Last week, I participated in the Gov 2.0 Boot Camp in Knoxville, TN, delivering a presentation on “Social Virtual Networks and Government.” A couple days after the event, I received a social media presenter’s greatest reward: an unexpected tweet from a Twitter newbie.
1. What is your position and the activities that you perform for your job?
I wear two hats: Web Developer at the US Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) and Program Manager for NCI Information Systems, Inc. My web focus is on developing standard and accessible web pages that contribute to OSTI’s mission of broadly sharing scientific research with DOE researchers and the public.
2. What had been your experience with social media – personally or professionally – prior to the Gov 2.0 Boot Camp?
I’m a member of OSTI’s Web 2.0 Innovation team, charged with vetting Web 2.0 capabilities such as wikis, widgets, social media design, RSS monitoring, and mobile computing. These capabilities support OSTI’s vision for accelerating science by speeding access to science information. My experience includes widget and RSS development and Facebook and blogging participation.
3. What were your concerns or fears about using some of the social media tools?
I’m concerned with personal privacy and with accessibility of social media tools for persons with disabilities. I very much enjoyed Linda Cureton’s (CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) statements at Web 2.0 Government Boot Camp about common sense relative to privacy: if you are going to use social media, be careful about what you share. As to accessibility issues, I have found that many applications can be accessible for users of screen readers. On Twitter, I’m following the experts at WebAIM.org who provide training and resources to promote web accessibility.
4. What did you hear during the workshop sessions that motivated you to expand your engagement with social media and get started at GovLoop and Twitter (and other places, if applicable)?
I saw the potential of Web 2.0 applications in new ways. In fact, I had not considered using Twitter in my professional life, until I saw your overview – Social Virtual Networking. I’m definitely a member of Generation C: “Someone of any age who is actively using social media and engaging others on the Internet with a ‘2.0’ mindset: creative, collaborative and community oriented.” Boot Camp provided great examples of the collaborative possibilities of Twitter, the communities of Facebook, and the shared information found in virtual networks, such as Virtual Alabama. We were also introduced to tools such as Sketchup and TweetDeck.
5. You mentioned that you were already seeing the benefits – can you tell me more about that statement.
Through Twitter, I quickly connected with experts and found resources. One of our younger staff members joined Twitter the day after Boot Camp and invited me to join. I searched Twitter for my favorite experts in the fields of web accessibility, usability, and standards. As soon as I found Jared Smith and Jon Whiting from WebAIM, I came across new information for my craft – a most interesting survey of screen reader users.
What better way to find new information than to follow the thoughts of experts in the field? This is just one example of the connection and collaboration possible through social networks.
6. How/Do you plan to use these tools for your individual, professional activity?
A search of Twitter tags for #earthday produced “trusted content” for a feature on ScienceLab, OSTI’s site for students and educators. That gave a practical meaning to “trusted search”, a term used at Boot Camp. This efficient use of Twitter will become part of my development process.
I will continue to ‘follow’ experts in Twitter to glean information on the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which I plan to summarize and share with OSTI product managers.
7. How do you envision using these tools to improve organizational processes or activities?
OSTI has an interest in social media policy across the federal government. GovLoop will become one of our resources for policy discussions and information from the government community.
OSTI is already using an internal blog to share social media news and vet new applications. Boot Camp prompted me to consider writing an internal blog for NCI staff, providing direct access to forms and policy, in addition to providing opportunity for commenting.
8. Anything else that you’d like to share that may help others to begin using social media?
Government 2.0 Boot Camp discussions included information about ideas “going viral.” Our experiences with search widgets, an OSTI Facebook page, and most recently with Twitter, illustrate viral development on a small scale. The Internet is becoming a more connected and interactive place. Social networking applications will enhance government efficiency and productivity.
THANK YOU, Nena, for sharing your thoughts with us! And welcome to the Goverati!
Originally published at the GenerationShift blog.