Newmark on Gov 2.0, IT Workers

Wired Workplace sat down with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.org, on Thursday in San Francisco to talk about Government 2.0, the generational divide and other federal IT workforce issues.

Wired Workplace sat down with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.org, on Thursday in San Francisco to talk about Government 2.0, the generational divide and other federal IT workforce issues.

Newmark discussed his vision for Government 2.0 as a force multiplier, noting that social media and other tools will enable federal employees to work together and with the private sector and public to accomplish greater good. But, he added, the biggest improvements in productivity will come from a renewed call to service among Americans, and social media will play a huge role in helping those who serve realize that their work is recognized as something valuable.

The government's top leadership also has gotten the message on social media's importance, he added.

The government needs widespread use of social media internally; we need the leadership to be clear and repeatedly clear about the use of it. We need agencies to provide more training to the people inside of all of this; and of course, the CIOs are already paying attention to the security and privacy issues.

On generational issues within the workplace, Newmark noted that many federal IT workers, who've lived with the Internet culture for so many years, believe in a tech-savvy culture where employees use new tools to collaborate. Despite many generalizations and assumptions about the younger generation being lazy or arrogant, Newmark noted that his personal experience with millennials, or those under 30, showed that the generation is civic-minded.

They [millennials] realize that they are inheriting a big mess, and they want to get the country out of the ditch. They're doing so in individual grassroots ways, and it's starting to work. But we need ways to unify people in doing this, and not just millennials, but everyone.

Newmark also highlighted that his interest in Government 2.0 sparked when he realized he had potential to bear witness to the great work IT workers are doing.

I have no stake aside from being a citizen, and I figured I can say things like, "This looks pretty good; let's get it done." Because everyone uses Craigslist, I have some credibility. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but I'm finding in Washington that everyone who's not senior or well-settled into a home uses the site. So they know that I'm OK and have a sense of humor.

Still, Newmark noted that he has not limited that focus solely on the federal government, noting that he believes effective governance will rely heavily on public-private partnerships.

The deal is that government can't do everything. In some senses, I'm a conservative and believe in limited government, which is to say the market should do things the market is good at and the government should do things the market is not good at. United We Serve, Serve.gov, AllForGood.org are all good cases for that. We're off to some success, but we need to do better.