media organization or public intellectual. Bill Eggers coined the term. Tim O’Reilly has supported a platform paradigm, including through events. That said, many people in and outside of government are quietly going about working towards and participating in a discussion around Gov 2.0, as evidenced by the robust dialogue here. I’m glad we retain the freedom of speech to have that debate, whether on the streets of the capitols or on newer virtual byways.

      • Alex, as I stated on Twitter, I apologize for an emotionally charged misstatement of facts – it was Mark Drapeau who dismissed these suggestions, placing the onus on Tim O’Reilly’s unwillingness to collaborate on antyhing since he wanted to own the space. In my experience (as we also discussed) this rang true and I wrote of this experience/discussion poorly. Knowing that Mark used to work in a similar role to you for O’Reilly and is now working for Microsoft, I should also have been clear with his potential for bias in characterizing the potential for cross organizational collaboration.

        We all know your heart is true and you are a believer in open community engagement, as is reflected in your comments above and in your long track record of posts on Gov2.0, and many other topics.

        My challenge was mainly to Alan, in regards to how he could attack MS for something he didnt really know about, yet give O’Reilly a pass for what he does know about (same with others in this thread obviously).

        These conversations are so nuanced sometimes, and the issues complex and emotional. Its really one of the reasons I mostly stay out of it online. Thank you for engaging in an honest and open conversation about this instead of attacking – this is an example of how we can build understanding, and get to better clarity, though calm dialog instead of emotional anger.

      • Thanks, Chris. I don’t know about whether my heart is true. It’s thumping along at the right pace in the right place, at least for the moment, and that’s good enough for this morning.

        To be fair, your challenge to Alan missed the mark in the same way his original post did, born out of passion and emotion, not by strict adherence to a balanced summary of the stakeholders, their involvement or even who said what to whom, in what capacity. For instance, when I covered Gov 2.0 LA, it was as an independent journalist, not for my official masthead at the time nor O’Reilly, as Alan attributed me.

        That role is central to the issue here. Alan didn’t incorporate other major entities in this space, which you object to, but then he wasn’t acting as a journalist. He was writing as a member of the community, including his own potential interests, as Walter points out, not approaching the issue without skin in the game.

        If a reporter from a media organization were tasked to explain govcamps.org, a first move would be to contact Microsoft for comment and ask sources on his/her beat if anyone knew anything about the issue, then to publish an account that didn’t rely upon third-parties or perceptions for its substance.

        With respect to that approach, it might be useful to point out that I’m O’Reilly Radar’s Washington Correspondent, not an Expo Co-Chair and columnist at various outlets, as Mark was this spring. It’s a new, primarily editorial role at O’Reilly Media that I’m proud to define through new media journalism.

        I appreciate your clarification and apology.

      • Alex – Yes you were at Gov20LA on your own – that is why I linked to your personal blog, and you are now with O’Reilly.

        Sorry for any confusion on that part.

        For the record: I am open to any and all discussions with any number of the people I know at Microsoft, and those I do not. In fact I will be having at least one of those conversations today by telephone. If they would like to have a response posted here, it will be posted in entirety without editing.

    • Chris – I think something was slightly lost in translation at the Lux nightclub where we spoke late at night. I would not characterize a position as “summary dismissal” but at the same time I’m not certain that the O’Reilly/TechWeb Gov 2.0 events are a natural formal partnership with the SMC. But certainly we can all have that conversation in a reasonable forum as Alex suggested. Mark

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  12. Alan, I think you need to talk to more people before you reach conclusions such as this as Chris Heuer states. As a political consultant in Gov 2.0 among other things, I was able to attend two gov campevents in Colombia and Mexico City sponsored by Microsoft and many other local firms, local, not global, and they were both not your typical corporate event at all. At no time were there any agendas or restrictions, nobody tried to sell me anything with, to, or related to Microsoft or any other major corporation, that you are so bashful about. Btw the event was free and open to the public, you had internet connections for free and you could post your own opinion free of censorship at any time in huge twitter walls displaying that opinion. I was at a Gov 2.0 event in San Francisco by O’reilly last fall and the event was closed, exclusive, and expensive to attend, why don’t you say anything about that?
    I think that if anyone, be it a corporation, or a person wants to have their own website they should have it, and let the people be the judge of how good or bad it is and that will determine how many participants or visitors they have. 2.0 is about being open, are you saying that only some chosen ones like yourself can participate in this space? People only like you? if this is the case then it is not open. One of the cool things about the events I attended is that people, any people, were able to present their topic and openly get voted on it, again no agenda. BTW all this events were free to attend and I was actually able to interact with real politicians from those countries that freely decided to participate, this would normally not happen. I was able to ask them real questions, not the typical press conference questions. I would say that is good wouldn’t you? How is that a bad thing?
    The cool thing about 2.0 is that its bigger than any one person or corporation, nobody can own it and hopefully you can understand that we are all free thinkers and can decide to participate or not in a Google, IBM or Microsoft event, what matters its how good it is. In the two events that I attended I found nothing but diversity. In Mexico I actually met a group of rural students who drove 20 hours to attend the event and they loved it, and since it was free they mentioned it was the first time they attended an event such as this, all other events had hefty attendance fees. Hopefully you don’t also think 2.o should be limited only to the United States. In any case, let it be 2.0 and let the people decide what this is all about, for all I can see in your own post most people don’t agree with you, I am glad you can be transparent about it, you seem glued to your prejudices, but open and transparent, maybe that is a good beginning to letting yourself see the bigger picture and also be open enough to maybe give the benefit of the doubt that not everything a corporation does is evil. I will ask the question again that one of your posters made, if Google had done this, what would your reaction have been?

    • My reaction is that I included Google in this post – and if they had put up the same site, I would have written the SAME blog. Transparency is partially about creating the environment to allow it.
      My post stands. If there were problems with what I wrote, then why was the site pulled?

      • the problem Alan, is that you refuse to be open to conversation with MS or anyone else about this issue, and with your commercial interests at stake here, one has to doubt the intention of your attack on MS. indeed, it could be claimed that you are competing with them and that this attack on them is less then transparent in regards to your interests here, though I do understand that it is more a matter of personal stakes involved.

        why did MS take site down? I dont know. why not call your contact and ask before gloating in your victory and righteousness? you may be right, that they took it down in response to this post and my good friends Dominic Campbell and Hillary Hartley’s concerns too – that said, it isn’t necessarily right that they took it down either, in fact, I would say its wrong, because other people like me arent able to weigh in on it with all the facts

    • Marcello, Also – All attendees at Gov20LA attended for free, as was the Full live stream of the event, open to the World, thanks in part to Microsoft. But – Them being a sponsor – as opposed to a centralized “owner” of the gov20 camp movement are two wholly different things.
      Plus, I am concerned about the way the site was wired – little transparency and some strange ways of explaining things. That piqued my interest.

      • Alan, I appreciate that you are feeling under attack here, and that your pride is certainly at play with your “stand by my post” comments. I can appreciate that but don’t agree. You seem completely unwilling to even entertain the fact that maybe this could have all played out a bit differently…

        I believe a truly collaborative approach from the beginning would have be to open a dialogue with MS about their approach and provide them with your perspective, especially since you clearly have a trusted Microsoft contact there who’s facilitated a budget for your event. Wouldn’t that have been more savvy then flaming them and jumping to dishonourable conclusions and assumptions without background? Then you could have written a balanced post of substance.

        My point on this was Alan, if you have the right (which you certainly do) to stay in “stealth” mode (yet communicate about it to raise awareness) regarding a company that intends to make money off of the Gov2 movement, why doesn’t MS enjoy the same liberty in your mind? In order for your company to make money and survive it too will need to position itself in the market right? Not that I believe in any way that was the intent of Microsoft…

  13. This is such a great dialog. I wrote this post on my own. These are my thoughts and concerns. I never called for the site to be taken down, and in fact feel this just makes the whole situation much harder for people to comprehend and does nothing except make it all the more cloudy. I have posted every single comment, and will continue to do so. When and if Microsoft would like to show it’s side, I am more than thrilled to post their response. So far the response has been on Twitter, as have many other comments not found here.

    It is funny to be called names, to see how these responses play themselves out. Personally, many of these comments are extremely revealing both for what they say and do not say.
    If I am “under attack” then so be it. Won’t be the first or last time I come under attack.
    I chose to write this, and the consequences are open for all to see. There will be no retraction. The post stands, and I welcome the debate and dialog and thank you all for taking the time to participate so thoroughly. I raised issues and I also knew while writing it that people would be unhappy.

    It is important that this dialog take place. If not Microsoft, then Google, or Facebook. Once sponsors cross over the line to ownership it changes the game up. That was my point with this post.

  14. Woah woah woah – everyone calm down a second. Or don’t, its up to you.

    On both sides of the argument, if there even are sides, I see people saying many of the same things but from different positions on the map.

    a) No one owns Gov20 – Alan made the point that by Microsoft co-opting the name GovCamp (which is extremely closely associated with the relatively free to the public, organically produced “I’m an attendee but if I have an idea I will be welcome to get up stand up and present it” Gov20 Camps) it was taking a format and brand used by the community and using it as an exclusive business model. He said that because he feels no one owns Gov20.

    Then the rebuttles come that who is Alan to squash the contribution of Microsoft, or tell anyone for that matter and relegate Microsoft to a lower rung on the ladder (which if anyone really thinks Microsoft can be placed on a lower rung on the ladder then that is ridiculous). People say this because from their interests and perspectives (two of whom mentioned either working with or wanting to work with Microsoft, which is in no way a bad thing), but also from the idea that no one owns Gov20.

    Got news for everyone: Gov20 is just a buzz word, and not worth fighting over. Its the concept behind it, and as has already been mentioned by both sides of this argument, the fact that their are entities who want to gain ownership or thought leadership of it for profit.

    B) The more contributors and participants Gov20 has, the stronger it is – Some would say the best role for companies is as speakers and financial supporters like modern day Medicis, others would argue that switching to a Montague & Capulet style corporate feudal system approach would be better, which make no mistake I already see occuring. Either way, we all agree that more participation is good, and as aforementioned exclusivity is bad.

    C) Some people have not acted in the best interests of the community – We all know this. Its why our red flags are raised, and as a result we seek the support of some people and not others. Perhaps this is why there is two sides of this similar argument.

    Either way, I’m beginning to get the feeling that this comment thread is just becoming an opportunity to settle scores, cover asses and give shout outs to potential partners. And there is nothing wrong with that, but while its good to air some things out, there is a point where it loses its value.

    So thank you all for the insights, and thank you Alan for raising the point. Next we should see what Microsoft actually does – if its good, I will certainly attend. If its not I won’t. Not exactly a ground breaking strategy but its reasonable.

  15. Pingback: Monopolies, Gov 2.0 and Community. (via IdeaGov) « Random Thoughts of a Boston-Based CTO: John Moore's Weblog

  16. I started the discussion on GovLoop after I saw the Govcamps.org site Tuesday night while it was still up.

    As someone who’s been closely following, attending, launching and co-organizing various barcamps and other unconferences since 2005, here’s three things I found odd (because oftentimes they point to a corporation or marketer trying to take over this very special community format):

    * The way they use the Barcamp logo (a community mark)
    * The rather opaque about page
    * The fact that Gov 2.0 Camp Berlin 2009 was listed as one of “their” events (a clear indication of ownership that’s not typical for barcamps and certainly not the impression one would have gotten from watching the event last year)

    With regard to the support of corporate sponsors at these events, I still think it’s smart to place relatively low limits on the contributions each company is allowed to make and seek a diverse group of funders, corporate and private, large and small. That’s the approach the early barcamps took in order to keep ownership in the community.

    Lastly, if criticizing our sponsors becomes a problem because we’re worried they might withdraw their support, maybe it’s time we went back to a more frugal way of running our events. ;-)

  17. Pingback: Gov 2.0 as Social Darwinism « IdeaGov

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