The Words We Use

As we try to define and materialize the phrase “open government” the rhetoric we use can be just as critical as the ideas we generate.  In general, I’ve found a distinct “us” and “them” feeling around the way ‘open government’ is talked about, as opposed to the “we” I believe is at its core.

Even in President Obama’s memo “Transparency and Open Government” – which is a tremendous step in the direction of collaboration and openness – has a tinge of separation between government and its people:  “Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their government…”  instead of we can learn together.

Through the powers of social media, now more than ever people’s voices are being heard.  How we hear those voices, who’s listening, and what they’re doing when they hear it, these are the issues we’re facing now.  When we’re looking at these issues, it’s important to remember that we need to keep everyone on the same level.  An “us” and “them” mentality won’t work.  Together we can solve the problems, together we can discuss the problems, together we can open up to new solutions.

I hope that through this blog, my colleagues and I can alter the rhetoric, expand the participants in the discourse, inspire action around the idea of an open government.

–  I will be blogging here on as well:


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