Gov 2.0 Hero: Beth Beck

Gov 2.0 Hero: Beth Beck

What was your path to Gov 2.0?

WIRED Magazine is my bell-weather for all things new. How does that apply to Gov 2.0? I find that we, the generic government, usually lag two years behind industry in our application of new products or processes. WIRED showcases all things trendy, giving me a jumpstart on ideas for cool new applications and products. I can try out new technology and software in prototype projects and once we’ve worked out the kinks in the system, others can follow.

Blazing trails and opening new pathways can be bloody business, but worth it if we can forge paths for others to follow. Those rushing in from behind may not notice the bloodstains under their feet, but who cares, as long as they’re stampeding through the opening we create.

What area of government offers the biggest opportunity for improvement via Web 2.0 tools?


Social media arms us for the “palace coup” within our entrenched power structures. Let’s face it, bureaucracy is all about layers of process and people, encrusted like fossils under the weight of decades upon decades of past decisions. We’ve always done things a certain way, communicating through stovepipe-like organizations with positions carefully crafted and revealed only after dozens of signatures.

Enter social media, and our ordered world collapses into chaos.

Here’s one tool to contribute to the glorious chaos: Twitter. Yes, I hear your grumbles already. I read all the fuss over the tediousness of Twitter highlighting what someone had for breakfast. All I can say is, I follow Tweeters who add value, interest, humor, and perspective. I’m not interested whether or not someone’s clothes need dry-cleaning. But, I AM interested in tweets about a dry-cleaner’s solvent that might cause cancer.

For me, Twitter opens up avenues of communication with folks, both inside and outside NASA – those who congregate around the watering hole we call space. We share a common passion, and love sharing our passion with others. At NASA, I admit we’re embracing Twitter and other social media tools only in “pockets of enlightenment,” as I like to call them. The battle is pretty bloody in other parts of our organization. But, this is to be expected, isn’t it? Social media is the great unknown. And, after all, we are “the government.” Big Brother. Uncle Sam. I can’t think of any bureaucracy that values change? Can you? But we’ll get there. Maybe not as quickly as some would like. By the time we get there, the world will change again, and we’ll start this process over.

The government: a perpetual work-in-progress.

What’s the killer app that will make Gov 2.0 the norm instead of the exception?

iPhone!!!! Let me repeat: iPhone! I know this isn’t what your question is asking for, but I have to say the iPhone transformed world, my ability to communicate – which gets back to my answer in #2.

I’m part of a NASA Headquarters’ prototype project to test the iPhone over the Blackberry. OMGosh! I can’t rave about it enough. With the Blackberry, I always felt like I was talking on Maxwell Smart’s Shoe Phone. I read e-mail. That’s about it. I know, I know. Blackberry has other features, but that’s all that I really messed with.

My beloved iPhone allows me to select and download apps, like Tweetie, which I aDORE! Once I started using Tweetie, I could post pics to Twitter instantly. TOTally freed me from my laptop. Now I could take pics in the midst of NASA events and post them immediately. I can bring followers WITH me to experience what NASA has to offer. I post pics of our astronauts discussing their missions; pics of our live feed from space from Mission Control; pics of the nation’s Capitol; business travel; and much much more. The iPhone allows me to share the amazing things we do at NASA in a way not possible through a press release or web feature. My tweeps get to come with me to Shuttle launches and tours of our facilities. Really. How cool is that?

Yep, hands down. iPhone.

What part of Gov 2.0 most excites you?

I love the fact that technology available today removes the old barriers of organization, geography, and time. We can hold conversations across the universe (literally) without a “badge” or invitation to “the meeting” or physical journey.

This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. All the tools we have within our reach must be approached with professional responsibility. We must measure what we communicate with reasoned good judgment and maturity. Some will abuse the freedom social media offers. But we can’t manage for the few. We can offer trust, and expect this trust to be honored.

I’m excited we can accomplish the “public good” in amazing new ways, totally unimaginable only a few years ago. We are poised at the edge of a new frontier. The bold will blaze the trail there. The others can follow.

On your mark! Get set! GO!!

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

2 Responses

  1. Colton Thomas

    Colton Thomas says that Beth Beck is his hero for watching him while his parent’s were in the VAB and Orbital Processing Facility!!


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