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In Case You Missed OpenGovWest...

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May 18, 2011

Clay Shirky in UsNow - the Film

(Click image to play video above)

What's OpenGovWest?
Part conference, part unconference, OpenGovWest is an open government accelerator and community builder. The idea is to provide a forum for people and government to meet and learn about collaboration, transparency, and participation.

Convened in Portland, Oregon this past weekend, the event was FANTASTIC! And it wasn't just "west" - our people map revealed representation from Florida, New York, Iowa, Nebrask, Brasil, and all over Canada. The knowledge and energy OGWers shared was impressive. Panels on apps competition to culture change to participatory budgeting were highly engaging and loaded with insight.

As an alum of similar conferences and events, I am thrilled that the center of gravity is moving away from "open data" and toward a broader, deeper notion of "open government - the one that first sent chills up my spine in the documentary UsNow. The film is so inspiring that even two years after release, I find myself returning to it whenver I lose my compass.

And the Connection to Workforce Leadership?
First, workforce is a policy area of government. Like other policy areas opening themselves up, workforce too, could learn from and contribute to the body of knowledge and practice emerging around participatory processes. From collaborative budgeting, to on-line debating, voting, and collective problem-solving, new tools are helping governments around the world engage their citizens as never before - and at scale. An amazing collection of videos illustrating these trends is here on the O'Reilly Gov2.0 Expo site.

Second, open processes employ multi-level communications in which people can talk (and collaborate) directly with each other. This creates the possiblity for people to go beyond  influencing government policy to actually designing and delivering solutions to policy problems. People tweeting jobs to each other or sharing leads on LinkedIn are small examples. The myriad of emerging social learning platforms offer the possiblity of more profound change. As for collaboration? In a six-hour Code-a-thon at OpenGovWest, the winning team built an open source app that makes editable and sharebale 211 community service information for Portland and Multnomah County. (Wow.) This is information our workforce centers use every day.

Third, the same technologies making government more participatory, transparent, and collaborative are also changing every workplace and every school in America and across the world. The Future (of Work and Learning) is already here, it's just not evenly distributed.* Workforce leaders have an opportunity to help their firms and workers get ahead of these changes, increasing their competitiveness and ability to navigate a career, not just find a job, and engage in a lifetime of learning, and not just school.

And we're just getting started.

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*Yes, this is a thinly veiled reference to William Gibson.