Government Technology
By Jim Stanton: The new dynamics of communication and collaboration under crisis.

The YouTube Revolution is With Us

June 18, 2010 By Jim Stanton

When YouTube first came on the scene it was dismissed by mainstream communicators as one of those blips on the radar screen that would soon pass on.

How wrong can you be?

Today we see YouTube used by media-savvy U.S. politicians. When President Obama was running for the presidency, his communication staff prepared brilliantly crafted YouTube productions that achieved an estimated 14.5 million viewing hours. How could one ever hope to obtain that sort of reach with a regular TV commercial?

Canada's Prime Minister, Steven Harper, has gone the YouTube route as well to reach the younger demographics and was successful in getting his messages across.

Susan Boyle's, I Have A Dream CD had 400 million video hits on Web sites within nine days. The Los Angeles Times said, "Her popularity on YouTube may in part be due to the broad range of emotion packed into a short clip which was perfect for the Internet." I Have a Dream is the fastest selling CD in history, all due to YouTube.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and many state and local police agencies are now producing videos to be shown on YouTube as an extension of the old Crime Stoppers programs. These are meeting with increasing success in nailing the bad guys.

New York City's prestigious Guggenheim Museum and YouTube recently launched a competition to search for the most creative videos and expand on the idea of what video can be. Named "YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Videos," the project will select 20 videos to be presented at the Guggenheim on October 21st and simultaneously in Berlin, Bilbao and Venice.

Guggenheim Foundation Deputy Director, Nancy Spector said, "We're not looking for what is now, we're looking for what is next."

You know you have created an instrument of change when governments want to shut you down. Iran and North Korea, to name just two countries, have both implemented powerful national firewalls to block access to YouTube because they want to control what their citizens can see.

Psiphon, is a Web proxy designed to help Internet users securely bypass the content-filtering systems used to censor the Internet by governments. Psiphon was developed by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, building upon previous generations of Web proxy software systems, such as the "SafeWeb" and "Anonymizer" systems.

In 2008 Psiphon was spun off as a Canadian corporation that continues to develop advanced censorship circumvention systems and technologies. Psiphon maintains its research and development lab and computer network "red team" at The Citizen Lab, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto.

YouTube also calls into question the need for traditional networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, BBC, etc.

Jeffrey Macpherson has come up with a brilliant idea for TV stardom: use YouTube to create your audience. The 32-year-old Canadian has emerged as an early break-out star in the new era of video podcasting.

Macpherson stars in "Tiki Bar TV," a periodic series of quirky, vignettes -- each lasting only a few minutes. They are available only by download from his web site, or Apple's iTunes service for the iPod.

The series has won a rabid following since debuting last year. Each segment draws approximately 300,000 or so viewers, rivaling the reach of many cable shows.

When disasters occur, folks are on the scene before first responders arrive, streaming live video shots of the incident to the world at large. I would like to suggest YouTube is causing the same shift in literacy as the Gutenberg bible did in 1452-53.

My position is that we have only just begun to understand the power and reach of YouTube.

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iPad Surges into the Market (And into Government Service)

April 13, 2010 By Jim Stanton

iPad 44.jpg The iPad launch is the death knell for Kendel - 300,000 iPads sold on day one in the USA alone.

The day Apple launched its eagerly awaited iPad, Sony was running ads offering their top of the line Kendel Reader Touch Edition, featuring a 6" touchscreen display for $299.99. Down from $699.99.

Who wants a small, black and white screen, that really only functions as a book, when you can have a larger, 9.7" beautiful color screen iPad that lets you read books, manage your e-mail, send and receive photos, handle your Twitter and Facebook accounts, or watch a movie?

The 9.7" LED back-lit IPS screen (in-plane switching - the liquid crystals are aligned horizontally instead of at an angle providing almost perfect color reproduction) has a remarkably precise Multi-Touch screen.

Right now you will find over 1000 Apps available on-line at the App Store. The new iPad can run almost 150,000 Apps for iPhone, iTouch, including the Apps you already have.

Things open fast, scroll fast, load fast. Surfing the Web is a heck of a lot better than on the tiny iPhone screen -- first, because it's so fast, and second, because you don't have to do nearly as much zooming and panning.

It works with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 or 2007, so you can get push email, calendar events, and contacts securely over the air. You can also search for messages in your inbox and on the server, create and manage calendar invitations, find directions to your next meeting, and search your Global Address List.

In addition to Exchange, iPad connects to open standards-based servers for mail, calendar, and contacts. Sync with IMAP mail servers and search the mail server from your iPad. Integrate with CalDAV-compliant calendar servers such as iCal Server and Oracle Beehive. And find colleagues fast by searching LDAP servers from either the Mail or Contacts app on your iPad.

At least on Washington State Emergency Management agency has ordered iPads for use by its emergency operations center members. They will have the iPad with them in the EOC (Emergency Operations Center), it will be synchronized to the mainframe data.

When members have to leave the EOC, they can take the iPad with them. This is so much more effective that lugging around a three-ring binder of a CD that won't "read" at the most critical moment.

Cell phone manufacturers are also concerned about iPads. iPad users will incorporate VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) as their wireless link and will not need a cell phone. Skype and other such systems can look forward to expanded client interest.

Techies hate the iPad because it doesn't have a mouse, non-techies love it for the same reason. Love it or hate it, it is the future.

Have you ordered your new iPad yet?

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Mingleverse Creates New Virtual Meeting Space

December 7, 2009 By Jim Stanton

mingleverse.jpg Have you heard of Mingleverse? It's one of the newest Media 2.0 trends.

Mingleverse Laboratories Inc. ( is a multiple award winning start-up company providing participants with the newest form of online and mobile communications.

The National Hockey League Vancouver Canucks are one of the first organizations to use Mingleverse to create virtual meeting spots where fans can wander around and chat in 3-D sound.

Up to 50 people can can convene in virtual meeting spots and interact with a 3-D voice, audio and visual telecommunications as though they were meeting together in real life.

Mingleverse allows participants to share presentations with people in the room, show videos and share slide presentations and other content.

Along with sports teams, the idea has attracted the attention of Disney Interactive Studios who see potential for giving kids a way to met with their favorite Disney characters. Howard Donaldson, Disney's Vice President of Studio Operations said," I think it is something really unique and it represents the future of how people are going to communicate and collaborate."

The MingleRoom  service delivers the first "Immersive Social Communications Experience" with natural, human interactions through the use of immersive 3D voice, sound, graphics and video.

MingleRooms are available for everyone that wants to engage others personally from across the city or from across the world in a way that feels just as real as being there!

MingleRooms can be configured instantly to accommodate from 2 people to groups of up to 50 people simultaneously - all through a simple click of web browser and without having to leave home.

Within the first six weeks of its operations more than 10,000 mingles had been hosted at the site.

Mingles can be open to the public or they can be invitation only. Hosts can determine if they will be free or charge an admission. Mingles also chart the carbon emissions saved by the virtual meetings.

The company which is privately funded, recently received seed money from Telefilm Canada for its upcoming uVenu projects for entertainment-based mingles.

Stand by for more developments!

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Leading Organizations Are Embracing the New Media

September 22, 2009 By Jim Stanton

OEM Facebook.jpg Who would have thought that America's biggest and in some ways most traditional administrations would be one of the first megalopolis' to have a Facebook site for its Office of Emergency Management (OEM)?

Earlier this year, Mayor Blumberg encouraged all New Yorkers to sign in at:

NYC's OEM established a Facebook site to advise New Yorkers about the importance of planning for emergencies like severe storms, heat waves, pandemics, etc.

The site provides "Tips of the Week" that encourages folks to become involved in the city's emergency programs such as Block Captains. Here's a recent T"ip of the Week:"

OEM urges business owners to back up their contact information for employees, customers, and suppliers. Plan ways to communicate with your clients so that you can continue to serve them during and after a disaster. Store important documents in waterproof containers and keep second copies in an off-site location.

This site is a real trail blazer as it shows how effectively the New Media can be used to communicate immediately with a wide arrange of audiences who might normally not get such direct information.

Lululemon Athletica, self-described as a yoga-inspired athletic apparel company, with over 115 stores in North America and Australia is embracing social networking in a big way to keep lines of communication open with potential and current employees.

Lululemon's on-line community manager, Carolyn Coles, says. "having the ability to use Twitter, Facebook, bloging, and Flikr helps to keep everyone connected at every level and really elevates internal communications."

The company encourages all of its stores to set up their own Facebook and Twitter pages. Employees can help educate each other online, share ideas, post stories and help new hires feel like they are part of the company.

Given that many retail employees are in the 18-24 age bracket, social networking is second nature to them. These people have been on Facebook and MySpace since they launched.

Social networking is also a way for employees to be seen as unique individuals in a company's eyes. Each time a person uses a blog or posts something on Facebook, they leave a footprint and establish a connection with the employer. Some say it's the way of the future, for innovators like Lululemon, its going on right now.

In these tough new economic times, retailers who don't use the New Media do so at their own peril.

Colleges and universities across the U.S. are hiring tenure track professors in mass communications with an emphasis on the new media. The Department of Journalism and Central Michigan University (CMU) recently advertised for such a position to begin in August 2010.

CMU is looking for a candidate with a distinguished professional record in new media and an MA or MFA with an emphasis in new media and university teaching experience in a mass-communications-related field. Candidates must have a demonstrated commitment to teaching introduction to new media, web design, digital media production, graphic design and other courses as appropriate to the needs of the department and the candidate's interest and expertise.

Strengths are required in news/editorial and/or advertising; ability to teach senior-level courses in new media; significant professional experience in new media is preferred for consideration in the academic track. ?

In Fayetteville, Arkansas, comments posted by an Arkansas student on Twitter while three schoolmates were being investigated for an alleged infraction has prompted a first for the athletic department. The student has been punished for violating the school's new social networking guidelines.

"This is the first time since we've had a policy on social networking that we've had a penalty associated," Athletic Director Long said. "I think prior to the policy, we had some that were borderline and could've been punished. But this is the first one that falls under our policy."

Arkansas' social networking guidelines were put in place in time for the fall semester. Every athlete on campus was required to sign and date the paperwork.

"We have the policy and students sign that they've read the policy and we explain the policy, so I think we've taken a very proactive stance," Long said. "We've educated them in advance. But do I think this will serve as a message to the rest of our 460-something student-athletes? Yes."

Like it or not, folks, the New Media is here to stay. Innovative business and government agencies will embrace it or become irrelevant in the minds of potential clients, staff and students.

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Survival and Adaptation in the New Media Age

July 13, 2009 By Jim Stanton

Bishop Gerald Kicanas 2.jpg What do the Roman Catholic church and the city of New York have in common? Both are using the New Media to expand their audience reach.

Let's first look at how the Roman Catholic church is making use of the New media. According to a recent statement by Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, AZ, in the Catholic News Service, America's Roman Catholic church's great communications challenge today is to "keep the interest of people who have so many places to turn."

Bishop Kicanas argued that the church should not hesitate "to engage the modern digital technologies," which "can be vehicles for communicating." Given recent advances in communications technology, Kicanas noted that people today Twitter and blog, they e-mail, use Skype, Blackberries and iPhones, and choose Facebook partners.

"Communication, while enhanced by technology, rests on the power of the message and the authenticity of the communicator," he said.
"Technology facilitates the fundamental desire" people have to communicate and engage one another.

With "effective communications" as its theme, the June 24-26 meeting of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management examined the potential of a new universe of communications for the church.

Participants included Catholic bishops, educators, leaders in business, finance and philanthropy, and priests, sisters and lay leaders.

Bishop Kicanas described himself as a blogger of sorts. The online "Monday Memo" he writes weekly to the Tucson Diocese is presented as a kind of blog on their Web site and is sent out to an e-mail readership.

"People today want to be in the know," he said. "We live in an information society, a mass media culture." There are no secrets in the Twitter, cell-phone, Internet world," Bishop Kicanas said, "It is best and right to get out with the story as it is. That alone could tell the truth."

Bishop Kicanas urged the leadership organization to "help the church at every level to acquire and become proficient in communications and information technology" and to help it "develop interactive forms of communication that engage others, especially the young." Web sites move beyond providing information to inviting user participation.

"My Catholic Voice" is an Internet and wireless service primarily for young people between 18 and 35, Kicanas said, "It employs "the best Internet technologies and social networking capabilities" to share Catholic faith via what is called "Web 2.0."

Secondly, it's interesting to see how a metropolis like New York City NYC)is adapting to the New Media in it's commitment to reach out to new audiences.

Recently, the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM) announced its foray into the social media world with help from Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer Christopher Kelly and NYC News Channel 11's Larry Hoff.

NYC's Office of Emergency Management have established a Facebook site to be the official source for information about emergency events and important City services. Citizens can sign up to receive emergency notifications through phone calls, emails, or text messages.

NYC's Office of Emergency Management are sending out tips like these:

"During the summer, New York City can be as much as 10 degrees hotter than surrounding areas. OEM reminds New Yorkers to beat the heat this summer by staying out of the sun during its peak hours, 11 AM to 4 PM. If you have to be in the sun, wear sunscreen and a hat to protect your face and head."

"All New York City public schools will be open Monday, June 8. However, OEM continues to remind New Yorkers of habits to reduce the spread of influenza and other germs."

"Opening fire hydrants is a common way to cool off during New York City's sweltering summers, but hydrants without spray caps waste 1,000 gallons of water per minute and can lower water pressure throughout the system. Firefighters need high water pressure to fight fires. OEM reminds New Yorkers to ask for the right tools when using hydrants to stay cool. Contact your local firehouse to obtain a spray cap, or call

Another innovative use of Facebook, is to encourage New Yorkers to join the Citizen Corps Council on-line and partner with OEM to make New York City a safer and stronger city, and to join a Community Emergency Response Team in your neighborhood.

The also offer a "Tip of the Week" such as:

"Insure So You Can Rest Assured." Homeowners insurance does not cover property damage caused by flooding. The U.S. National Flood Insurance Program offers flood insurance at a low cost to homeowners and businesses in participating communities. Get prepared by finding insurance that works for you."

Instead of wringing their hands and crying the blues about information overload, these two traditional organizations are using non-traditional methods to expand their audience reach.  Welcome to Web 2.0

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Government Best Practices

Web 2.0 Convergence
Jim Stanton

Convergence in the context of media refers to the technology driven unification of different media channels. This column will help facilitate convergence in a way that will allow local (as well as federal and state) officials to operate collaboratively in a much more efficient manner, particularly under the dynamic stresses imposed by disaster management.