A couple months ago, I ‘jumped the shark’ by posting a photo of Elvis below and wondering if there’s all that much interest in government and social media. I didn’t post much after that. It seems like only a few months ago that if you brought up the topic in government circles, there were frowns and hesitation and muttering about how government people couldn’t go near social media on their computers.
In the past couple months, that’s surely changed for the better. Seems like there are two primary sources: the Obama adminstration embracing social media (and Republicans talking about perhaps it can help their cause) and all the talk about Twittering in Congress. One blogger coined the phrase Goverati to cover people involved in enriching social media and government; and beyond that, the entire Air Force apparently wants to be involved.
The latest articles on the subject offer a lot of excitement. Consider how many ways Secretary of State Clinton is using social media and the Internet. People can follow her around the world. In a few years, when we can upload avatars of ourselves into the 3-D Web, it probably will be virtually possible to follow her into a building in London or the Mideast.
Something I had not thought about before is that this social media emphasis is not just about being more transparent. With the disintegration of newspapers moving faster and faster, we may be fighting for the attention of the public about public policy. A recent story in Time magazine is scary. The article talks of a town without local news that suffers reduced voter participation and fewer candidates. It’s a scary scenario unless something replaces the local newspaper to inspire public participation.
We could have told you this before, based on what we’ve seen in my hometown. It’s a very real scenario in my town, Lakewood, a suburb of Tacoma. We’re too close to Tacoma to have our own community newspaper. We’re too small to get more than a story every couple days, if that, in the Tacoma paper. I know from talking to citizens that a lot of them have no idea what’s going on in the town, and that makes them uncomfortable. Some tell me my blog helps …. and our hyperlocal blog definitely helps … can all the tools of social media help?
They have to! Any way we can be involved in interacting with each other in the hunt for deeper and richer public policy discussions is valuable.