A tale of the social media one-way street: City of Manor reverts back to the dark ages…

Remember the unbelievable Government 2.0 and social media success story of the City of Manor – a small town in Texas? Dustin Haisler, former city manager & CIO of Manor, was the driving force behind the use of WordPress to redesign the city’s homepage. He developed beta cities – a promise to revert other cities’ websites to the brand-new world of social media within 24 hours using the same template. He also started to use QR codes around the city to keep citizens up-to-date on the progress of construction sites or inform them about the history of a building or park.

 

 

With his enthusiasm, he caught the attention of the White House and many innovators travelled to Manor to participate in a conference celebrating Manor’s research and open innovation initiative “Manor Labs”. It is one of the first open innovation platforms in the country, using a virtual currency called “InnoBucks” that incentivized citizens to participate in ideation exercises to improve the effectiveness of the city. Another part of the initiative took the city’s “alpha” version (launched in 1913) to what Dustin Haisler called “open beta“: A version of the city’s website on which all citizens can openly engage with the government and each other.

Dustin’s success story was prominently featured in an article on Fastcompany.com titled “How an army of techies is taking on city hall“. He is a frequent guest speaker in my social media classes here at the Maxwell School and I consider him a true innovator and leader in his field. I recently checked back to take a screenshot of the City of Manor’s website for a presentation and was surprised to see that they apparently went back in time and put up a horrific website in a design that reminds me of the early days of the Internet.

 

Here it goes: The “new” design of the once so innovative City of Manor, a leader in open government, open innovation, and social media goodness in the U.S. What happened, Manor?

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About Ines Mergel

I am Full Professor of Public Administration at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously, I served as Assistant and then Associate Professor (with tenure) at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, NY. In my research, I focus on informal social networks in the public sector and the adoption and diffusion of digital service innovations in government organizations. I teach classes on social media management, digital government, public management, and social network analysis.

6 thoughts on “A tale of the social media one-way street: City of Manor reverts back to the dark ages…

  1. I wonder if they ran into problems with their open design. Hacking? Citizens posting stuff that rankled the powers that be? Did citizens not like it? Was it too expensive? Have you talked to anyone in the city government about why they made the change?

    1. Without revealing my source, my understanding is that it is a problem of political priorities and the perception that citizen participation is a technology problem (not an actual engagement, transparency, and interaction problem that government needs to tackle).

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