‘Twas a few nights before holidays when I awoke, unable to sleep in the wee hours.  After much tossing and coaxing I managed to doze off again and t was during those briefest of deep sleep moments that this dream came to me….
There I was, speaking at two events.  Much of the audience was the same for both which led to me being confused about having to be in two different locations.  Doing my best Alice impression I crawled through a small door above the floor in order to get to one of the venues.  The other?  Well, I seem to recall a hot-air balloon.  I had two pair of shoes with me and managed to keep only half of each.   My speaking notes, which I never did get to, covered topics such as web governance, storytelling, multilingual content strategy, opengov, gov20, engagement and others I can’t recall.  I briefly interviewed SXSW sponsors before getting onto a boat for the shortest of trips when I then;  jumped off seven feet short of the dock, waded to shore, climbed a mud embankment to reach the road, paid a girl $4 to find my watch, got into the front seat of a stretch limo and drove myself home…I think….
My blogging absence alone has led to sleepless moments….but this? 
I’ll happily leave the dream analysis to the pros but my own is this…my online odyssey has taken me down so many unexpected and fascinating paths over the last couple of years that I’m now grappling with my own place in it and how my job can, or should adjust.  The accumulation of partial blog drafts attests to that, something I will rectify!  I will continue encourage “scope creep” in my job description as my mind expands.
And now,  I look forward to returning here and sharing my views from more of those paths and hearing from those who have journeyed along with me or are on an odyssey of their own.
With that, I will assume, or at least hope, that mine isn’t the only such fractured, frenzied dream….right? ;)

Over the last decade or so of my toiling away in the government online world, I’ve often joked about the need for web champions to don capes and prowl the halls bringing attention to the potential of the web and the ‘super’ people bringing our sites to life.

My thinking has evolved. Gone are my longing for capes – it’s now time for the pace bunnies! The gun’s been fired and departmental wikis, internal blogs and online communities are all off and running. Settle in folks, this is a long marathon, not a sprint.

There are some who were already out on the course when these tools appeared at work. Others are happy to try and keep pace and improve along the way while some will forever be trailing behind.

Now, I’m neither an expert nor an early adopter – I have labelled myself as a “utility adopter.” I’m in it for the long haul but still look to those setting the pace up ahead to keep me in the pack.

Through my use and championing of our internal blog, which serves as a litmus test for our readiness to share, other teams have asked that I share my experience and help show them how these tools might help their work, which I’m happy to do.

It all boils down to the same thing – know your audience. I won’t grow frustrated with those lacing up their shoes for the first time, it’s a refreshing jog for me and I always learn something. I’m energized by those ready to speed up a little bit and really test the road. And for those who are ready to leave the pack, I’ll likely point them to the pace bunny ahead and wish them well.

Are you a pace bunny or do you need one?


Update:  With thanks to @bxmx it looks like “I’ll” be sticking around a little longer! 

Change – for the most part I love it.  Yet there are some things that just become comfortable and familiar.

And so it is that this was bound to happen.

“You totally need a new pic :P”

Yes, that’s the direct message I received via Twitter tonight.  I laughed, as it’s likely true.  I see those I follow changing their pics based on the season, their travels, a cause or campaign.  Me, I stick with my hand drawn classic.  It’s not flashy, it doesn’t render well and you can’t recognize me when you see me in person.

With a new year approaching perhaps it is time.  Before doing that though, I thought I’d like to at least share my attachment before the chorus of “yes, please change it” grows louder.

Web 2.0 in San Francisco last March drove me onto Twitter and I haven’t looked back since.  One of the challenges when I set up my profile was my pic.  Fortunately, Nancy Duarte’s “Tools for Visual Storytelling” session provided the answer.

During the workshop, we were asked to turn to, and draw a sketch of the person next to us.  My Twitter pic is the excellent 8 second result of the work of the person beside me.  I snapped a pic,   posted it and have comfortably settled into my hand drawn @mjmclean ever since.  It resembles my, speaks to my online personality (I like a little mystery!) and reminds me every day about the value of personal connections.

Now knowing this, do I change?  I know looking at the same pic, even washed out, could be frustrating so I’m nothing if not accommodating! ;)



Well, the end of the year is here which always brings about a time for reflection.  I expect many focus on their home and personal life.  But how many of you take the time to look at your career and work environment in the government and look at the changes you hope to bring about in the new year?
A colleague of mine has written a very timely and truthful piece about the collective wear and tear those of us working in the government web world are experiencing.  In particular:

“In an environment defined by tapered resource growth and increased demand for expertise we risk stretching our champions too far.”

I share those thoughts and agree with the challenges that risk poses.  I am battle tested and at times, battle weary.  Being a champion means being an ardent defender of your activities; to continually fight for what you know is right, or needed; and to lift those around us up, even if we ourselves feel down.

If we are in this for rewards, many are sure to exit early, become disenchanted or end up as casualties.  With tongue in cheek I often say I’m a glutton for punishment for sticking with the government web scene as long as I have.  The truth is, I love the challenge and the possibilities.   It takes people willing to be those champions and to share those burdens who will help us all emerge relatively unscathed.

As one who appreciates my chats with Nick (above mentioned author,)  his insights and commitment, and as one who has also felt at times that I’m being pulled and stretched, I offer up a year-end suggestion to all who have been toiling away in our government web world – it’s  holiday  time!

Power chord

Fatigue should not give way to frustration.  We are online longer, chatting more often, and constantlythinking and exploring.  It’s time to preflect on the many successes and advances of the past year;  re-evaluate;  re-examine and recharge!

To my Canadian government colleagues – doesn’t it seem fitting for us to look forward to 2010 as our year as the champions?



A quick thought in too many characters.

Talk about utility.

@mjmclean gcconnex is a tbs lead initiative that is now in the testing phase. I think it has loads of potential. Can discuss at pint20
– @peterdcown 19:28

Trying to navigate OGD org charts, GEDS,  or some bizarre, jagged information chain to get that concise, informative and actionable a response could, in most cases, be taxing.

Coming next: And I work on the inside, or do I?


Giraffe Forum today notes the future of Web management is evidence based. There is a reason why McDonad’s, Wal-Mart and Amazon’s of the world continue to succeed – decisions are made based on what clients want. What a profound concept.

Managing the Web in a political organization seems to fly in the face of this wisdom. Perhaps because we are not a Wal-Mart of Amazon and it’s perceived, because no financial transactions exist, that we don’t have real customers. In the world of social media, Web managers must help others recognize the relations based on loyalty, trust, transparency and engagement mean as much, if not more than those based on a shopping cart check out.

How much evidence is needed before it becomes clear our internal governance is presenting us from delivering on that evidence? Usability testing, traffic analysis, focus group testing, online survey, content inventory, we’ve done it all. Now, it ultimately boils down to who manages the Web presence and ensuring decisions are made by those closest to the evidence.

Fortunately, I’ve attended Web governance conferences with Lisa Welchman and have spent a week at the Web 2.0 Expo and have gathered my own evidence. I met with U.S Government Web managers who have been making tremendous strides in the last years and are now looking to continue, energized by a web-savy administration.

These conferences and my drive for decision making based on those we should serve has once again armed me with a desire to usher in a new era of Web management in an organization seeped in political culture. Without adopting the proper decision-making for the management of our online presence, we will be forever cemented in a non-transparent Web 1.0 world, a risky place for the Government to be.

Action plan to come.


My first posting has become that much easier after reading Eric Pratum’s article Taking advantage of Social Media? Taking part in Social Media. Do I use? Yes. Am I an addict? Not compared to some. (It’s nice to say these things without getting puzzled glances, or at least I’m not seeing them!)

I have likely avoided this realm as I found myself spread too ‘socially’ thin and unable to maintain and contribute to those meaningful connections. Eric’s article helped to get me back to the solid ground I used to enjoy. I’m happy to jump back into the social aspect and to take advantage the networks that keep me engaged.

And so, if at some point I turn into one of those rogue-ranters or voices to turn on/off, Eric’s the man to thank ;)


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