By Nathan Rudyk

It turns out civil servants crave unconference approaches as much as many muffin-weary geeks. "Me Tarzan PowerPoint, You Bored Jane" just isn't a movie a lot of people want to see anymore. Phew.

My three-hour Ottawa session on the Web 2.0 social media phenomenon at Better Outcomes for Citizens on Wednesday was billed as a presentation. But with very little urging, in twenty minutes it became an animated exchange between peers who are passionate about exploring social media's potential to give government better access to the collective intelligence of citizens.

For me there were three ah-ha! moments that came out of it:

1. Engagement in social media is not an option. The Government of Canada is obligated to follow its citizens into the worlds of blogs, wikis, podcasts and RSS feeds.

2. At present using the C-word, or Communications, is a ticket to hell for innovation on Web 2.0. That word attracts too much top-down authority. Best to get pilots going under the auspices of new technology and leave the C-word out of it.

3. Most if not all in our group agreed that mastery of Web 2.0 meant increased integrity for Brand Canada in a world hungry for Canadian leadership on everything from economic development to justice systems.

The latter point was eloquently made by Peter Bruce, a member of Industry Canada's Internet dream team under John Manley in the late-90s and now Director General and Chief Technology Officer of the Information Technology Branch at Library and Archives Canada.

I ended the session with a demonstration of one of the brightest stars of social media networking. VOX is an exciting new multi-media blogging platform that underlines how Web 2.0 is a people-powered revolution.

Today at my one-hour talk I'll challenge the participants to join in a conversation here or with a Better Outcomes VOX blog I set up, and where a collaborative VOX neighbourhood could spontaneously form.

The era of what the CBC's brilliant technology and culture observer Nora Young recently and provocatively called collaborative truth is upon us, and government has never been a more interesting place to be. Blog on!

(Nathan Rudyk is President of market2world communications inc., Canada's Web 2.0 tech product launch and public relations agency, and founder of Ottawa's tech business podcast)