Less than 5 short months ago, a dream was born. After several months of solo exploration on the potential of Web2.0 in government, I met up with a kindred spirit in Pam Broviak, a Public Works Director in Illinois. After a few conversations whining about the lack of good resources for governments interested in 2.0, we decided to put our money where our mouths were and build one ourselves. So we built a collaboration portal and an office in the virtual world, Second Life. Our goals were simple, straightforward, albeit perhaps somewhat lofty given our lack of resources and time:
- Become a Recognized, Powerful and Dynamic Resource for Governments Implementing and Innovating Via Web 2.0
- Establish a Strong Set of Virtual-World Resources for Government Agencies
- Coalesce into a Large, Active and Innovative User Community
- Have a Little Fun Along the Way
Looking back now, I can’t help but be proud of the work we have accomplished to date towards these goals. This week, we hit two milestones that underscore the success and value MuniGov2.0 is bringing to the government sector. We surpassed our 300th member mark. Little did I realize setting up our membership form a few months ago would it get such a workout! What started with just Pam and I has, literally, gone global with members around the world, at every level of government, and from a dozen different disciplines. We are now over 300 strong from technology, engineering, libraries, marketing, human resources and many more. This size and diversity lends itself well to having valued discussions both in real time during our weekly virtual meetings and via our active list serv. In addition to our growing numbers, we have also been able to move past the general “wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if” discussions into providing tangible, valuable (and free!) resources to our members. Last week, we released the details and registration information for our first virtual conference, to be held in April in Second Life. Although this is a virtual conference, the planning and effort required to pull it off rival that of a real world conference. And I am happy to say that the MuniGov group members eagerly rose to the challenge and are focused on all of the details that will make this conference successful: logistics, appropriate venue and facilities, dynamic speakers, effective marketing, etc. The diversity of our membership and its belief in the value of 2.0 has already made this conference a success, long before we actually have virtual butts in the virtual seats!
We are using a virtual world to meet and plan the conference. One on one planning discussions occur via Skype. We have a collaboration site to share info and conference registration. We are using Twitter, blogs and social networks to help us get the word out. We will be recording and posting the conference sessions online via YouTube. We are developing a wiki to help us keep track of all the important details covered in each weekly meeting. The MuniGov group to me is the epitome of why Web2.0 is a good thing. We are living proof that the tools are valuable, easy to use, effective and they are proof that you can do a great deal of good for your organization without spending money.
I am very proud to get in on the ground floor of such an exciting and adventurous endeavor. We’re already getting good results and yet as Karen Carpenter would say, “we’ve only just begun!”