Category Archives: Social Software

IBM Report: Social Intranet – Insights on Managing and Sharing Knowledge Internally

Mergel_IBM_SocialIntranet_GraphicIBM The Center for the Business of Government has published my new practitioner report titled “The Social Intranet – Insights on Managing and Sharing Knowledge Internally”.

The report highlights four different social networking sites (think: Government’s own internal Facebook) that are designed to increase collaboration and knowledge sharing opportunities among public servants. The insights are based on qualitative interviews I conducted with public managers who were in charge of designing the social Intranet sites and a review of the existing press coverage and academic literature on enterprise social technologies.

I included four different cases at different maturity stages and with different audiences and purposes:

  1. The Department of State’s Corridor site
  2. The intelligence community’s iSpace
  3. NASA’s SpaceBook, and
  4. The Government of Canada’s GCconnex site.

The full report is available via IBM’s report page here.

Here are a few media articles that covered the report:

Please let me know if you have any questions!

 

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New book published: “Social Media in the Public Sector”

I am excited to announce the release of my first sole-authored book: “Social media in the public sector“. It will be officially introduced to the public at the annual NASPAA conference in Austin, TX, on October 18, 2012.

The book is based on my research that started about three years ago. My initial interest started with the success of  Obama’s Internet strategy to reach audiences via social media who are unlikely to interact with politicians or government in general. As the open government initiative developed in the U.S. federal government, I started to interview public managers to understand how they are (re)organizing their standard operating procedures to use social media for regular governing operations in support of the mission of their organizations. The book provides insights into the strategic, managerial, and administrative aspects of social media adoption in the public sector.

The publisher’s book page includes resources for professors who would like to use the book in their e-government classes, including week-by-week Powerpoint slides and an article published in the Journal of Public Affairs Education that outlines my teaching approach and learning experiences.

The book went through a thorough double-blind peer-review process and I would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their invaluable feedback.

Next month an accompanying field guide will be released.

Here is a link to the instructor resources on Jossey-Bass/Wiley’s website.

Blurb:

In today’s networked world, the public sector is tapping into new media applications to increase government organizations’ participation, transparency and collaboration. The book contains a review of the current state of the public administration literature and shows how Government 2.0 activities can potentially challenge or change the existing paradigms. It includes an overview of each of the tools used to increase participation, transparency and collaboration. The book also highlights case examples at the local, state, federal and international levels. The author offers recommendations for the implementation processes at the end of each chapter and includes suggested readings and references.

Endorsements

Comprehensive and compelling, Social Media in the Public Sector makes the case that to achieve Government 2.0, agencies must first adopt Web 2.0 social technologies. Ines Mergel explains both how and why in this contemporary study of traditional institutions adopting and adapting to new technologies.
Beth Simone Noveck, United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer (2009-2011)

Ines Mergel moves beyond the hype with detailed, comprehensive research on social media technologies, use, management and policies in government. This book should be required reading for researchers and public managers alike.
Jane Fountain, Professor and Director, National Center for Digital Government, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Professor Mergel has produced a foundational work that combines the best kind of scholarship with shoe-leather reporting and anthropology that highlights the debates that government agencies are struggling to resolve and the fruits of their efforts as they embrace the social media revolution. Social Media in the Public Sector is a first and sets a high standard against which subsequent analysis will be measured.
Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

Dr. Mergel is an award-winning author who again wields her story skills in this book. She excels in explaining in concrete, practical terms how government managers can use social media to serve the public. Her book puts years of research into one handy guide. It’s practical. It’s readable. And it’s an essential read.
John M. Kamensky, Senior Fellow, IBM Center for The Business of Government

Revolution 2.0

The last few weeks were full with reports on how social media applications, such as Twitter and Facebook, have contributed to the fall of governments in Tunisia and Egypt. We have seen protesters holding up signs like the following:

Or this one, implying that the Egyptian revolution was carried out through Twitter and Facebook:

A prominent Google marketing executive in the region, Wael Ghonim, has drawn a lot of attention to a Facebook group he has used to organize young people in Egypt. In his interviews with several US media outlets he highlights that the revolution started on Facebook – in June 2010. The government itself was apparently taken by surprise. Protesters organized and coordinated their actions using the #jan25 hashtag on Twitter – keeping the online movement alive. The Egyptian government quick shut down the internet and blocked access to Twitter and Facebook.

From a government perspective, criticism is popping up that social media is fueling the protesters – ignoring that the technology itself can’t spark a revolution. Instead, public managers need to be aware of what their citizens are talking about, where hot conversation topics are bubbling up, and how to make citizens feel that government is listening to their citizens’ needs.

What these so-called “social media revolution” also show is, that people don’t need a broadband connection to connect to each other – instead, cellphones are widely available, independent of income or education. What’s common to most of the governments that were overthrown or are under attack is that their citizens are disappointed or don’t feel that their government hears their wishes and complaints.

Also check out the Wallstreet Journal video discussion with Clay Shirky.

My “Government 2.0 Revisited” article wins 2010 H. George Frederickson Best Article Award

My “Gov 2.0 Revisited: Social Media Strategies in the Public Sector” article won the PA Times’ 2010 H. George Frederickson Best Article Award.

Here is what I submitted as the acceptance note for the January/February 2011 PA Times issue:

“I am very honored to accept the PA TIMES Best Article Award for 2010, and would like to thank the award committee for their hard work in reviewing what were undoubtedly a large group of high quality submissions.

Government 2.0 is not only a hot topic at the moment, it is an important one. I believe that the use of social media applications is at a tipping point, moving from early innovators toward broader acceptance among government professionals. These technologies often challenge the way that public employees conduct their work, but as the use of Government 2.0 grows we will observe more changes in the way information is organized and distributed, as well as in the way information is co-created by citizens and absorbed by government.

In this early stage of Government 2.0, the use of social media in the public sector is often labeled as the “Wild West of e-Government.” However, we are beginning to move into a convergence phase–where the reality of government operations merges with the new reality of social networking services: both will have to adapt to these new challenges. What is missing is clear guidance on best practices and acceptable strategies for effectively using social media applications to support the missions and practices of government organizations. The interviews I conducted with current social media directors for this PA TIMES article highlight not only challenges and hurdles, but also the positive impacts so social media can have in the public sector. Government is already part of the public conversations that are happening on social networking sites; therefore, public managers need to understand where and how these conversations evolve–and become a part of them.

I believe that both researchers and government practitioners have a lot of interesting ground to cover in the next few years. And, I for one, am excited to be a part of that. Thank you again for recognizing the importance of this fascinating and growing area of public administration practice and research.”

Article reference:
Mergel, I. (2010): Government 2.0 Revisited: Social Media Strategies in the Public Sector, in: PA Times, American Society for Public Administration, Vol. 33, No. 3, p. 7 & 10.

My other related publications on Government 2.0 topics:

Mergel, I. Web 2.0 in the Public Sector, with Schweik, C., in: Public Service, and Web 2.0 Technologies: Future Trends in Social Media (under review)

Mergel, I.: Measuring the effectiveness of social media tools in the public sector, in: Public Service, and Web 2.0 Technologies: Future Trends in Social Media (under review)

Mergel, I. (accepted for publication): Government networks, in: Encyclopedia of Social Networking, Editors: Barnett, George, Golson, J. Geoffrey, Sage Publications.

Mergel, I. (2010): The use of social media to dissolve knowledge silos in government, in: O’Leary, R., Kim, S. and Van Slyke, D. M. (Editors): The Future of Public Administration, Public Management and Public Service Around the World: The Minnowbrook Perspective, Georgetown University Press, pp. 177-187.

Mergel, I., Gardner, M., Broviak, P., Greeves, B.: MuniGov20, A New Residency Requirement: Local Government Professionals in Second Life, in: Journal of Virtual World Research, Special Issue: Virtual Worlds and Government (accepted for publication in 2011)

Bretschneider, S. I., Mergel, I. (2010): Technology and Public Management Information Systems: Where have we been and where are we going, in: Menzel, D.C., White, H. J.: The State of Public Administration: Issues, Problems and Challenges, M.E. Sharpe Inc., New York, pp. 187-203.

Participation 2.0 white paper

Participation 2.0
Participation 2.0

Tina Nabatchi and I have written a white paper for the report “Connected Communities” edited by James H. Svara and Janet Denhardt, Arizona State University. Our paper, titled “Participation 2.0: Using Internet and Social Media Technologies to Promote Distributed Democracy and Create Digital Neighborhoods” (pp. 80-88) used a citizen engagement framework and matched the theoretical dimensions with evidence from interviews I conducted with city managers and government IT professionals.

You’ve got mail, Mr. President!

The Whitehouse has just posted a blog entry with a video showing how the President receives his mail every morning. Mr. Obama states that these letters keep him in touch with what is going on in the country and he responds personally with a handwritten letter. The video shows that the Whitehouse receives about 100,000 emails a week, 6,500 paper letters/week, ~1,000 faxes per day, ~2,500-3,500 calls/day.

Adding all the press coverage, Twitter messages, blog posts produced on social networking services every day that in one way or another touch the subjects the President is dealing with, we need to develop tools to efficiently digest and extract the most important themes.

Moreover, I see a few unsolved issues of information overload, vetting the information that is produced through all those channels and the process of intelligent ranking and selection of important issues. How can we verify that the information produced is true and represents the actual “trending” topics – to use a Twitter analogy. Artificial intelligence might be one answer to support the filtering process and grouping of similar topics, but the additional reality check is critical and can only be done with human intelligence.

See also the Whitehouse Blog entry and the responding @whitehouse message on Twitter.

Social networks in crisis communication and as a resilience factor

We have just launched the “Resilience & Security” project website at INSCT, Syracuse University. The workshop report at the end of the first page, includes two papers of mine on a) institutional resilience and the influence of social networks and b) on the use of social media in crisis communication as a resilience factor.

The full research report is available via SSRN: Longstaff, Patricia, Mergel, Ines A. and Armstrong, Nicholas J.,Workshop Report: Resilience in Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Natural Disasters(March 9, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1357525

Here is the blurb of the project description:

The Institute’s project on Resilience is an effort to generate an interdisciplinary stream of research aimed at identifying key metrics of adaptive capacity in local communities overcome by armed conflict or major disasters.  Recent challenges in Post-Conflict Reconstruction (PCR) highlight the need for a full understanding of a host nation’s resilience to withstand the hardships of armed conflict.  The same holds true for communities impacted by natural disasters.  Academic research on resilience across multiple disciplines (social sciences, engineering, biology) has practical applications for data collection and analysis to inter-agency planners in developing strategies to restore the critical functions of civil society.  This leads to our foundational research questions:

  1. What attributes (human, social, cultural, political, economic, technological) within a community are essential to ensuring resilience?
  2. How are they measured?
  3. How are they interrelated?

This research will provide a deeper intellectual understanding of what makes communities “bounce back” (or not) after a significant disturbance, and culturally sensitive metrics for measuring resilience of local populations that can be used for planning response, and rebuilding. The knowledge gained in this collaboration will also find immediate application in other fields with high uncertainty including emergency management and disaster response planning.


MC Hammer at HBS explaining Twitter

A new expert on social networking, MC Hammer, spoke at HBS about how he uses Twitter effectively. Instead of letting other people talk about him, he says that Twitter is a way of controlling what people hear – directly from him. The session was taped for a special issue on Twitter for Good Morning America. As Andy McAffee (HBS) says in the Good Morning America piece: Twitter is a low cost very public way to share information online:

(Picture linked from The Crimson)

Update: Here is the video from Good Morning America with the coverage.