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 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/statephotos/), a Twitter account (http://twitter.com/dipnote), 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.