Real. Simple. Social. Enabling fellow public servants in a push for improved online presence and engagement.

Ironically my division at work used to have the acronym RSS. Confusing for a web management division. A change of acronyms later, and I am still holding onto my own RSS principle. Real. Simple. Social.

More and more often I am being called upon to provide small groups in the policy and advocacy streams with the how, why and who of Twitter. (Full disclosure, I am by no means near being a social media expert. I am, however, passionate and a believer in ‘utility sells.’ It’s working.) Steam is gathering and my ongoing push for our one-way, boxed in websites to bust open to and with the public is beginning to bleed into other worlds in my department.

Org charts are the bureaucracy. What box do I work in? Report to? Engage with to engage others? Fortunately, social media is bringing the public back to the public service. Nick Charney has a great presentation and piece on social media for public servants.

In my world, one of managing and setting the course for a public online presence, it continues to be challenging to take advantage of the richness of opportunity social media provides. Simple. Audience rich. Measurable. Should be music to many ears. The push for internal collaboration and connection behind the firewall needs to be equaled in the public online domain.

And so, I take up this charge and spread the good word – showing officers how they can easily, from the comfort of their own desk chair, home, mobile device, extend beyond their traditional networks and annual conferences and leverage social networks to find those with the voices, the ears of others, the new thinking or proven approaches.

Among my current arsenal?

* RSS feeds and readers. (It’s shocking how many political news junkies manage – likely barely – to visit 30+ news sites each day.) This alone has earned me cape-wearing status.
* Technorati
* LinkedIn
* Twitter

It’s a basic and short list but addresses the most common identified issues and concerns (too much news, too much ‘noise.’)

Should there be internal evangelists doing this daily? In the government, yes, until such time as mainstream meets government stream. Should there be a balance between the push for all wiki all the time and officers stretching beyond their comfort zones. Definitely. Until then, I will continue this quest in an effort to gain champions in program areas who will begin to expect and demand more of our online presence and interactions.

By spreading the word of the connected outside world to my inside world, the sides of those org boxes and website boxes will continue to crumble.

From my lips…..


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Adam Arthur

Great post. It’s perfectly in-line to what I’m saying in my blog article today…( https://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/why-not-to-throw-out-your ).

The one thing that I would like to add to your post is that a “Mashed” program can provide all of us even more flexibility. To “Mash” a program, you take the open source or API versions of two or more different services and put them together to accomplish multiple tasks at the same time.

To become more of a hero in your office, turn your staff on to http://www.statenewslines.com . This takes RSS to a entirely different level. Imagine, seeing ANY news feed from national, state, and local sources- all displayed for you on one page…updated every minute!!!! You will love this one. Cheers!

Joe Flood

Every government site should publish an RSS feed. Perhaps by showing people the utility of RSS it will prompt this change. Good luck in your quest!

Bill Finnerty

Keep up your advocacy. By picking and choosing your spots in promoting your philosophy you are hitting on a key to success, a solution must not only be simple to use but also not forced. It must fit a need and be useful.

Chris L. Latendresse

“bringing the public back to the public service” great line.

This is the aspect of Government 2.0 that interests me in Canada. I have been looking for information or studies in the area of accessibility and inclusion focusing on Internet and computer access, skills and competencies to participate in online civic engagement and deliberative democracy, what are they interested in, what services do they want to have access to, what social computing platforms are they on and what do they use them for, etc.

You are correct, there still seems to be a lot of focus still on the ‘build it and they will come’ mindset rather than ‘where are they, let’s reach out to them’ strategy. The US Gov with the Obama Administration has really turned this around, with the launch of data.gov, it’s begging for third-parties and intermediaries to use the data feeds for ‘mashup’ style services and products, a real value-add for the public. More so, you see the US gov at all levels working with the major platforms, such as the US Gov channel on YouTube, or the new ‘Pages’ format on Facebook for organizations…this is the new way forward.

In my opinion, Government 2.0 is hitting the tipping point (just as the Gartner Hype Cycle for Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 predicted”, 2009-10 will be defining years, the sell for Web 2.0 should get much easier.

Martha McLean

HI Chris,

Tipping point indeed! I’ve been thrilled with the momentum the new administration in the US has created for all things Web 2.0. More impressive is how quickly things are moving, and in the right directions! Connecting with citizens, adoption of new media etc. Having senior leadership championing these initiatives clearly helps. I think there are pockets in the GoC starting to shine through and it’s my hope the internal roadblocks will start to disappear. We should no longer need to sell web 2.0, people need to start selling communicators on why we should not be doing it! We’re risking being absent from, or obsolete in discussions about policies we create.

Thanks for the comments!