Community Building – Government 2.0 Style

As I thought about the title for this post, I realized I’d be taking my chances with it from a hype and buzzword perspective. If there were ever two concepts that are emblematic of where we are today in technology, it would have to be ‘Community’ and ‘Government 2.0‘.

Unfortunately, they are also two of the most overused and over-hyped phrases in our technology lexicon. However, given what I attempt to do everyday in my role as Forge.mil‘s community manager, I’m hoping I can cut through some of the hype and bring some practical ideas to this space. This is also an opportune time for me to get some of these thoughts down here, as I’m planning on giving a new, more community-focused presentation on Forge.mil to the folks at the Online Community ‘Unconference’ being hosted by ForumeOne Networks on June 10th, 2009 in Mountain View, CA.

Because of my engineering background, I love reuse, so, I’ve titled the talk ‘Generals, Colonels & Community – Refactoring DoD Software Development’. Some readers of this blog will recognize the first part of that title from a previous post of mine on this subject. So, without giving away all of my presentation (I’d love to have folks come see it in person!), here is some of what I’ll be covering from the ‘What Have We Learned about Gov 2.0 Communities?’ perspective:

  • They are more risk averse than their corporate counterparts
  • They’re addicted to email – if the community platform doesn’t reach into email, you’re in trouble
  • They require slightly more ‘Stick’ (top-down pressure) than ‘Carrot’ (grassroots)
  • They tend to grow around efforts to extend tools (SharePoint, Lotus Domino, Red Hat Enterprise Linux), rather than their own technology
  • They require more of a ‘contact-sport’ approach – face time and one-on-one explanations

The good news I’ve found in the short time I’ve been working in this space is that there are pockets of somewhat frustrated, but extremely passionate Open Source/Open Collaboration champions in this world. Those are the people that keep the momentum going, and as a community manager, you have to give them as much care and feeding as you can, since they are paddling upstream against a very strong cultural current.

I’ll do a post-conference write up on what I learn from giving this talk, as I plan to utilize the cadre of community-minded folks in attendance as a sounding board to help me improve it. I hope to see some of you at the event – it should be a productive day listening and learning from some of the best community management minds in the field!

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