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The Speed of Change

Notes From NAGW
I “grew up” in IT when applications were flow-charted, lines of code written, compiled, debugged, compiled again, then deployed and hopefully documented. And the process took forever. Ask mainframe users.

Early last year, when we launched social media in Morris County, I spent forever (in today’s terms… about a week) figuring out through trial and error how to push tweets created in Hootsuite to our Facebook page (not profile). At the time, Hootsuite didn’t offer that capability so I connected Hootsuite to ping.fm to Facebook. Cool.

Just one day before a major presentation where I was going to teach some fellow web professionals how to do this, Hootsuite announced its direct connection to Facebook pages. Surprise!

I suspect you’ve all been surprised like that because change happens really fast in social media, sometimes without warning. And even when you know something’s coming, you rarely have the details.

Fast forward a year. I’ve just spent a few weeks laying out a major multi-jurisdictional emergency information sharing application using one particular Twitter-based application. The white board is full of boxes, arrows, domain names, applications, lists of “to-dos” and assigned responsibilities.

Enter change, change I knew was coming but about which I had no details. Well, the devil’s in the details and now that I have them, it’s back to the white board with an application presentation deadline two weeks away. The application cost just became prohibitive.

But that’s the great thing about social media. There are so many fantastically talented people creating wonderful tools all around the world… so we have an alternative. And many social entrepreneurs seem willing to discuss points of view and modify apps, processes or prices accordingly.

How fabulous that, even if we have to rework our application some, it won’t take “forever”!

Carol A. Spencer is Web Manager for Morris County NJ and Treasurer of NAGW. She is a frequent presenter on local government use of social media. She is the former Mayor of Denville Township NJ.

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