Social media in government: Welcome to the tipping point
Looking at the list of last week's 10 most-accessed stories in Federal Computer Week, I noticed that three of the top five involved social networking -- "Top 10 Agencies With The Most Facebook Fans" (the number one story), "Facebook Launches Government Page," and "10 Social Networking Sites to Keep You in the Loop."
Add to this the following: Linda Cureton, whose appointment as NASA CIO was announced today, is a major blogger, Facebooker, and (I think) Twitter person. GovLoop, the for-government social networking site, has quickly emerged from obscurity -- a personal project of Steve Ressler, a DHS employee -- to become an important communication and information site for people in and around government; six months ago, 7,000 people were signed up, and now it's 18,000.
And the number of civil servants on Facebook seems to be skyrocketing -- at this point, I think I have almost as many (though maybe not quite as many) Facebook friends who are civil servants as who are former students.
I think we've reached the tipping point, when the question is not whether government should embrace social networking technologies, but how most productively to use them -- inside agencies (to build social capital, as tools for communities of practice, and so forth) and between agencies and the public -- to promote higher-quality government. "How," of course, includes dealing with cybersecurity, loafing on the job, and other issues that worry many in government. But that dialogue has to be in the context of how, not whether. The time for debating whether to embrace social media should be past.
Posted by Steve Kelman on Sep 22, 2009 at 12:08 PM