Responsible engagement and dialogue

For my first installment I offer for your opinion my thoughts on working in this New Media environment. I must caveat this with the comment that this represents my personal opinion and is not to be construed in any way to be official DoD policy. My views do not necessarily represent those of the Department of Defense or the Defense Media Activity.

The new media tools have changed the dynamics of the global information environment. The Internet gives us the impact of television, the immediacy of radio, the depth of print, the quickness of a billboard, and the permanence of books. What is published on the Web is a persistent presence in a public domain.

This is a new model of communication. It is not mass communication, but masses of communicators. Dr. David Perlmutter in his book Blog Wars describes individuals self aggregating around ideas outside of political, geographic, or technological boundaries. Pierre Teilhard de Cardin’s concept of the noosphere is manifest in the individual interactions that occur publicly in the communication of masses.

Social computing can empower government professionals as global professionals and as global citizens to help others learn of government business and to learn from our many constituents what their needs are. It is an emerging business and societal ecosystem that is growing and which expects contribution and value to, and from, all participants.

Following are my guidelines borrowed shamelessly from the IBM Social Computing Guidelines.

History in a nutshell

Being sociable: Know and do

The same principles, policies, and guidance that governs goverment professional’s activities in general apply to activities online.

Honor – Trust and personal responsibility are core values. Don’t violate them. Your family, friends, coworkers, and the public expect this of you. Honor them, honor your audience, honor your organization, and honor the U.S.

Iintegrity – Be who you are. Some in the blogosphere work anonymously or under pen names and many have valid reasons for doing so. I would discourage that for government professionals as it may appear to be less than honest. If you are blogging about your area of work, let your audience know who you are and your work responsibilities. I encourage you to be open and honest. Stay in your lane and speak to what you know. And speaking of jobs, don’t forget we pay you to do something probably other than blogging. Make sure it doesn’t suffer.

Security – Don’t give out personal, priviledged, proprietary or classified information. Protect it. Know the rules. We have policies. Look them up.

Transparency – Stick to what you know, provide links, citations, references. Facilitate learning. Help people learn all they want to about your area of responsibility. If it’s out of your lane, point them in the right direction.

Objectivity – Everyone has an opinion. Stick to the facts and don’t pick fights.

Respect – Your audience, coworkers, family, and friends. Don’t use racial slurs, personal insults, obscenities, or engage in behavior that would be unacceptable in the office or in any public venue. Respect copyright and fair use laws. Know what slander and libel are and don’t do it.

Yourself – Be authentic and genuine. Speak in the first person, be thoughtful and present yourself in ways that show respect to those that know you and those who would want to know you. Take responsibility for what you publish and be the first to repond to your own mistakes. You are responsible for what you publish. Use your best judgment, add value to the conversation and represent us well.


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Adriel Hampton

Great first post Jack! I think many of the effective users of social media are coming to agreement on these basic principles, which already govern most of our other communication. I love this: “The Internet gives us the impact of television, the immediacy of radio, the depth of print, the quickness of a billboard, and the permanence of books.”