(The following was originally posted as a response to a Discussion List topic on Social Media Policy in FS Communications, a GovLoop Group)
I have been entertaining a thought that is pertinent to this direct topic, but also to the entire landscape of knowledge and information management. The key word in that phrasing is “management,” but also not to be used as a convenient synonym for “regulation.”
I do not want to come across as straddling the line, but what I want to emphasize is a delicate balance between the freedom to use the tools and technology available to all of us and the responsibility to use that very same technology properly.
I am currently researching the implementation of some of these tools within our unit, and included in my proposal is the necessity for the development of a companion SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to state exactly what is to be expected from our users.
The only guidelines I would recommend implementing are only the same guidelines we’ve all been using on the Internet since day 1 (at least since the internet has been freely available from the 1990s). These include nothing more than your basic internet etiquette rules: no spamming, no flaming, no obscene language. What other rules do we really need?
One of my unit’s guiding principles is to distribute information (knowledge) that is accurate, reliable, current, and useful. Each of those points is extremely important, but I believe that up until now, we’ve largely ignored that last point. Usefulness cannot be undervalued when it is used to define knowledge.
We need to strive to adhere to these principles in our exploration of our new range of tools, these social networking/social media tools. We should definitely utilize everything available to us to enhance our programs of work, our day-to-day business, and our relationship to our public. There will definitely be a learning curve as we work to marry our traditional, more controlled cultures of information distribution and access to today’s mass distribution and sharing of knowledge across boundaries.