Archive for January, 2011

You CAN teach old dogs new tricks

Senators Schumer and Boxer now have twitter accounts at @ChuckSchumer and @senatorboxer respectively. Meanwhile, Senator Feinstein now has a facebook account.

“Inside the 112th Congress’s Great Twitter Handover” from TechCrunch

I was going to write about the excellent transition of twitter user-names by the GOP leadership, but Nancy Scola on TechCrunch did a much better job.

An excerpt:

If you’re John Boehner, who was until today @GOPLeader as well as the Minority Leader in the House, you can simply rebrand your account @SpeakerBoehner and keep your followers, or you can hand the keys to @GOPLeader over to the new Minority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia — and thus give him a welcoming present of the 70,000 followers collected under that account. Boehner went with the first option, bequeathing the name to Cantor but not the followers. “The new Majority and GOP Leader Mr. Cantor and his staff will take good care of it,” says Nick Schaper, Boehner’s new media director.

Read the entire article here.

New social media accounts for governors

Social media accounts for NY Gov Cuomo, HI Gov Abercrombie, and CA Gov Brown have been added to the Governor’s page

A small social media mistake

Over the weekend, Andrew Cuomo was sworn in as the next Governor of New York. Immediately, the Governor’s page of the state website was changed to reflect the new administration. Happily, it looks like Governor Cuomo will be using social media, as there were links to Facebook, Twitter, RSS and Flickr. Unfortunately, no one from the Governor’s office thought it might be a good idea to register the twitter account it was linking to.

As the New York Times reported, early Sunday morning a well intentioned prankster discovered the fact that the twitter account @NYGovernor was not registered, registered it, and then began tweeting. While the account picked up a few hundred followers in a relatively short time, it quickly became apparent that the account was not being run from someone inside the Government. The Governor’s office was alerted to their mistake a few hours later. They registered a different twitter profile, @nygovcuomo, and changed the link on the website.

In the future, government officials should be more careful about associating with unregistered accounts, as such associations are tantamount to a verification that the social media in questions is coming from the official.

Interestingly, Alex Howard at O’Reilly pointed out today that under a new law in California that went into effect over the weekend, it’s now against the law to impersonate a government official online.

Full Disclosure: GovSM was hoodwinked by the fake account, if only temporarily :)

Guest post “GovSM: From Ma Bell to Leatherman”

I am pleased to introduce a guest blogger this week. Gadi Ben-Yehuda is the Social Media Director for The IBM Center for the Business of Government. His advice and guidance the past few months has been invaluable.

Find Chris Christie’s Friends, Read Sarah Palin’s Daily Newspaper

Note: I am on vacation this week, so I have the time to write blog entries (like this one) that are not reflective of the opinions of my employer. These thoughts and their form is entirely my own.

Last October, I wrote “if agencies’ social media sites were like phone numbers, Josh [Shpayher] looked around and realized there was no central phone book. So he made one and it’s called GovSM. And it’s a Wiki.” But in early December, Josh added a new component to the site that propelled it far beyond a 1930′s operator, connecting us to our government: he began to give his site’s visitors a way to see what governors and federal officials were doing on their social media sites, how often they updated them, and who was following or friending them. He did this by adding fields with links to their Facebook Grader, Klout, Twitalyzer, and Tweetlevel scores.

This is an important addition to the site, and I hope that it presages more steps in the same direction. Essentially, it moves the site from a directory to a multi-use analytical tool. Yes, it’s important to know where to find agencies’ and elected officials’ social media sites, but it’s even more important to know how they’re using it, who’s receiving their feeds, and who they themselves are following.

(For those within agencies, I’ll also add that it’s important to know how social media figures in to records retention, the subject of a recent IBM Center for the Business of Government publication, straightforwardly titled, “How Federal Agencies Can Effectively Manage Records Created Using New Social Media Tools“)

Of the sites GovSM links to, the one I like most is Klout, because it generates easy-to-read charts that illustrate the frequency and reach of a user’s Twitter feed. For example, Governor Christie’s charts reveal a Twitterer who is retweeted between 300 – 500 times a day.

Even more useful, however, would be an add-on that showed who was retweeting. At the very least, we can now plug Twitter users into Friend or Follow, where we learn that Governor Christie follows 87 of his own followers, including Deval Patrick, Sean Hannity, Jimmy Fallon, Michelle Malkin, Chuck Grassley, Cory Booker, and Michael Steele.

This is important, because many people have begun using Twitter as a human-power news aggregator. In the next election, when Katie Couric asks a candidate what media they read, a legitimate answer might be “whatever my staff of 1,000 followers links to that makes it onto my daily paper.li site.” Sarah Palin’s daily newspaper is now available to everyone for review.

In short, GovSM is becoming more than just a wiki: the best term is probably “mashup,” but that sets it among the silly as well as the sublime, and doesn’t hint at its future as an indispensable tool for transparency and analysis. I hope that more people become involved in the project, both as developers and as users, so that we’ll create a community of data miners and analyzers up to the task of discerning meaning from information.

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