Where Is the Heritage Media?

Not long ago, I blogged about the need for the traditional media (I won’t call them “mainstream” anymore, because they are slipping so badly) to tap into what the federal government is doing in terms of embracing Web 2.0 tools and culture. Sadly, the legacy media is showing itself to be even more hidebound than that behemoth bureacracy. I’ve been immersing myself in Twitter, which I believe is a revolutionary technology that will grow lightening fast as mobile broadband expands around the world. The Twitter culture is a bit difficult to grasp, as nearly every “expert” has a slightly different take. However, it seems a natural place for old media to gets it sea legs and try out new ways of doing business.

They aren’t doing a very good job of it, though, that I can see. Please, correct me in the comments, because I may just not be trying hard enough, but what I see is that technologists and PR and marketing people are running on the bobbing Twitter decks while heritage media is scarcely to be found. Tech journos like @scobleizer and @mediaphyter are doing just fine, but the only press person I’ve found truly thriving in this 2.0 culture so far is @johnabyrne, who no doubt as editor of a business mag can see the writing on the wall.

Tell me I’m wrong, or tell me why Twitter isn’t the perfect place for notebook dumps. If I was still doing political journalism, I’d be on Twitter even more than I am now, and that’s a lot.

Ten of My SocMed Peeps

So these lists are going to get a bit repetitive, but now and again I want to give shouts out to some of the great folks I follow in my communities of interest: Government 2.0, social media, and locals. Today, 10 people using Twitter to its potential for creating great social media. You’ve probably already heard of most of them, but maybe not. And if you’re just starting out, following these folks will get you up to speed. The list was compiled by starting from the beginning of my own Twitter experience (in unranked order); later on I’ll post newer names I’ve come to know and love. And please add your best of on the comments. For now:

@skydiver @ecevents @chrisbrogan @trib @jonathanfleming @ariherzog @dbillian @stelzner @kriscolvin @anthonyidem

We Are The Future of Work: Book Review

“There go my people. I must find out where they are going so I can lead them.” – French politician Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

Just finished “The Future of Work – How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and your Life,” by Thomas W. Malone of MIT. Recommended by one of my fellow Govloopers. Amazing book for anyone looking at leadership/management consulting, social media and Government 2.0. The above quote is pulled from Chapter 10, “Cultivating People.” Memorize the core themes, analyses and citations from this book, and you’ve got just about all the knowledge you need to talk a solid transformation game. I plan to re-read it to pull out key concepts.

Most valuable, Malone points to the MIT Process Handbook Project, a collaborative effort that, as described on its Web page, provides – free – an “extensive online knowledge base including entries for over 5,000 business activities and a set of software tools for managing this knowledge.”

The book was published in 2004, and as I finished it in the spa this afternoon, the one nagging thought was that its brief and late acknowledgment of the challenges of monetizing a knowledge economy is still a problem nearly five years later. Then I came in and, over dinner,  read Ellen McGirt’sRevolution in San Jose – a hard-core Republican turns Cisco into a socialist enterprise – one with $26 billion in cash,” in the latest issue of Fast Company. And here were Malone’s tenets in practice, in one of the most successful companies of the Internet age. Cisco is embracing the knowledge economy with both arms, because it makes the infrastructure to support it. And the company is evangelizing the future of work by democratizing and unleashing it’s own workforce, with, according to McGirt and Cisco execs, incredible increases in productivity.

Malone points to seminar participants estimating that only 30-40 percent of employee potential is tapped in their traditional workplaces. His chapter structure always ends with a choice that boils down to, “Do you want to give up command-and-control and embrace collaborative work?” Cisco CEO John Chambers is saying yes. It’s 2.0. What do you choose?

Government 2.0: Tweeting the Talk, Walking the Walk

Out of the many uses for Twitter, the one I find most valuable is creating communities of interest. My favorite such community on Twitter is Government 2.0 folks, from private industry to Congress members to gov groupies. You can find lists of government folks who use Twitter, but the folks I’m listing here are the cream of the crop – they add value. Fun, too. If you’ve got some I’ve missed, please add in the comments.

@Jack_Holt @sradick @policymonk @ZachTumin @marlinex @lewisshepherd @johnculberson @dslunceford @planetrussell @dfletcher @corbett3000 @CaraKeithley @cheeky_geeky @johnhale @dbevarly @helenmosher @moehlert @cdorobek @bashley @levyj413 @you2gov @david_tallan @meghan1018 @caseycoleman @pbroviak @immunity @citymark @bgreeves @krazykriz @govloop

Five Inexpensive Ways to Promote New Content

1) Call in to a local radio show to pitch the new content – in SF, we have a guy who does a 30-second open mic show. Like a free ad.
2) Buy a targeted Facebook ad, with a design aimed at bringing people to the site based on impressions, not clicks. Read more here.
3) Ask all of your friends who have Facebook accounts to post a blurb about the site on their pages. Ask your target audience to do the same. For example, I have more than 500 facebook friends (my three audiences – friends from church, SF politics, and Gov 2.0), so when I post something to my news feed, it gets a lot of eyeballs.
4) Use a Twitter account to search and identify locals and others in the target audience, then blast out a unique promos for the site once a day. My site gets the most hits when I promote something to my Twitter group, which is mostly Gov 2.0 and social media folks.
5) Make a short video on YouTube or Tokbox, and promote that link through e-mail and all the channels above. Consider making it a very memorable video that people will want to share.

Propagating Citizen 2.0

The intent of this blog is to increase the acceptance and practice of Web 2.0 concepts in governance. I believe in a basic libertarian ideal of self-determination, but also in a strong central government to provide security and a baseline standard of living and health. Underpinning my political philosophy is a raging populist spirit.

I want to see people engaged in their government, paying attention to and demanding response from their elected representatives. Web 2.0 tools and the rapidly decreasing costs of communication and connecting is engendering one of the greatest shifts in our democracy in a generation. Central to this revolution is the “Citizen 2.0” (the term was recently used by my friend Andrea Baker in an opinion piece on social media and transparency in government, but still lacks a Wikipedia entry). The Citizen 2.0 is engaged with their government through media technologies that allow near instantaneous spread of news, and simple means to “crowdcast” a response to both officials and friends and neighbors. The Citizen 2.0 participates in their government from a position of knowledge and speed.

The tools of Web 2.0 will allow this revolution, but it is the job of we initiates to make this revolution work.

It is not enough for Web 2.0/Gov 2.0 enthusiasts to talk to each other and write in blogs and tech magazines. A good example of initiating the process in government is GovLoop.com, a social network for advancing 2.0 culture among local, state and federal employees. Government 2.0 will advance as these employees realize the incredible value of quick and cheap horizontal communication.

Commercial applications of 2.0 are also spreading quickly, due to the potential of the tech to make money by embedding products deeper into the collective consciousness and allowing brands and customers to interact on a more personal level.

The challenge I’m presently most cognizant of is spreading the Citizen 2.0 meme. This means taking the tools out of the chatterboxes and to the streets. It means teaching citizen activists how to engage their government with tools like Facebook campaigns, Twitter, niche social networks and blog campaigns. It means going from the activists to the everyday folks who find government inaccessible and hold to the fast-fading power of the adage, “Can’t fight City Hall.”

We can make government work for the people, and we must be willing to lead.

Answering the Ills of Social Media

I’ve done some thinking about institutional problems in social media that challenge successful implementation of Government 2.0 initiatives. I’d like to recruit you to help me combat them.

First, let’s agree that social media is an art that requires a bit of learning and humility. Ask, read, discuss, and when you think you know it all, realize that, like in any human interaction, you never really will. Humility and respect for others is the key to combating the pride in social media and making it work for more of us.

Have patience; show restraint. (Yes, these are hard for me!) Before you go saving the world, check out what others are doing. Follow them, talk with them, learn from them. To harness the power of social media, we need to work together on common goals. We don’t need to blaze the same path over an over again, starting new groups, new networks and new blogs ad infinitum. Plug in to what others are doing, contribute and promote what’s good. These new technologies are great for forming working relationships and communities of interest. Avoid recklessness, treat others how you’d like to be treated, and respect the community.

Be yourself, and show integrity. When folks go around using fake names, trashing others and saying things they’d never say in public, it cheapens all of this. Let’s take ownership for this community by using our real names, faces and ideas. I think of a great training by the Obama team in Reno, where they told us to approach each person as if the candidate were with us. No Sarah Palin attacks, we’re out there representing a cause and a person with integrity. When you’re out here in social media land, think about what a respected mentor would think of what you’re doing. And make us proud.

Three Challenges for Mainstreaming Gov 2.0

When you think of challenges to moving government towards more collaboration, openness and direct democracy, you may think of issues like institutionalized resistance to interagency sharing, legacy laws blocking Gov 2.0 uptake, or some other roadblock to adoption. I don’t think those barriers are as big as we think. But three features already institutionalized in Web culture are big problems for mainstream acceptance and growing use of 2.0 applications by government agencies: simply, pride, recklessness, and anonymity.

By pride I mean the ornery behavior of so many webheads (myself no exception on bad days) of thinking this is all about me. Social networkers who want everyone to follow them, regardless of any meaningful connection or plan for collaboration, are the biggest example of this. Some have called it the “look at me” phenomenon. This is the “open networker” of LinkedIn, the Twitter user who keeps bragging or whining about their number of followers or the number of people who’ve stopped following (they usually blame Twitter, even when hundreds of their followers were spam accounts); and the random friend request on Facebook with no note of introduction. Simply, all of this is a waste, and impresses not the real doers, movers and shakers of society.

Recklessness is a range – on its extreme end, the absurd behavior otherwise sane people adopt online, from drunk party pictures to blue language. On the less foolish but just as damaging end is the Web 1.0 thinking of just throwing content out with no thought about its purpose. That means creating groups and networks, new sites and user names without any thought of what purpose they serve, or any research into what’s already come before. This reckless practice dilutes content to the point where finding information and building meaningful collaboration is a needle-in-the-haystack exercise. It ruins communities and pollutes the Web.

Anonymity is the problem of people with weird and inconsistent user names not linked clearly to a real person thinking anyone is taking them seriously (unless perhaps it’s someone else with similar delusions). The serious folks who run our society just shake their heads at this sort of madness. And any Web 2.0 application (you listening, Twitter, SFGate.com?) that thinks this kind of culture is acceptable isn’t worthy of the 2.0 name. This raving exhibitionism of the id has been around since the genesis of AOL, and look where AOL is now.

If we are to have Government 2.0, we must guard – fight, even – against these three ills of the system. When they are dealt with and we show the revolutionary value of 2.0, its other challenges will seem small.

Later: How to fight back.