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Weekly Round-up – November 04, 2011

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

This past Monday, I led a Webinar for GSA on the basics of government use of Facebook and Twitter. This week, I saw quite a few articles on how and why government agencies are using social media (or how they could use it better) and how to measure their effectiveness with those tools.

  • Fierce Government IT published an article that quoted Scott Bates, a national security expert, who said that social media requires government to reassess its role in responding to emergencies.
  • Michael Rupert argues that government agencies should fold their Web and social media activities into a comprehensive and cohesive Office of Communications, “a multi-disciplinary, specialized group that designs, develops, implements and monitors the success of communications strategies across all communications channels – web, social media, newsletters, publications, phones, emails and “in real life” events —for priority messages and campaigns for the Agency.”
  • Luke Fretwell then interviews the author of a recently-released white paper recounting 17 examples of government social media innovation.
  • Finally, Alex Howard addressed a fundimental question for all social media practicioners: what metrics matter most? He argues that follower-count should not be the end-all be-all of measuring influence online.

Dr. John Bordeaux

There’s a great comic over at xkcd.com, showing a guy staying up way too late one night, desperate to correct things. Because “someone on the Internet is wrong!” It’s funny, but occasionally close to home. This week, up popped several new pieces that made some old mistakes. At least, that’s I viewed them. To my limited credit, I only responded to two out of the three.

  • The Financial Times featured a book review that claimed robots may actually begin taking the jobs of knowledge workers, because they could now “understand patterns.” While computers may be structured to recognize patterns that have already been programmed, the plasticity and basic nature of the human brain (i.e., the fact that it learns) will still keep knowledge workers employed well into this century.
  • Every few years, it becomes popular to show how “social media” is not only better than anything that came before, but also provides the opportunity to demonstrate how misguided those other things were. As is often the case with revisionist history, it becomes necessary to recast the ‘old way’ in unflattering terms, sometimes so much so that the practitioners of the old thing no longer recognize it. History is better written after a few generations, it’s harder to run into the backlash this article earned – see the comments section for details.
  • Finally, my dear colleague attempts to bring order to social media, by proposing a deeper and more persistent use of hashtags – marking your social media content with a category as often as possible. I am critical of that view.

Of course, the truth may lie somewhere in the middle, as with most of this week’s three ‘mistakes.’ But I have to go now, someone on the Internet just split an infinitive.

Dan Chenok

John Kamensky

  • The State of Open Data. In a great GovLoop blog post, David Eaves sums up what’s been going on this past year, current challenges, and next steps in the open data movement. A related commentary in Federal Computer Week by David Stephenson reinforces Eaves piece with a good explanation of how XBRL can be used to create real-time data – and save money by reducing the costs of sharing these data.
  • Proposed Government Results Transparency Act. According to Government Executive’s Charles Clark, in “Expanded Data Transparency Bill Passed House Panel,” The Government Results Transparency Act (H.R. 3262) “would build a bridge between performance data and spending data,” said Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., who introduced the bill this month. “Under GRTA, the government will finally be able to publish all of its performance data and spending data for each program on a public website in a format that makes it easy for anyone to search, download and analyze.”
  • Agency Customer Service Plans Are Out. NextGov’s Joseph Marks highlights the signature initiatives in several agency customer service plans submitted to OMB last week in compliance with Obama’s April executive order. Their focus is on the use of technology, not in-person services.
  • Scottish Tool Kits for Government Improvement. Here’s an amazing UK-Scottish government website with resources for government improvements in a wide range of areas, such as customer service, performance management, procurement, shared services, and workforce planning.

The Business of Government Radio Show: Dr. Ines Mergel

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The executives discuss their careers and the management challenges facing their organizations.

The show airs fives times a week on two radio stations in the DC Metro Area.

Dr. Ines Mergel discusses the managerial, cultural, behavioral, and technological issues that public managers face in starting and maintaining Wikis. She is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and The Information Studies School (ischool) at Syracuse University.

Broadcast Schedule: Saturday, November 05 at 9:00 a.m & Friday, November 11 at 2:00 p.m on CBS Radio 1580AM on For those outside of the Washington, D.C. area, you can listen to our live webstream on CBS Radio 1580AM. Monday, November 07, at 11 a.m., Wednesday, November 09, at Noon, and Thursday, November 10, at Noon on Federal News Radio 1500AM WFED

If you can’t wait, though, you can listen to it or download our interview with Beth and all our interviews at businessofgovernment.org and by searching our audio archives.

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