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Fed CIO Kundra: An Extraordinary Day In An Extraordinary Week

The media bubble enveloping federal CIO Vivek Kundra almost burst today as, in almost-simultaneous alerts, old-fogey-onliner the Wall Street Journal said his former offices had just been raided and equally ancient C-SPAN was posting video of a speech he'd just given. But the (media) day belonged to the Twittering

The media bubble enveloping federal CIO Vivek Kundra almost burst today as, in almost-simultaneous alerts, old-fogey-onliner the Wall Street Journal said his former offices had just been raided and equally ancient C-SPAN was posting video of a speech he'd just given. But the (media) day belonged to the Twittering classes, who saturated both events.Rarely has a fairly wonky government insider received such media acclaim: any search involving Kundra's name turns up several hundred results from just this past week. And while it might seem like we in the media have been blabbering about him for the past 18 months, it has in fact been only 7 days.

So this morning, as I was fully expecting to see the Web awash with giant headlines saying things like "KUNDRA: THE FIRST SEVEN DAYS" over throbbingly earnest stories chronicling how many Tweets per hour he averages and what sort of bottled water he drinks, it was a pleasure to see my colleague Nick Hoover's measured and informative news story based on a face-to-face interview with Kundra.

But, like a 16th-seed's halftime lead over a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the early morning's rationality gave way to the late morning's flurry about the raid of Kundra's former offices by the FBI. Officials from numerous agencies repeatedly emphasized that Kundra was not the subject of any investigation, and that their inquiries were aimed at an employee who worked on Kundra's former team in his former job as head of technology for Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, as the FBI was arresting his former colleague and searching his former offices, Kundra was giving a speech at a federal IT event in D.C. that had Beltway types, well, all atwitter. Here's an excerpt of some rather florid coverage from blogger Mayra Ruiz -- and for those of you who are susceptible to the lures of passionate prose, please read only while seated:

"During my live coverage of FOSE 2009's event this past week…the anticipation and excitement for Vivek Kundra's March 12 presentation was beyond palpable. Kundra is finally there, as I type these very words, and some of the amazing nuggets coming out of his presentation are being shared live by gov 2.0 tweeters who are there listening and live tweeting."

This blogger, her heart rate apparently back under 200, was then composed enough to assemble about three dozen "Live Kundra Tweets" from the audience, many of which reveal sky-high support for him: "Here's some of the super stuff tweeted about Kundra's presentation this morning on the role and state of gov 2.0 and gov IT: • Vivek Kundra - digital infrastructure...flow of ideas...european union has free movement of labor and currency.looking at fed infotech • Kundra: Industrial era made world a little smaller • Vivek Kundra - question self-image that the federal gov is behind. rejects idea. feds can and have led...DARPA & NSF...Human Genome.. • Vivek Kundra - what's being a is about "we the people"...participate in the civic process, hold officials accountable • modern economy is power by tech...we need to secure it...Hathaway conducting review, NOT limited to fed government • Kundra: at the agency level we'll roll out ways for people to engage the operations of govt • Gov can create a more perfect union thru tech, if carefully planned • Kundra: change the engagement model so people have access and can help co-create a more perfect union

You can read the rest at the link above, and as I said, many are certainly thought-provoking and no doubt, to some folks, inspiring. And while it's not my intent to sprinkle curmudgeon-dust in the punch bowl, I'm sure I wasn't the only person struck by not only the past week's media bender but also the juxtaposition of, on the one hand, these breathless tweets, and, on the other, the FBI agents tracking a trail of alleged corruption right to the very offices Kundra used to occupy.

So let's be fair to Vivek Kundra and give him more than a week before we decide to chisel his mug onto Mount Rushmore. And let's also remember that while echoing calls for the creation of "a more perfect union" can play really well in a room full of infatuated admirers, the new federal CIO will be judged not by what he says but by what he achieves. Even on this, the most extraordinary day in the most extraordinary week in the life of Vivek Kundra.

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