Government Technology
By Bill Schrier: Making technology work for a city government.

Twitter, Facebook not ready for Government 2.0?

March 22, 2009 By

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"Web 2.0" is taking the Internet by storm. Use of Facebook (and similar sites) has exploded and may even have become passé for some people. Even that notorious bastion of anti-change troglodytes, the U.S. Congress, apparently loves Twitter.

But, amazingly enough, social networking tools may not be of much use to local government, unless there are significant improvements or new applications.

This subject of this blog is basically: how do social media companies and local governments need to change to really bring social networking "to the people"?

Why do local governments (cities and counties) even exist? The answer to this question is easy: these are the governments most visible and directly involved in the daily lives of most people (although you certainly wouldn't know that by looking at newspaper headlines, the evening TV news and the blogosphere where the fedgov gets a lot more square inches of newspaper or computer monitor space).


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Comments

mitsigma-mb@yahoo.com    |    Commented March 23, 2009

I think we're closer than you think... If more people understood Facebook's privacy controls and how to manage contacts, I think FB could be used for almost all purposes you mention. (http://www.allfacebook.com/2009/02/facebook-privacy/ ) As far as Twitter and GPS goes, I've seen people with iPhones send their LAT/LONG info on occasion. And if the iPhone has it, you can be sure it's coming soon to a cheaper phone near you. Especially after the avalanche rescue the other day. (http://www.bytesurgery.com/blog/2009/03/03/rescue-playing-out-live-on-twitter/)

k8lf@comcast.net    |    Commented March 27, 2009

An excellent point... the digital divide. Some people might be ready for YOU 2.0 but others are at barely at YOU 0.5. There is a tremendous digital divide that may be widening with the economic crisis. Utility bills are being rotated and the Internet is not a primary requirement. Minimally, its pay stature is lower than the phone bill. For a successful GOV 2.0, one has to ensure that the population is being represented and that the government is truly responding to the people. On the other hand, there is the wisdom of crowds and does it suggest that the crowds have to be representative or that definitionally they end up distributing themselves and becoming "the masses." The biggest challenge for local government is infrastruture. We still don't have onramps for everyone to get on the digital highway. The most interesting aspect of all of this to me is the value of volume and aggregation. And the simulataneous dilemma it causes of information overload. Are we going to see Twitter PTSD?

david.hardaway@dallascityhall.com    |    Commented March 31, 2009

We're already on it at the Dallas OEM, check us out: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Dallas-TX/City-of-Dallas-Office-of-Emergency-Management/55008266155

mail@frommybottomstep.com    |    Commented April 3, 2009

As a London, Ontario community activist, I've long advocated that the City offer citizens the opportunity to subscribe to subject-specific areas of interest (eg. by-laws, traffic, etc). The ability for municipalities to do so has long existed in the form of Mailing List Manager (MLM) software (eg. Majordomo), and it's even easier now with the advent of Really Simple Syndication (RSS). What hasn't existed so far is the political will. And it probably won't, until citizens demand it loudly enough. Because although politicians may like media to cover their carefully-constructed sound bites, their support of greater transparency is usually just rhetorical.

zachprez@yahoo.com    |    Commented April 7, 2009

Valid arguments certainly. I think the benefit of having a mayor-type on Twitter is accessibility. There's no other way for government officials to get adequately connected to the actual public, and in a manageable manner. @replies are much easier to respond to than emails/letters/phone and also more public - so a mayor doesn't have to respond to the same question multiple times. Also allows for government to "push" content or request action in an immediate timeframe without spamming. They are coming to where the public already is (i.e not checking news government websites) so I think it's the only way to go.

noorkah@msn.com    |    Commented June 4, 2009

What about public records requests wanting the lists of all "Followers"?

clift@e-democracy.org    |    Commented August 5, 2010

Bill, just bumped into your post about connecting neighbors online. I think you might find the open source http://neighbor.be exploration to be of direct interest. Steven Clift E-Democracy.org P.S. Also note: http://e-democracy.org/locals


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