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My Vision for FedSpace (even though nobody asked me)

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?

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Brock Webb

I would agree from my research that security was a big deal for those in the DoD/IC … the thing that is nice about Ning is that I can belong to several different communities with one ID/password. I don’t know if “FedSpace” is using the same technology as A-Space and MilBook, I just hope it uses some kind of open framework for the future minded expansion/interoperability with other information as well.

BTW… What’s up with all this “Space” IC: A-Space; NASA: SpaceBook; now FedSpace? Its now beating out the use of “book” for the moment. Perhaps I need to start another one called MyBookFaceSpace and get one name to rule them all! XD

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

Great post! I think another great benefit that I would like to see added to FedSpace is the ability to host apps so that Federal employees can create a virtual desktop that they can use from home or traveling. I know that some will say that we have that capability now but, IMHO, Citrix just isn’t that effective and effecient when compared to Google Apps or Zoho Apps.

Adriel Hampton

Agreed. Just hope there will be cross-collaboration so those of us working in local and state gov can contribute/benefit.

Teri Centner

I like the way you think, Bill! I have plenty of optimism left over to hope for FedSpace to morph into — or merge with — a FedCloud, complete with MyFed (w/widgets!) and FedApps.

Christopher Parente

Can’t see how this can be anything but positive. I’d also would say that socmed communities rise or fall based on participation.

If someone works somewhere that blocks all access, well then they may flock to FedSpace. On the other hand, someone who doesn’t participate now b/c there isn’t any “official endorsement” probably won’t. IMHO that doesn’t sound like the mind-set of someone who’s ready to dive in. I guess we’ll see — GovLoop has set the bar pretty high for growth!

Steve Radick

I’ve spoken with some of the FedSpace people before and can tell you that the creation of a “FedSpace Connect” type feature has been discussed where you could log into FedSpace using your milSuite, Intelink, Spacebook, etc. and vice versa. Now, discussing the idea and actually implementing it are two totally different things. But yes, portability of authentication and profile information is something that’s been discussed, but it’s a HUGE nut to crack.