Over 500 techies, policy makers, civil servants, vendors, media and academia gathered at Duke Ellington School on March 27-28 for the first ever Gov 2.0 Camp unconference.

Let’s get two explanations out of the way. Gov 2.0 is the part of public sector reforms that pertains to the use of new web-based technologies to foster transformation and modernization. Gov 2.0 is much broader and deeper than just the use of Social Media technologies, which tend to get a lot of attention these days. It is not only about paving the cow-paths, it’s about finding new ways to make governments more transparent, collaborative and participatory.

An unconference is on the BarCamp concept and is all about attendee involvement and outcome ownership. There is no pre-set agenda, it is created on the fly at the outset of each day and the session are hour-long conversations involving everyone that has an interest in the topic rather than a large group of people sitting and listening to a singular person give a presentation. I think many first-timers find it a bit chaotic at first, but the methodology is more inclusive, transparent and egalitarian, and at ultimately more satisfying and conducive to learning.

Big kudos goes out to Maxine Teller (@mixtmedia), Peter Corbett (@corbett3000), and Mark Drapeau (@cheeky_geeky) + Jeffrey Levy (@levyj413) for organizing this milestone event. Many thanks should also go out to all the sponsors, volunteers and participants – an unconference is truly a team effort!

So what happened during the two days?

Basically a lot of sessions and side-meetings. The agenda quickly filled up each day with 8-10 simultaneous tracks covering over 100 sessions in total. Over half the attendees were government employees, covering the ranges from high-powered entities like Macon Phillips and Bev Godwin from the Whitehouse New Media team to municipal government employees passionate about topics like the semantic web, cloud computing, citizen engagement and much, much more. One thing everyone had in common – the sessions were feverishly tweeted about with hash-tags like #gov20camp, #gov20, #askwh and many more. Head over to Twitter Search yourself to find out what was being said in 140 characters or less.

This event, being the inaugural event of the newly formed Gov 2.0 Club, is merely a starting point. No issue has ever been solved at an event like this, it is rather the starting point where you meet intelligent and passionate people, where you connect to peers and competitors alike and you focus on moving the issues forward. I left the Duke Ellington School Saturday evening, not only exhausted, but also with tons of new contacts/potential new collaborators, and with massive amount of fresh insights and new ideas. Another first in Washington, DC has been reached. Everyone that participated in the Gov 2.0 Camp has a part in the success of the Camp, but now also has ownership of the next steps to drive real outcome and change. The work has only just begun.

Patrick Svenburg

http://twitter.com/svenburg

PS. This blog post is a repost from Microsoft's Futurefed blog. DS