There have been so many incredible topics that have been discussed in this course that it was hard for me to pick one. Do I explore mobile apps? I bank on my phone now, it only makes sense to me that each city should have a mobile app that discusses bus routes, where you can pay your water bill and an event calendar you can download to the calendar on the phone. Do I look in development of city websites and critiquing the look and outline of them?
Finally, I realized it needed to deal with implementing social media into government and discussing effective ways to use it. Two of the optional readings (this one and this one) are what fully cemented my decision, but much of the required reading helped tip it in that direction as well. In Open Government (which I found to fantastic and once this course is over I will be reading the rest of it), there were a few chapters that highlighted applying social media strategies. One of the more interesting ones overviewed Tweet Congress. On Twitter, the two founders stated, “many saw it as an opportunity to get their message out to constituents, unfiltered by old media” (Netherland and McCroskey). In Chapter 9 of Open Government, Sifry stated “At least 58 agencies have official Twitter accounts (those were the ones the White House was following from its official Twitter account).”They are implying social media is a more effective way to share news than newspapers and television stations.
Is this true? We have seen several politicians use Twitter to the extent that Twitter updates and Facebook posts are reported on by the news. I will be looking at the value of social media sites in regards to politicians and agencies.
Another area I will explore in regards to social media is using these platforms to encourage citizen participation. People like to talk online whether it be commenting on a news article, interacting on a message board or posting a status update. According to the Preface of Open Government, “Participation means true engagement with citizens in the business of government and actual collaboration with citizens in the design of government programs.”
President Obama has understood the importance of participation early on, as Sifry states, “These are the words of someone who clearly understands the power and wisdom of a crowd and the axiom that all of us are smarter than any one of us.”
We have reached the point where we can use the web to interact with our city. According to Worley, “residents can communicate with a centrally managed service request system, learn about community events and employment opportunities, acquire city governing body agendas and minutes, while separate business websites offer relevant information concerning the local economic and fiscal environment” (p. 5). The cities have all of this on their websites but I feel if they could correctly learn the best practices in social media, they would be much more successful in encouraging engagement amongst their citizens. Jaeger stated, “Consistent Web site accessibility in federal e-government remains a goal rather than a reality” (p. 185), what if we could make this consistency come through social media? That is what I am going to look into for my topic, what are the best social media practices the government can use.
Note: I realize my topic at the moment is pretty broad and I may need to narrow it down.