Posted August 21, 2008 3:11 pm by with 10 comments

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The government can’t be all that bad. They Twitter. They don’t make us practice until we’re almost dead for the Olympics. Plus they use other social media sites to communicate and encourage freedom of press. Now, if they could just let reporters live twit during press conferences it would look just like BlogWorld – speakers could look down at an audience of laptops.

Silicon Valley nerds may be early adopters of social media – but the government is not only twittering, they are blogging and using other social media platforms (and maybe they should subsidize it too!).

The Department of State has started “Project Dipnote” (Not wild about the name but still kudos for the idea. Then I read this: “Dipnote” means a diplomatic note and is one of the many ways in which governments formally communicate with each other.). They have a YouTube Channel, a blog (with comments!), a Flickr photo album (, a Twitter account (, an account iTunes for podcasts, RSS feeds (here’s the list), and a Facebook page (with almost 500 fans).

Most businesses don’t have that impressive list (though I’m doing my best to change that). Some don’t want to open themselves up to criticism by allowing comments or participating in social media. Most just don’t understand it.

But what will be the impact of social media on government? Right now, it’s probably marginal, but in time…

β€œIt may not be quite clear yet as to what impact social media will have exactly on foreign policymaking. What is evident, though, is that foreign policy does not operate in a vacuum, and it must incorporate or respond to changes in communications. We are interested in your thoughts on how social media β€” how these changes in communication β€” will affect foreign policymaking in the years ahead…”
– Editor-in-Chief of DipNote.

Getting involved in government on any level takes time – to understand the issues – and to keep up with the developments. If government can engage us with social media we can build a stronger democracy. I wish I could direct message and follow (on Twitter) not only my local city council (or neighborhood group), but members of Congress, and others on up to the federal level – just as long as they don’t tell me what they ate at the cafeteria today.

  • Michael D

    What I like most about this post is the phrase we’ve heard many times before, “it’s good enough for government work.”

    For engaging in social media, I think that’s a pretty impressive list you’ve put together Janet, one that any business (small medium or large) could strive to duplicate.

    I’ve seen my local fire department (LAFD) twittering emergency related information. For me it was another reminder of what uses can be made out of social media services, other than sharing photos of ones pets.

    Michael D’s last blog post..WordCamp 2008 Weekend Summary

  • DipNote Bloggers

    Thanks Janet! We’re not only sharing ideas on various social media platforms, but also engaging others who post blog entries that offer new ideas on their own blogs about our efforts. Feel free to let us know how we’re doing from time to time.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Wow great idea… imagine that – everyone in the government using these social media tools to better their interactions with eachother and the general public. The opportunities are limitless!

    Nick Stamoulis’s last blog post..The 8 Most Important Blog Metrics

  • Otilia Otlacan

    Govt nerds! πŸ˜€
    Joke aside, I think it’s a great initiative!

    Otilia Otlacan’s last blog post..WebTrends Takes Aim at Billions of Dollars in Wasted Search Advertising

  • Utah SEO

    They adopted Twitter before good IA and usability initiatives? Interesting.

    Utah SEO’s last blog post..Mobile SEO – SMX Local Mobile 2008 Presentation

  • Pablo DiCiacco

    Techcrunch conducted a related poll on this:

  • Symbian

    Going to write some comments there on DipNote

    Symbian’s last blog post..Free VoIP Symbian app Fring now on Nokia E71

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  • phil barnhart

    One issue is that many state and local governments have full disclosure or sunshine laws that affect what and how they communicate “officially.” Most of these laws will need to be rewritten before our local governments can “get social” using social media.

    phil barnhart’s last blog post..BizAid Austin and a Simple Thing, Poorly Executed