To be honest, I wasn’t sure if her post made me feel uncomfortable or whether I was fine with it. I gave myself a week to think about it, and to absorb insight and advice from others (thanks!). A lot of people don’t understand why some of us use social media to have conversations. Some people have told me to lay low, not continue this dialogue online, not say what I think on Yammer or Twitter (which people are increasingly using in our organization).
Except…many people are talking about their work in the public service, online (like on Govloop). And I think it’s great. So, I’ve decided to keep doing it. This is why:
- I want to practice what I preach, and what I preach is that open government is the way to go. As public servants, we have an opportunity to model being open and transparent. Pushing comfort zones and re-defining boundaries is needed to affect change in the world. The transition from closed to open is going to be uncomfortable and create some tensions for politicians, citizens, etc. If I’m going to be part of the change, then I’m going to have to accept feeling uncomfortable myself, and making others uncomfortable sometimes.
- I like virtual water cooler chats. Microblogging enables those little sweet diversions that inspire and connect dots and people.
- It provides an opportunity for more trust. Here’s my logic: if Nick and Rueben never started blogging and Steve hadn’t started GovLoop, then I’d be less likely to ask them for help with my work. The online dialogue they’re engaged in gives me insight into what they think and value, and I can see that we care about the same things. People who tweet and yam and blog do so not because it’s in their job description, but rather, because they are genuinely passionate about some aspect of government. And if they’re passionate about government, chances are I have a few goals and values in common with them. I trust that we’re on the same team even if we don’t always agree. I trust that when we disagree, we can talk about it, and still work well together.
- It makes me feel part of a bigger team. I like getting tweets and yam updates about what people are working on and thinking. The mosaic of updates helps me stay focused on the big picture of what we’re all doing as public servants. This bigger team includes my organization, public servants in general, and anyone interested in open gov.
- It provokes thought and therefore creates reality. Artists write and paint their stories, and through those stories, they create and reflect a shared understanding of the world. Govloop and other social media sites are places where we can share stories. Pieced together, these narratives create patterns and define direction, in turn creating the mold for the future of government. I want to be part of that story.
- I like creating waves. Online conversation isn’t for everyone, nor is it appropriate for every conversation. But, if we don’t test out the waters (and yes, maybe cause some waves) then we’re going to stay on the status quo shore. And there is something better than the status quo. There has to be.