While tents are being forced down at Occupy sites across the country, the Treasury Board of Canada has finally gotten around to erecting its virtual one, with the publication of "Guideline for External Use of Web 2.0".
What could have been an opportunity for the Government of Canada to present a new wave of information in a different light, though, has taken the form of another bureaucratic document.
Does information have to look so officious in order to be taken seriously? Treasury Board president Tony Clement has attached his name to something that resembles the Terms of Service agreements that no one would ever read. So, it's up left to more scintillating social media services to dissect its significance for the public service, and the public it serves.
"The federal government has hit the like button on social media," was the best the Canadian Press could extrapolate to sum up the guidelines. Just in case you thought that NDP MP Pat Martin's use of four letter words to describe Conservative tactics on Twitter might have led it to be banned from Parliament Hill.
Making pertinent information accessible through the outlets where Canadians are should be a given. But over 12,000 words of bureaucratese don't seem to provide tips on how the government can better relate to the nuances of Web 2.0 — a term that, itself, has gotten stale after seven years.
Clement can't be personally blamed given his appreciation of the chaos of Twitter. (Zero apologies on the job in 4,340 tweets!) But encouraging self-indulgence on the job, especially in this latest era of fiscal restraint, doesn't sound like the Conservative way.
Yet exercising caution about these tools can also cancel out the hope for real iteration. Considering how no one in Silicon Valley will dare say that the internet has been perfected, maybe it necessitates a lack of specificity, just like how it's impossible to find overall fault in Clement's call to modernize Ottawa.
Greater engagement wouldn't be hard to measure, then. So, what happens when innovations further reshape public expectation?
For those who have grown up online, government will prove its worth when it can show itself to be ahead of the curve, rather than lagging years behind.
Public service will now have to find out for itself whether its time to genuinely connect has passed it by.