Technology and information are just tools, but the messaging is the key in getting people to engage their governments.

This was one of the important lessons drawn from group discussions among Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and government officials in the second day of the Technology and Open Government: A Collaborative Learning Event, an ‘unconference’ designed to spark cooperation and collaboration among CSOs and government agencies on how to push the idea of open governance through technology initiatives. The activity is spearheaded by the Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Intiative, a partnership between the Omidyar Network and Hivos, and the Making All Voices Count Global Initiative.

Some of the lessons learned by the participants from fellow participants:

  • Technology is only a tool, not the end in itself;
  • Learning the technology is actually the easier phase; drafting the message is the harder;
  • It is difficult to sustain movements and advocacies through technology alone;
  • Technology and social media are sometimes overly romanticized, but it should not end with them;
  • Open data is not equivalent to open government;
  • In using technology for advocacy and learning, it is important to keep interest up and have a follow through;
  • the magic of social media is in getting people online to continue the work and spread the advocacy offline.

Participants also learned that while open governance is important, implementing reforms in the back end is even more crucial. This includes the need for the government to improve its record keeping and record management systems.

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