Special Interview with Julie Germany at the Politics Online Conference 2009 in Washington DC

Q: How was the keynote speech this morning?

A:It was awesome! So often, people in technology, politics, governance, and advocacy spaces talk at our elected officials. We tell them everything they are doing wrong. We expect them to listen to us, but we don’t always listen to them.We decided to change that at the conference this year. Our opening panel this morning was a discussion between two Secretaries of State — Jennifer Brunner from Ohio and Debra Bowen from California — about how they are implementing tech strategies that provide constituents services and make government more open and accessible.Tomorrow’s keynote panel is with five members of Congress — Senator McCaskill, Representative Culberson, Representative Israel, Representative McMorris Rogers, and Representative Ryan — about their user experiences with social media.

Q: What was the most interesting happening so far?
A: I think some of the most interesting things are the conversations that are happening on several levels. The conversations between panelists, the conversations between the attendees, and the conversations we’re having online through Twitter and our conference Wiki.
Q: How will the conference work this year in terms of backchannel interactions? Did you use twitter backchannel at last year’s conference?

A: We have two back channels. We’re using Twitter heavily with @POLC09 and asking people to use the hashtag #POLC09. We’ve assigned different hashtags for different breakout rooms. We’ve also built a mobile site (www.ipdi.mobi) and wiki (www.ipdi.mobi/.wiki) for further conversations.
Q: What’s different from this year’s conference compared to last year?

A: I think this year’s highlight is all the elected officials we’ve convinced to come and talk about their technology visions.
Q: Who are you delighted to see on the list of attendees?

A: So many people! We have such a great community. But I have to say that some of the people I am most delighted to meet are Michelle Lyons from FutureGov Consultancy, Dr. Aysha Mubarak who is a Senator on the Shura Council in Kingdom of Bahrain, and the blogger and journalists Erin Kotecki Vest who is politicla director of Blogher.com and who moderated our Secretaries of State panel.

Q: Which session do you feel will be controversial?

Probably our final keynote, which pits the internet directors for the McCain and Obama campaigns head-to-head.


Q: Which session do you feel will be the most valuable one to government agencies?

A: Our Secretaries of State panel and our many breakout panels on eGov.

Q: In your personal opinion, what is the most important subject or area we should focus on in order to move forward with Government 2.0 or Politics 2.0?

A: A greater focus not just on the very internet-savvy, often well-education people like us who champion for greater, more effective uses of technology in government, but a focus on regular people, their needs, and their voices — and how we can use technology to enable more of them to participate in politics.

Another issue is a little different. In Washington, DC, we focus so much on judging whether an elected official of candidate is web savvy because he or she answers email or Twitters. I think true web savviness should be determined by the kinds of tech policies those elected officials create and their vision for technology in the public sphere.

End of interview.
Julie’s Bio:Julie Barko Germany serves as the director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet and director of marketing and communications for The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.

Julie is the principal author and editor of several publications, including Constituent Relationship Management for State Legislators, Best Practices for Political Advertising Online, Constituent Relationship Management: The New Little Black Book of Politics, and Person-to-Person-to-Person: Harnessing the Political Power of Online Social Networks and User-Generated Content, as well as The Politics-to-Go-Handbook: A Guide to Using Mobile Technology in Politics and The Political Consultants’ Online Fundraising Primer.  She co-authored Putting Online Influentials to Work for Your Campaign, and she has authored chapters in Voting in America and Rebooting America. She has appeared in national and international newspapers, magazines, and media, including MSNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News, CBS, and NBC. In 2008 Julie was honored as a Rising Star by Campaigns and Elections’ Politics Magazine.

Julie previously served as the deputy director of IPDI. She worked as a writer, editor and program manager for international initiatives in Korea, Ukraine, Haiti and the United States. Julie is a founding board member of Young Champions, a non-profit that addresses youth health issues, and a founder of Mobile Monday DC, the local chapter of an international community of mobile technology experts and enthusiasts.As an undergraduate, she studied Literature, Philosophy and Classics at Messiah College. Julie also studied at Keble College, Oxford University, as well as in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was a Pew Younger Scholar of Literature at the University of Notre Dame. She received an M.A. from The George Washington University, where she was a University Fellow.

 

Go to http://search.twitter.com and type in #polc09 to keep up with the POLC09 conference or visit the very cool wiki page they’ve setup especially for the event http://www.opencongress.org/wiki/POLCAgenda

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