I am teaching PPA730 Government 2.0 for the fourth year with the challenge that the topic is truly a moving target. The course schedule organically evolves each semester – basically in parallel to the developments in the public sector. Four or five times throughout the semester guest speakers from government organizations join us to talk about their experiences either with specific tools or sharing their insights about their local implementation and then management processes. The first two guest speakers this semester were Rachel Flagg, GSA – HowTo.gov, and Bill Greeves, CIO Roanoake County and my co-author of the forthcoming “Social Media Fieldguide”.
Social Media – INEVITABLE ? So jump right in and ride the wave!!?
Our objective in this class is to understand how social media can be successfully used, especially in government and non-profits. An important aspect for me in being able to do this is to find a way to believe that this can indeed be accomplished given my limited experience, skepticism and a weariness regarding information overload. For me, what I was looking for was an overriding value statement and/or mindset that would set me on the path with a positive outlook. The 2 guest speakers we have had in class have helped make this happen. Rachel Flagg of GSA and her amazing websiteHowTo.Gov provided much information about the specifics of how to implement social media applications in Government. In addition, she answered one of our questions about how you deal with all the details, the instability, the beta factor, barriers, constraints with the advice to “just jump in”. Don’t let the uncertainties hold you back – have faith that you will make it work and “go for it”. I plan to take this advice. I watched the way young people were using all these tools all the time and simultaneously. They were crowdsourcing their decisions, making deals and creating networks at a breathtaking seemingly effortless pace. I started seeing ‘join us onFacebook’, ‘join us on Twitter’ everywhere online and in print media. Bill Greeves , the IT Director of Roanoke County , Virginia commented on the inevitability of the use of social media to become a dominant force in our communications both inside and outside government. “Inevitable” is defined as “impossible to avoid or prevent” and that sums up how I was feeling. His obvious determination and careful planning to harness the coming surge and, in fact, become a pioneer in the embracing of this technology was inspiring. So, thanks to Rachel and Bill, my resolve has been strengthened and I will adopt a surfing metaphor – “ride the wave” and if you “wipe-out”, get back on and wait for the next one.