Web 2.0 panel weighs in on risks

Federal Computer Week recently reported on various concerns that federal officials had expressed about the government’s use of social-networking technology. When we asked readers for their thoughts — is Web 2.0 worth the risk? — we heard similar apprehensions. So we pulled together a virtual panel of Web 2.0 experts, within and outside the government (see box), and asked them to address the most common concerns and comments. Here is a roundup of the panel’s responses (edited for length).Web 2.0 threats are for real, and bad guys are using Web 2.0 vulnerabilities to penetrate government networks. Just as with any other technology, it should be used by agencies only after a thorough assessment of the security risk to information and systems. It’s important to acknowledge the security difference between public data/information and issues of national security. There will always be tension between security of information and availability of information. Tension and/or risks should not be reasons to reject the technology but rather motivators to understand the vulnerabilities and adapt proper security measures to address them. Security is not limiting Web 2.0. As with any new technology, government needs to consider appropriate security controls to ensure that the effort can be relied on in terms of maintaining appropriate data confidentiality, data integrity and availability. It’s true that companies are increasingly using Web 2.0 applications, although they too have encountered security problems in the early stages and the business managers who want to deploy these technologies often face resistance from [information technology] leaders. The solution has been for IT leadership teams to bring Web 2.0 apps behind the firewall where they can properly maintain, secure and support them. Governments can use Web 2.0 securely and a growing number of agencies in the United States and around the world are doing so successfully. Organizations need to realize their workforces already use these tools extensively in their personal lives and will increasingly expect to use them at work. We completely agree. In fact during a recent discussion forum with a group of Young Government Leaders, YGL representatives said that young people will use collaborative tools no matter what. They have grown up with these technologies, and collaborative tools are the best and fastest way young people know to gather and share information. Government agencies work to prevent hackers from getting into government sites and to prevent data leakage from government, but those concerns should be and are being addressed more broadly than for Web 2.0. These security concerns should not be [the] sole reason to ban all access to all Web 2.0 sites.One of the mitigation strategies for agencies that block all use of the Internet from their networks is to set up a separate network for the communications staff who need to have access to sites such as Wikipedia, blogs, YouTube, and other Web 2.0 sites in order to use these tools to distribute government information and services, see what others are saying about an agency, start conversations, and join conversations. Parts of DOD have taken this approach.By NOT using these new Web 2.0 tools, agencies will continue to encourage the traditional silo mentality of government that is now becoming less and less effective when it comes to communicating with the public, and even with one another. The potentia l benefits for improved government/citizen communication, or better information sharing and productivity of project teams, almost mandates their consideration. Web 2.0 technology offers the government opportunities to be more inclusive, transparent and agile. I also believe that most employees will use these tools appropriately. Some agencies are trying to find the right fit for these technologies — change is hard.We totally agree. The essence of Web 2.0 lies in transparency, diversity of thought, and the wisdom of the crowd. Change is hard and it is essential that government changes now. Government leaders have the responsibility to embrace this opportunity and deliver for the citizenry. I am a firm believer in the wisdom of the crowds. Many minds are better than a few in sharing knowledge and determining solutions to the societal issues and problems which government addresses. These technologies make it easier to share knowledge across boundaries within agencies, between agencies and with the public. [And] most agencies are not sitting on the sidelines. The commenter who suggested employees committed to their careers will continue to use Web 2.0 technologies appropriately hit upon something that is critical. Within government, there are already many rules, guidelines and practices on who can speak on behalf of the agency, what information you can and can’t share, how you represent your agency, and what you are allowed and not allowed to do while on the job. This is really a management and a trust issue that is not unique to Web 2.0. The adoption of any technology in the federal sector should be based on an assessment of its impact on an agency’s mission. Blogs, wikis and other social networking applications are not central to the mission of most agencies, and their adoption represents an unjustified use of taxpayer dollars. I agree that government shouldn’t roll out these new tools without purpose. The tools should be implemented to support the mission activities. [But] wikis can be a great way to engage a much larger set of experts on an issue and collect and present this collective knowledge in a much more efficient way. Blogs are good ways to seek thoughts on issues as well. To me, these complement existing activities or, in some cases, are just new ways of doing them.No agency should invest in technology in the absence of a clear understanding of how that technology will be used to advance the agency’s mission. Many expensive IT projects have been doomed to failure from the start because project managers and vendors failed to align the capabilities of a given technology with the real needs of an organization.But make no mistake in this case: Web 2.0 technologies are central to fulfilling your mission. What specific mission? It doesn’t matter. These tools must be adopted because they are becoming the dominant and preferred way in which we communicate and collaborate. I totally agree that adoption of technology in government or elsewhere should be based on a business need for using that technology. Blogs, wikis and social networks can most certainly be used by some agencies to achieve some of their goals, and can in some cases be used to achieve those missions more cheaply. In fact, they are being used in this way. Do not use Web 2.0 terms, such as blogs, when using these technologies because many of them have become pejorative terms in agencies, and people who are still getting ed to the technologies often come with preconceived notions of what they are and what they can do. Instead, it’s better for agencies to simply consider them as tools, just as any other technology tool or utility. The language one uses depends on your audience. Sometimes people are afraid of terms they don’t know, and then worry more about understanding the technology than why it may be useful to an agency’s mission. We should not promote technology for technology’s sake, but instead define the need and see which technologies, if any, help meet that need. When using terms like blogs, wikis, podcasting, virtual worlds, social networking, RSS feeds, mashups, widgets, social bookmarking, micro-blogging, etc., I find it helps to give a simple, nontechnical definition of what that means. Agreed! It’s not about the technology; it’s all about the problem, the community you are engaging and the value exchange with the community. We need the wisdom of the crowd to successfully tackle the challenges that government is facing. Leaders need to adjust their thinking beyond the traditional vertical silos and look for ways to pull constituencies together across the organization and levels of government. This type of thinking is not about tools; it’s about fundamentally changing the game. 

Web 2.0 experts

Frank DiGiammarino, vice president of strategic initiatives and business development, and Lena Trudeau, program area director of strategic initiatives, at the National Academy of Public Administration.

Anthony Williams, vice president at nGenera Insight, a think tank that investigates new business models. He is co-author of the book “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything” and is currently leading a multimillion-dollar investigation named “Government 2.0: Wikinomics, Government and Democracy.”

Molly O’Neill, assistant administrator and chief information officer of the Office of Environmental Information at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Bev Godwin, director of USA.gov and Web best practices at the General Services Administration.



COMMENT:

DiGiammarino/Trudeau:

O’Neill:

Williams:



DiGiammarino/Trudeau:

Godwin:



COMMENT:

O’Neill:

DiGiammarino/Trudeau:

Godwin:



COMMENT:

O’Neill:

Williams:



Godwin:

COMMENT:

Godwin:




DiGiammarino/Trudeau:

NEXT STORY: Obama, McCain: The same coin?

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.