How to Engage Citizens through Social Media

I attended a session from the Gov2.0 Camp around Using Social media for OutreachHere are the notes.

Educate – Frame the conversation – Deliberate on the issues – Identify shared priorities – Refine conversation – Bring back conversation – Act

Gov2.0 Camp March 27, 2009

Gov2.0 Camp March 27, 2009

Questions people want to get out of the session:

  • How can we use web 2.0 tools effectively?
  • Twitter strategy for outreach
  • Using social media to create awareness
  • How do you define success? (Google moderator)
  • How to engage public in a meaningful way
  • How do we use social media to gain trust in the customer base
  • Connecting communities – promote collaboration
  • Building online audience and drive to 1:1 relationships
  • Media think tank outreach
  • Communication to senior leaders on why they need to be involved in the social media
  • Metrics, privacy issues, how do you know the impact
  • Sharing best practices
  • Security issues, guidelines on what to say and what not to say
  • How we filter what will help us and what’s jus t the noise
  • Inform the public on what we do
  • Want to make sure that the vocal people do not drown out the conversation –by having topical blogs to drive the conversation
  • Capitalize greater government transparency through social media
  • Bridge cultures using social technology
  • Elaborate and leverage the network
  • Want to get beyond the numbers when measure success. How are we going to action the information to help set priority and utilize the information in a meaningful way
  • How to overcome management resistance
  • How to engage in the public through technology in the time of crises

What is meaningful participation? Meaningful is in the eye of the beholder, start with the mission and define the right mix that help you as an organization.

  • Recommend a book written in 1965 by Ellul: Propaganda How you skew information, depending on your purpose and how you are trying to influence. How unity and action need to work together.
  • You can use social tool to establish relationship with people with 1:1 levels
  • How do you start? Begin with a dialogue, keep it rolling by user generated content

o Make sure you know what people want to do

o How will you make it successful? Credibility

It’s important to include what the citizens think (comments) as meaningful metrics

– One of the success measure is to see that their audience / comments self moderate

  • People have to have a mechanism to know that their comments will make a difference
  • Need to be responsible for managing the outcome, take ation and communicate that to the public
  • Recommend to use Metafilter and Dailypost, which has a 24 hour delay to monitor the comments
  • Set expectations to your audience has to understand that not every comments has to be responded to
  • Social media Showing a face from the inside of the agency can express more government transparency
  • America Speaks is hiring. Check out


Are we loosing young talents in this country?

A BusinessWeek article Why the US is Loosing Foreign Graduates, indicated that increasing number of foreign students graduated from U.S. universities are going back to their home countries to pursue careers. Some says it is due to tightened restrictions of the H-1B visa (temporary work permit); Others argue that is caused by the current economy with lesser jobs to offer. I think it is a combination of both. The H-1 visa restriction has certainly hindered a pool of talented international students to pursue careers in the US. On the other hand, with the globalization of the economy, US is no longer the gold mine of opportunities it once was.

Another article The Argument Left Unsaid About Foreign Students written in 2008 still holds true today. I hope the new Obama administration takes this into consideration and rethink ways retain talents in our own country. America is established based on diversity an innovation.

As we trend towards a knowledge-based economy, it is imperative that we remain competitive in the global marketplace.

If American universities and American politicians want to help higher education and the economy, it’s time to move beyond just lobbying to get foreign students into the country for a few years – but to talk about why it makes sense to welcome many for their careers.
Gautham Pandiyan

Is our Govenment Open to Share?



I attended the Gov 2.0 breakfast yesterday, hosted by BearingPoint and Information Week. We discussed topics around how government can benefit from using web 2.0 technologies. Below is the summary and my walk-away from the meeting:

·         Social media is a new way of managing across organizations, breaking the boundaries.

·         Set expectations and be realistic.

·          You cannot manage the entire group, but you can involve all for collaboration

·         How to get greater adoption to social media with the organization?  By gaining top-down advocacy.

Support needs to come from top leadership, where they have true interest and can benefit from the efforts. I have seen a few social media initiatives stall due to the lack of management support coupled by lack of linkage to business objectives.


·         Where do you look for inspiration? From other agencies/organizations that have implemented web 2.0 technologies.

·         Beware of the Shiny Object Syndrome. Web 2.0 seems to be the hottest thing on the web. Do spend some time to understand the technology and culture before you venture out.

·         80% of the value initially may be searchable information. Rather than file cabinet hidden. Don’t underestimate ‘electronic search’. Getting information out to the public.

·         There is inherent conflict between rules and usage. The more rules you create the less participation.

·         Organizational hierarchy is going to get disrupted. Thanks to web 2.0, communication is no longer coming from top-down. Rather bottoms-up, crisscross in all directions.


How do you start? 

·         Try out now tools while at the same time figuring out what you want to achieve

·         Understand your business objective and set a realistic goal

·         Expectations management , taking baby steps to approach this infancy stages of social media

·         be open to learning and be patient

·         A new set of shiny web 2.0 tool is only good if people adapt to it. And the reality is that it takes a while for the culture to shift and eventually change

My favorite quotes of the day:

·         Can political leadership not be an oxymoron?

·         Letting a 1000 flowers bloom when the gardener is anal-retentive

Do you go to church on Sunday?

I discovered the Unitarian church a few month ago and have been attending the service whenever I can. Ironically, what drew me to church was not because of any religious reasons; rather, it was seeking a community outside of my circle of friends. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of friends to hang out with and my calendar is typically 95% full, I was looking for something more, something je ne sais qroi..


So one day my hubby and I decided to give Unitarian church a try. We joke about going to a Unitarian church because it believes in everything and it believes in nothing. The ‘believe in everything’ part interest me. I grew up as a Buddhist while my hubby grew up as a catholic. Neither one of us are super religious but we both believe there is a higher power and would like to seek something spiritual.


We entered the church with people greeting us with a genuine smile. The church was beautiful! The light yellow coloring with columns connected to 2-sided balconies reminds me of across between Caribbean style mixed with French country. What I love about the service is the music. Every week, a rich and diverse range of music is introduced. I wish I have prettier words to describe it. From drums to saxophone, piano, guitar, choir, or the whole ensemble. Without a doubt every time the music wows me!


The preachers always tells personal stories everyone can relay and it’s mostly funny. But through the laughs you somehow walk away learning something new. I always ended up taking notes because someone will either say something wise that speaks to my heart, or something funny that I think it’s worth repeating.


As for today, the quote I noted was:

‘I’ve never been so cold and so happy at the same time! ‘

~ About attending Obama’s Inauguration


As for signing up to volunteer at the church to be more involved with the community? I have not decided yet. For now, we are simply happy Unitarian church goers.

First comes SharePoint, then comes Wiki


First comes SharePoint,

SharePoint! A Microsoft product you either hate or love. Microsoft states,
Your organization can use Office SharePoint Server 2007 to facilitate collaboration, provide content management features, implement business processes, and supply access to information that is essential to organizational goals and processes.
I partially agree with that statement. I think SharePoint can be a great tool for document repository. As for collaboration, it works for a small team with minimal documents. When used appropriately, SharePoint is also useful for content management. There are powerful features of SharePoint; the problem is that it is not intuitive. You almost have to be a SharePoint expert to appreciate all the SharePoint capabilities. Oftentimes documents are buried under multiple folders. It is difficult to get a dashboard view of the projects and documents housed in SharePoint. Bottom line, SharePoint is not the Holy Grail.

Then comes wiki …

Now we’re talking collaboration. Wikis are designed from the start for participation. Wiki is defined as a web based social collaboration tool that allows anyone to edit and contribute content. Wiki allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Usually, editing a wiki space is just a matter of clicking the edit button on any page top or section header, much simpler than track changes in Word.doc or editing via SharePoint.
Wikis provide a platform for people to work together, build knowledge, and make connections. Like anything, wiki has its limitations also. Although we are now seeing more plug-ins for open source wikis to enhance features. Currently, there is no way of directly embed PowerPoint slides into the wiki. A way around it is embed PowerPoint slide into Slideshare, then embed Slideshare in the wiki. Same thing with videos, it needs to be embedded via YouTube. Doable, but could be better. Click here to see some great ways companies can use wikis.
Overall, wiki is a great tool for open collaboration while SharePoint is a great tool for document repository.

Kadidid thoughts

Whenever I come across something interesting, I’d say to myself: ‘I need to blog about this’. But then the day goes on and I find myself getting trapped in my bottomless list-to-dos. So I am taking matters into my own hands and going just blog about the random things that I want to share. Let’s call it Kadidid thoughts. Warning: These thoughts have no common relationship. For those who knows me, my thoughts are typically random as my mind goes a million miles a minute.


1. Wordle is such a cool tool. I use it to make the word pic above.  


2. I don’t like the new Facebook look and feel. I am happy to know that I am not the only one .


3. Watch out for Google’s Beta Knol – part wiki, part blog, and part social computing platform though it is most often being compared with Wikipedia. Read more?

Facebook for Spies?

Social networking has been a hot topic for the last few years. Increasing number of corporations are adapting social networking into their business infrastructure. Most recently the social networking buzz landed with the government.


U.S. Intelligence agencies have created a social networking site called A-Space. It is designed for analysts across 16 intelligence agencies across the nation.  Instead of sharing opinions on perhaps the latest movie on Facebook, A-Space users are sharing information about al Qaeda and other national security related issues. For the first time spies can have a chance to think out loud and share top secret information amongst their peers.


Like other social networking sites, the goal to A-Space is to promote community and connectivity by assessing all the information available – to the spy agencies that is.


Food for thought:

If the intelligence community is already embracing social networking, why are there still so much resistance on adapting to social networking strategies in corporations?  Things that make you go hum..


Oh by the way,  the information on A-Space is highly classified, only intelligence personnel with the proper security clearance can access the site. Looks like 007 is still the way to go for a sneak peak of the Spy world.


Read more about this topic.