For the past few days I’ve been mulling over the announcement of a new social networking system for Federal employess. According to an April 27 article in the Federal Times, it will be unveiled later this year. At first I had a cynical reaction along the lines of, “Oh great. Just what we need. Another social networking tool.” But then I started thinking about what it could become, and I decided to be more optimistic.
First, I look forward to FedSpace introducing a new group of people to the utility and serendipity of social networking and Web 2.0. I’ve talked to quite a few Federal employees who are hesitant to join public social networking sites (like this one) due to privacy issues, lack of official endorsement, or simply because social networking sites are blocked at their agency. Fedspace won’t have those same drawbacks, so hopefully it will get more people to dip their toe in the Web 2.0 pool… And since many GovLoopers will also join FedSpace, I hope to see some good cross-pollenation between the two communities.
One of the things I think most people love about the Internet is discoverability and portability. Google crawls the net 24/7/365 and enables us to find obscure (but publicly-posted) information seconds (or minutes). And through the “magic” of APIs, we’re able to update our status on GovLoop and with the click of a button pass the same info to Twitter and Facebook.
The more I use the Internet, and the easier it becomes to find and share information, the more I realize I want these capabilitites behind the firewall too! As far as I know, we haven’t been able to replicate that behind the Federal firewall on any large scale. (DoD’s DISA and ODNI’s ICES are working on the discoverability issue for the national security community with something called Enteprise Search, but they haven’t quite cracked the nut yet.) The Pollyanna in me hopes that FedSpace developers are working toward providing these capabilities, and that their plans include linking to other behind-the-firewall Federal communities, like OMB Max, rather than keeping each of them separate.
Will you join me in my campaign of optimism?