Friday, February 20, 2015

Don't expect the new normal to be normal

Around the world governments are struggling to understand and adopt social media and other digital tools into their business operations. 

In Australia many agencies are quite advanced in adopting social and Gov 2.0 tools - with digital firmly integrated into communication programs and, to a lesser extent, into program delivery and policy development.

In fact in some places I'm seeing a degree of complacency, the type that has senior public sector leaders saying "we have Facebook and Twitter and are using them successfully without any major issues or incidents".

This is a good thing. It's great to see agencies using digital channels well to engage with the community and each other.

However it is important to keep in mind that the world hasn't simply gone digital and stopped turning.

Technology continues to evolve at an incredible pace. 

Thirty years ago most of us used desktop computers with text interfaces. Twenty years ago the internet only had a few hundred web domains. Ten years ago there was no Twitter and both Facebook and Youtube were novel, with MySpace the dominant social network. Five years ago tablet computing devices were not in widespread use and mobile computing was still emerging as a thing.

While agencies may have developed the systems and expertise to navigate today's digital world, this map won't necessarily equip them for the digital world in five, ten or twenty years.

This means agencies need to continue to evolve and innovate, experimenting with new technologies and retesting their assumptions about older digital tools and approaches.

The new normal is evolutionary, not static, with technology increasingly reshaping societies into forms that were not predicted or prepared for.

Technology has already shifted the balance of power between large organisations and individuals, revolutionised manufacturing and medicine, made universal surveillance possible and given every person their own television, radio and newspaper channels.

What comes next - with 3D printing, nano-technology, robotics, self-drive vehicles, personal digital augmentations and more - will continue to challenge governments and societies to redefine what is appropriate and legal.

So keep up the good work using Facebook and Twitter to distribute your messages and to engage your audiences in open conversations. 

But keep an eye on the horizon for what may be ahead.


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