Today began the first ever Government 2.0 unconference. The concept isn’t new—people get together and make suggestions about what they’d like to discuss. If something catches your interest, you go listen to the group. If you don’t like it, you leave and find something else. What is new is that this is the first time that representatives from all branches of government, contractors, and nonprofit types are coming together to discuss social media, new media, transparency, Web 2.0, Gov2.0, communications in general, and whatever else crosses everyone’s mind. At the start of the day, a microphone was passed around and everybody in attendance said who they are, where they work, three words to describe their interest, and a topic they’d like to lead, if so inclined. It was amazing to see the diversity of representation. There are people from State Dept, NASA, the Sunlight Foundation, Finland, and a hundred other places. (Proudly, the Air Force led the military representation with six attendees.)
From our perspective, an event like this is a continuation of the Air Force’s efforts to engage the public—which for us includes talking to and listening to what you have to say. And this is also a stride to continue enforcing the idea that “every Airman is a communicator.” We want our Airmen to talk to the public, and we want the public to talk to them. Military men and women are doing a lot of different jobs, in addition to fighting a war, and people don’t often hear what they’re doing. In the bigger picture, each branch of the government is doing numerous jobs and it’s become apparent that they want to tell us what they have to say, and the public wants to hear what they have to say. Transparency has become a big buzzword following President Obama’s executive order on open government, and this event is a step in the right direction to helping ensure transparency. As always, if you have something you want to tell the Air Force, let us know. We’re listening and our Airmen are talking.