NOTE: Originally published on July 24, 2009, I am re-posting since there is new energy surrounding this subject. What are your thoughts?
In light of the conversations and content of the Open Government and Innovations conference as well as my ongoing attempts to serve as a social media evangelist in agencies, I had an epiphany this evening. As I was preparing a presentation for an agency and thinking about ways to convince senior leaders that they should adopt the tools in order to better achieve their mission, I realized that the language we’re using is problematic.
It’s time to stop using the term social media in government. The new term I offer for your consideration is “knowledge media.”
GovLoop is Exhibit A. While personnel from government agencies and organizations associated with the public sector come to GovLoop to expand their connections and engage in social engagement, the majority of the content – from blogs to groups to forums – is tied to a pursuit for knowledge and information. In many ways, GovLoop is less a social network and more a knowledge network – a place where people come when they have questions on the job.
Members recognize that GovLoop provides a targeted community of people with a common desire to improve the work of government. It’s one of the best places to find real-time answers that arise during the work day. And it’s the place where people convene between conferences and other events to connect and collect new ideas in order to innovate and inform, streamline and strive for improvement.
With this post, I am determined to STOP using the term social media or social networking to describe the tools and activities of government related to collaborative technology. Instead, I am going to use “knowledge media” and “knowledge network.”
It’s time to change the language that we’re using in order to encourage broader adoption across agencies and organizations. Will you join me in this effort to re-define government’s use of collaborative technology to be more transparent, open and participatory?
Or am I just being anti-social?
UPDATE as of 11/21: There have been other people writing about this subject since I first posted my thoughts above. I would like to draw your attention to their excellent remarks and enhance this conversation:
1. Chris Dorobek has two posts:
2. Mark Drapeau has responded to Chris:
3. Chris Jones has been blogging independent of our conversation about the same topic: