June 26, 2007 By News Report
Photo: Sweden's embassy in the virtual world of Second Life
The IBM Center for The Business of Government today announced a new report that examines the uses and benefits of social networks and blogging within the public sector.
The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0 details the growing acceptance of blogs as a tool for promoting both online and offline engagement of citizens and public agents.
The report, published by IBM and authored by Dr. David C. Wyld, Maurin Professor of Management and director of the Strategic e-Commerce/e-Government Initiative at Southeastern Louisiana University, details blogging activities by members of Congress, governors, city mayors, and police and fire departments, and provides insights on how blogging is used within agencies to improve internal communications and speed the flow of information.
While the use of blogging by political candidates has been highly publicized, less commonly known is the use of this communications medium inside government. According to the report, blogging has moved from the purview of teens and college students to mainstream businesses and government.
Web 2.0 is characterized by the rise of user-generated content on the Internet, where users no longer need to know anything about computer programming. Dr. Wyld's report is a snapshot of the early stages of Web 2.0, of which blogging is but one of the most publicized technologies used to create social networks. He also points to other Web 2.0 technologies, such as the creation of wikis -- where thousands of users can jointly collaborate in creating something such as the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Another fast-growing Web 2.0 phenomenon is 3-D immersive experiences, such as Second Life, where users assume a "virtual identity" and have a personal avatar -- an animated character -- that can shop, play, and learn online. About 100 universities use Second Life to conduct online seminars. Companies use it to conduct employee meetings. Government may someday use it to deliver services to constituents.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.