Beyond 2010 was held in Edmonton on October 20-21, 2010. The organization was impeccable. The selected speakers were of high quality, and many attendees came to the rendez-vous.
Unfortunately, delegates of other Canadian government levels (both provincial and federal) were strikinly conspicuous absent. Which is too bad for an event of this scale and of such quality.
Alone in the world, the City of Edmonton? Not quite. A fine strategist, Chris Moore, City of Edmonton CEO, had planned the coup. But with the current Canadian political situation, it was rather predictable. He matched his municipality with Birmingham, in United Kingdom. These two cities joined their forces to present the same event simultaneously.
Chris Moore also promoted a coalition of Canadian municipalities, grouped under the banner of Government 2.0. The cities of Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton are forming the 'G4' (I think C4 would be more appropriate, 'C' for 'City'). It was the perfect opportunity to announce a fifth player, the City of Montreal. Let's be realistic, Montreal is far from being an open governement, but it is nonetheless displaying leadership and political will to make the transition. Moreover, I noted that Mr. Moore expressed himself several times in French before the attendees of Beyond 2010, which I found was absolutely remarkable and respectul.
We were fortunate to hear a bunch of speakers who tried to open minds and remove limitations of thought, so that the future of Governement 2.0 could be contemplated. This was brilliantly done by Jack Uldrich, Dick Axelrod and Peter Hinssen.
Other speakers' mission was to describe the present.
Some speakers painted a portrait of social media. Carolina Millan talked about Facebook and Twitter. Duleep Wuayawardhana spoke about the fantastic new Empire Avenue networking experience.
Other speakers talked about best practices. Chris Vein made us all dream, describing San Francisco, which truly seems to be a social media and Government 2.0 paradise. Kevin Curry talked about 'citycamps' and the importance of initiating collaboration with citizens. Phil Ashlock talked about the development of open standards and best practices of open governement. Dr. Mark Drapeau was certainly the best choice of speaker for presenting what is the essence of Governement 2.0.
Once the minds were wide open, and the present had been well described, the most difficult task --- talking about the future of Government 2.0 --- was entrusted to the speaker Adriel Hampton. He courageously embarked on a lecture about science fiction, digital society and the future of governance. He was the only speaker to mention that technological advancement and Government 2.0 accounted for possible solutions to global challenges, such as the food crisis.
The time allocated to exploring the future of government 2.0 seemed insufficient. I wish we had another day of reflections to examine possibilities and to travel into the future.
We heard much about technology at this conference. It is obvious that the future will bring even more technology. But what effect will advanced technology have on human thought? And if human thought evolves, and ever gets transfigured or transformed, what effect will this have on governance?
I would like to hear great sociologists and philosophers such as Pascal Bruckner talk about Government 2.0 development around the world. I would appreciate to know about the vision of imminent psychiatrists, such as Dr. Marie-France Hirigoyen, and the rise of loneliness, the positive effect this might have on citizens' empowerment. Why not also consider the views of spiritual thinkers such as Dr. Deepak Chopra about the development of collective consciousness, and the Dalai Lama, who signed the book 'The Route of the leaders', about mental processes involved in decision making and confidence.
Beyond 2010 was not a conference like many others, because it benefited from already existing plentiful networks developed through Empire Avenue. Strong friendships had already begun to exist (partly throught The Dragon's Cave community). These links had an effect on stream of conversations. An analysis of tweets related to Beyond 2010 revealed that 'AdrielHampton' was the third most used keyword, after the location ('yeg') and the name ('Beyond2010yegrt') of the conference. An impact analysis of tweets also confirms the ascendancy of Adriel Hampton, as he reached the top impact position. And the most unexpected result was that I found myself in third top impact position (as I am neither a Beyond 2010 speaker nor an employee of the City of Edmonton, and I mostly tweeted in French).
If I were a decisionmaker, of course, I would be concerned about the well-being and positioning of my own administration. However, given the limited existing Government 2.0 in Canada, I would also wonder about my role as a pioneer. A particular dynamic was born in Edmonton, a crossover between the energy of networking throughout Empire Avenue, and the maturing of several Governement 2.0 advocates. I hope that decision makers will be aware of this special situation, and that they will pursue their analysis and actions by building on existing strenghts' good will and hopes.