To the average person, government is represented by an anonymous person on the other end of the phone, a pile of mandatory paperwork, and perhaps at best a friendly neighborhood postal carrier. If you ask the average American not living inside the Beltway to name a single individual who works in the federal government, how would they reply? My guess is that the broad majority of them couldn't give you the first and last name of a federal government employee. In reality they would find it much easier to name their local pharmacist, garage owner, or supermarket manager. From the perspective of the government, this is a shame. How might emerging social technologies help to bridge that gap, in combination with a modification in thinking about government public relations?
Publishing “top 10” lists is unfortunately a staple of modern journalism. But alas, writers must drive readers’ eyeballs, even when discussing serious topics like the government. And so we find a new list that mixes Web 2.0 with the government: “Top 10 agencies with the most Facebook fans.” For the record, this list is topped by the White House with 327,592 fans, followed by the Marine Corps, Army, CDC, State Department, NASA, NASA JPL, Library of Congress, Air Force, and Environmental Protection Agency. Congratulations to all these hard-working agencies. But what exactly are we celebrating here?
In a recent CSPAN interview, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs noted that, “for some reason, Twitter is blocked on White House computers,” which created a minor frenzy among tech-savvy journalists ranging from UPI to The Hill. Later, news upstart Mediaite uncovered that the New Media team in the Old Executive Office Building could indeed access Twitter, but other people working on White House staff do not necessarily share the same privileges. This is all very interesting, but this story is far bigger than the White House, because it serves as a metaphor for rules governing social media tool use for the thousands of employees working throughout the Federal government.
Even professional writers are prone to infrequent accidental plagiarism. But in the world of novels, newspapers, and college exams, there are rules about bootlegging others’ work that are well-established – most everyone agrees on what behaviors are unacceptable and what the consequences are. In bantamweight publishing, however, the rules are not so clear.
Web technologies often allow you to scale things that weren't scalable before. Unfortunately, that list of scalable things includes spam. From unsolicited phone calls to unwanted emails to unnecessary tweets, it can seem like we're getting progressively overloaded with information we don't necessarily want. One group blamed for the increase in online spam are Twitter bots – Twitter accounts created…
Perhaps the most common reason given for joining the microsharing site Twitter is "participating in the conversation" or some version of that. I myself am guilty of using this explanation. But is Twitter truly a conversational platform? Here I argue that the underlying mechanics of Twitter more closely resemble the knowledge co-creation seen in wikis than the dynamics seen with…
More and more people from the private sector are interested in playing a role in government, thanks in no small part to the excitement surrounding the Obama election and inauguration, in which social media technologies and information sharing were showcased at their best – massive fundraising from many small donors, empowering people to self-organize locally, and direct public relations that circumvented a mainstream media lens. Now, people enamoured with emergent social technologies want to know how they themselves can revolutionize not only politics, but also governance.