With great interest I am following the initiative from the Greek Government, regarding the introduction of a typical web 2.0 social network with the aim to provide a vision of Digital Greece for the year 2020. This effort is initiated from the Prime-minister’s consultants and has been running in “beta” mode for more than two months now, drawing some 380 members. On the technical side, the social net implementation is pretty straight-forward and is based on the open source platform WordPress / BuddyPress using the basic configuration, an expected facelift is imminent. On the content side though, nothing is yet discussed on the social net, the only content direction is the creation of 8 interests groups.
Entering the site this morning, I noticed the number of members interested in each group. I thought to process it and see if any trend is there. Indeed, as you can see below, the strongest group is the one related with education, R&D and innovation, followed by e-business. The weakest group is related to trust & security while a bit stronger is digital divide.
Using this trend, I realized yet again the difficulty for Greeks to grasp the Digital Era reality. This is the simple reality that the Digital Era is Global. No digital borders exist, information & services can be readily available from any point of the world to any point in the world that needs them. If we need to progress in the Digital Era and generate digital wealth as a nation, then we should at least produce more information & services comparing to what we will consume. From the group interests trends above I fail to understand how we can achieve this:
- e-business is second to education, R&D and innovation. How can e-business flourish if the outcome of this initiative is outweighed by the academic community? Will the academic community provide the digital wealth for Greece?
- Why innovation is connected more with education and not with e-business? Are we going to innovate for educational purposes?
- Although we are very interested in education, R&D and innovation, we neglect the NGA and the digital divide. Are we moving towards a stronger people class separation based on digital access & skills?
If you may agree with these remarks & questions, then you may wonder why these groups were created like this in the first place. Observing the current Greek government structure I think answers this question, however is this the way to look into the future till 2020? For sure not!
As a more democratic, bottom up approach, I could understand to leave the members to express their visions, interests and then group them. Grouping then serves the rules of taxonomy and is a consequence, not a precondition. Moderators may be “elected” as the ones most contributing to the groups, while accepted as leaders from the group members. These leaders may create wider audiences and disseminate the vision. It is evident that the visions & interests will shift in time, groups will become either more or less popular and the profile of the social net will be dynamic. It is this dynamic property of the social net which I believe can provide the catalyst of Digital Greece, yielding digital innovation that will result in digital wealth.