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Government 2.0: Federal Websites Reach the Blogosphere

Governmental web sites are usually one of the first places people go for official government information. Few of us, however, know that government blogs exist as a possible source of information. It may surprise many to learn that the federal government maintains a web page entitled "Blogs from the U.S. Government," which lists active and archived government blogs.

While governments have been slow to embrace Web 2.0 technology, it has nevertheless begun to do so. According to Webcontent.gov, "Blogs put a human face on government. They can make government more 'open' by allowing more interaction between government and its citizens." Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, is quoted on webcontent.gov as saying: "It's all about openness. People see blogs as a reflection of an open communicative culture that isn't afraid to be self-critical." Since 57 million adult Americans read blogs (according to a 2006 Pew Internet & American Life Project report called Bloggers: A Portrait of the Internet's New Storytellers (PDF)) government blogs serve as a more dynamic way to engage or further a dialogue between citizens and governmental officials.

A perusal of "Blogs from the U.S. Government" reveals a variety of blogs ranging from "Peace Corps Volunteer Journals," concerning the experiences of Peace Corp workers, to the State Department's "Dipnote," which "offers the public an alternative source to mainstream media for U.S. foreign policy information and the opportunity to discuss important foreign policy issues with senior State Department officials." Of particular interests to many of us at this moment is the Congressional Budget Office Director's Blog, which among several objectives, attempts to remedy misunderstandings of CBO data or testimony.

There are those who will seriously question the veracity, value and reliability of information found on government blogs, as indeed should be the case. Regardless, government blogs remain a potential resource which may provide invaluable information and insight.

For further reading about government blogs, I recommend Professor David C. Wyld's report entitled The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0 (PDF).