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Why CIOs — or any agency leader — can (and maybe should) blog

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NASA Goddard CIO blog

NASA Goddard CIO blog

As regular readers know, I’m fascinated by government 2.0 because I think there are very real opportunities here. There is a confluence of factors — the push for change, the swath of young people who will join the federal government, and then the scores of easy-to-use tools that are available out there now — that are part of the tide that is pushing this to happen. Beyond that, these tools enable government to operate better — more efficiently. For as long as I have been covering government, people have been saying that they want to share information. And now they can — in very powerful ways. In fact, the government is uniquely suited to tap into the power of these tools because government, in particular, needs to share information across a variety of groups — internally and externally. So there are real opportunities here. That being said, it does involve change. And government is not particularly good at change.

One of the Web 2.0 areas that has been somewhat controversial are blogs. Yes, there are a growing number of government blogs, and there have been some, such as TSA’s blog, that have been very successful in spurring change in ways that I — and I think TSA — didn’t really anticipate.

There are a handful of CIOs who blog. Robert Carey, the CIO for the Department of the Navy, was the government’s first CIO blogger. Read his blog here. Another is Linda Cureton, CIO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Read her blog here.

Let me start off by saying that I believe that, if a blog is going to be successful, it needs to be representative of the blogger — or the organization. (I’ll re-post my tips for bloggers tomorrow.) And Cureton captures that is a really marvelous way.

I have spoken to many of the CIOs about blogging. Most of them say, ‘Why would anybody care what I think?’ Then they get caught in the loop of legal questions. ‘Is what I write official agency position… blah blah blah…’

I give Cureton a lot of credit because she just does it — and addresses questions like this one right in her blog. (You can read the full post after the break.)

Why blog? Here are some of my responses to that:

  • Get your ideas out there: One government blogger told me that this person’s blog is getting about 30,000 hits a month. That means you are reaching 30,000 people that you might not have reached before.
  • Start a conversation: This takes awhile, but… blogs can be a place where you have a conversation. My definition of Web 2.0 — and just about everybody has their own definition — but my definition is that Web 2.0 is the theory that all of us are smarter then each of us individually. Therefore a blog should be one of the places where you can send out trialbaloons — and let people comment on them, for example. Again, a blog should be unique to the writer, but…
  • Leadership: The author is immediately a leader. People are reading this blog for insight and analysis… to find out what they should know. There is a responsibility there — you have to add value. But it can be a place where you can get behind the scenes.
  • Dip your toe into the Web 2.0 waters: There has been some criticism of government that they are moving too slowly on the government 2.0 stuff. I think most agencies are dipping their toes into the Web 2.0 water and seeing what works — it is exactly what they should be doing. This is a way to try it out and see what happens. The good folks over at NAPA’s Collaboration Project are quick to point out that you don’t want to do the ‘field of Web 2.0 dreams’ — if you build it, the problems will be solved — and I agree with them to a large extent. But I also think that you will never fully understand the power of collaboration if you don’t collaborate. For some people, that is a blog. For some people that isFacebook. (Why haven’t you ‘friended’ me on Facebook, by the way?) Try it out.

Here is the top of Cureton’s blog post, “But I blog.” (NOTE: I don’t ususally repost people’s blog posts — one links, and I have linked to her post — but I think it is interesting enough that I hope you will read it, so… I have letCureton know that I re-purposed her post and I have told her that I will pull it down if she wants. I hope you will spend the moment reading it because I think it is honest… and she captures some insights. And it is a great start to a larger discussion, right?)

But I Blog

I am often asked why on earth do I blog; why would a federal CIO want to blog; and where do you get the courage to do this. All fascinating questions that I thought about when I started and revisited as I got an email from a CIO colleague last week.  Here’s the email:

Hi Linda,

I saw this article in Forbes and thought of you. I have been very impressed and amazed at your level of comfort sharing details of your job and yourself with the world. I am learning a lot by reading your Blog and Twitters, and I hope to get as comfortable writing (not to mention as skilled) as you are.


I read the article which challenges us on the fear of blogging.  Jim shouldn’t have been so impressed.  I’m scared to death. The truth of the matter to Jim and to others is that I am not comfortable and I am afraid.  So, why do I blog?  Here are my reasons:

    • To learn and demonstrate the value of Web 2.0 technologies supporting the spirit of innovation that should be required of a NASA CIO
    • To communicate to stakeholders and customers the activities and issues related to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center IT Transformation
    • To focus my thoughts and learning to the things that matter in my role as the CIO
  • To increase my leadership abilities to those I serve by providing a means for them to get to know what the “real” me is like

Conginue reading here… or after the break…

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Written by cdorobek

October 22, 2008 at 9:04 AM Cureton exits the GITEC board

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Earlier, we told you about the changes at GITEC — slow changes, but changes, or so it seems. Many of those changes have been spurred by Linda Cureton , the CIO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and a GITEC board member.

Soon after the post, we learn that Cureton has decided to leave the GITEC board.

We’ve heard that there were other board members who were going to step down.

One of GITEC’s value propositions is that it is one of the only organizations out there with a government only board.

Written by cdorobek

September 24, 2008 at 10:56 PM