Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Twitter guidelines Template Shared by UK

The US Marines have just announced the banning of Social media tools over their network. That is one strategy, but problematic where users are not isolated on overseas posts. Organisations and Government Agencies generally have to come to terms with the fact that many of their employees are connected. If not at work, then certainly at home. Moreover, a total ban prevents effective use of a potentially powerful work tool. The generous offer to share his work by Neil Williams offers a good basis for organisations to develop their own strategy document for Twitter.

Template Twitter strategy for Government Departments
Template Twitter strategy for Government Departments
by Neil Williams 21. July 2009 10:39

Guest post by Neil Williams, head of corporate digital channels at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Neil blogs at and is @neillyneil on Twitter.

You might think a 20-page strategy a bit over the top for a tool like Twitter.

After all, microblogging is a low-barrier to entry, low-risk and low-resource channel relative to other corporate communications overheads like a blog or printed newsletter. And the pioneers in corporate use of Twitter by central government (see No 10, CLG and FCO) all started as low-profile experiments and grew organically into what they are today.

But, having held back my JFDI inclinations long enough to sit down and write a proper plan for BIS's corporate Twitter account, I was surprised by just how much there is to say - and quite how worth saying it is, especially now the platform is more mature and less forgiving of mistakes.

So in case it's of use to others who are thinking of doing the same, I've turned BIS's Twitter strategy into a generic template Twitter strategy for Departments (PDF file) [Scribd version ]

Lesson from the Challenge of Open government

Several Government organizations in Australia, US and UK have been experimenting with engaging Citizens in the process of Government. There's a big gap between expectations and the responses. I'm concerned at the number of people that take the opportunity to 'vent their spleen' with off topic and sometimes quite rude behaviour. Federal computer week has this report analysing the approach the US Government has taken, and what can be done differently. It's worth a read for anyone interested in Gov2.0 initiatives.

Open Government Initiative provides plenty of lessons -- Federal Computer Week
How Lena Trudeau would do things differently the next time the government seeks citizen engagement

* By Brian Robinson
* Jul 15, 2009

President Barack Obama’s Open Government Initiative states its mission simply: create a two-way dialogue between the American people and their government and develop policies that benefit from the diverse perspectives of an engaged citizenry.

An experiment in online policy development

The first work order for the Obama administration’s Open Government Initiative is to develop a formal directive that will establish the ground rules for a more open and transparent government.

One method chosen to help complete this task was itself open and transparent: a three-phase series of public online forums, each featuring a different collaboration tool and each with its own goals.

* Phase I: Brainstorm. Members of the public were invited to share their ideas on how to make government more open. Site visitors could post ideas, discuss and refine others' ideas, and vote the best ones to the top.
* Phase II: Discuss. Blog posts generated online responses and discussions about the best ideas identified during the brainstorming phase.
* Phase III: Draft. Participants could use a wiki — think of a collective word-processing document — to collaborate on policy proposals to address the challenges identified in the discussion phase.

But first, the administration wanted to have a public dialogue about how future dialogues might best take place. The meeting spot they chose for the kick-off confab was online, through a series of three Web-based forums during a six-week period starting in May.

But a funny thing happened on the way to collective enlightenment. People have a lot on their minds, and given a platform to say it, particularly a national one, they will say it, whether it’s on topic or not.

Last week, Federal Computer Week asked three experts to assess the methods and results of OGI’s preliminary experiment in online public engagement.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Can UI be an Access Issue

Techpresident has reported on the developing interest in access to Government information through an interesting perspective - 'obfuscating' user interface. Political Exclusion Through Bad UI | techPresident Political Exclusion Through Bad UI
Nancy Scola | June 17, 2009 - 12:43pm | 1 comment | Email This!

There was one illuminating exchange in yesterday's otherwise vapid Senate confirmation hearing of Julius Genachowski. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) raised the idea that the impression that the Federal Communications Commission is "captured by industry" isn't helped by the fact that, to borrow from a 2007 GAO report, "it is nearly impossible to find information on the FCC's website...and much of the data filed with the commission is not even accessible online." Meanwhile, said Rockefeller, FCC staffers are personally calling telecom industry stakeholders to let them know when important votes and other events are coming up.

In other words, the FCC's website at is a case study in obfuscation through ugliness, an unequal political playing field tilted worse by horrid user interface. Genechowski, who studiously avoided making any news during the hearing, responded in broad strokes: "If confirmed, my goal would be for the FCC website and new media operation to be a model for the government." But the exchange still puts a new point on why new media work is so important, no more so than at a powerful agency like the FCC.