Government agencies to use social networking sites


Agencies can now engage with citizens through popular media technologies such as video-sharing service YouTube, using pre-negotiated service agreements that comply with federal terms and conditions.

After nine months of negotiations, the General Services Administration signed agreements with four video-sharing and social networking sites: Flickr, Vimeo, and YouTube. GSA also is negotiating with the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace.[...]

Most agencies will appoint directors of new media to determine how they can use social networking tools to meet mission goals and comply with President Obama's open government directive, said Sheila Campbell, team leader of Web best practices for the government portal and co-chair of the Federal Web Managers Council.

Very exciting!


Online Civic Networks

At Public Agenda we are currently brainstorming the idea to create online social networks with a focus on civic life for communities, hosted by a sponsoring coalition of local entities (city agencies, non-governmental institutions, ...), that keep engaged citizens in the loop, allow them to network and enable the sponsors to easily host civic engagement activities.



Please let us know your thoughts and get in touch with us, challer [at] publicagenda [dot] org­

Clickz Building Online Communities


Clickz just posted a quick roundup on how to build online communities. The insights are not necessarily new, but I found the planning rules section to be a great summary of three central concepts of online communities: 

  • 90-9-1 rule. Of your audience, 1 percent will actively answer questions and post, 9 percent will comment and ask questions, and 90 percent will passively read the content on your community.

  • ­­30-1­0-10 rule. In general, during any 30-day period, about 10 percent of the traffic that sees your community promotion will visit your community area. Of this 10 percent, about 10 percent will register and participate in your forum. (Note: Most sites only require registration to post. Adding registration requirements will lower your participation rate.) It's critical to note that this indicator will vary based on several factors, such as the type and placement of your promotion. Also, the percentages tend to be lower for highly trafficked sites, such as major media destinations. Business-to-business communities by their nature attract smaller, more targeted audiences.

  • 5-to-10-posts-per-day-per-forum rule. To reach critical mass, visitors must feel that a community is vibrant enough to merit return visits. You need roughly 5 to 10 posts per day per forum to achieve this goal. In the early stages, either a core of fans or company employees may be needed to help get the community going. For a healthy community, there should be about 10 percent to 20 percent growth per month in the number of posts during the community's first year. Over time, this trend tends to flatten out.
Especially the last one appears to be the central problem of pretty much 90% of the efforts of online community building out there.

Tool Tip: MixedInk

MixedInk is a document editing site that allows large groups to democratically create a shared collaborative document. The service fuses concepts from social news sites like Digg and popular wiki sites to create a unique document creation tool that is ideal for groups far larger than feasible on other collaborative writing platforms. This could well be the next generation of collaboration tools for government, think shared statements or summaries of deliberative efforts or even policy-making.


Geek Appointed as Director of Citizen Participation

And that's good news, another sign that eParticipation is ready for prime time. 

Hopes are raised today that's sort of citizen engagement is on its way to As first reported by MediaMemo's Peter Kafka, Google's Katie Jacobs Stanton will be joining the White House as the new Director of Citizen Participation, starting in March.

What's fascinating is that in bringing Stanton in-house, the Obama Administration is bringing in the mechanic to drive the car (or some less clunky phrase). Stanton, reports the TechChuck blog, was part of the team that brought to life Google Moderator. That's the tool that powered's Open for Questions. And during the presidential campaign, Stanton worked on the company's Elections and Moderator team. (via TechPresident)


Tool Tip: aMap - Diagrams of any argument in an interactive mindmap

aMap is short for 'argument map'. The idea's very simple - to get more people arguing by mapping out complex debates in a simple visual format.


Techcrunch's first impression: "UK-startup Team Rubber has come out with a nifty embeddable widget called aMap that lets you make a diagram of any argument with supporting logic in an interactive mindmap. The widget lets you flit from one point to another.

For instance, in the aMap below an argument is made that Apple will flourish without Steve Jobs (because he “turned his personality traits into business processes” and Pixar does fine without him). You can argue anything. Blog or Twitter? Cat or Dog? (see below).

You can also reply to make a counterargument (”Apple Will Be Set Adrift Without A Strong Leader”). But here is where aMap breaks down. Instead of incorporating the reply into the original mindmap, it creates a new one at a new URL, with a link below the original one in the list of replies. That will just encourage forking arguments. It would also be better if you could vote the best aMaps up.

Right now, aMap only lets users map out their own arguments rather than see the relationships between arguments, although that is a direction the company may go in the future. It is also planning to add geo-data to map out arguments around the world."

Top 10 Websites to Connect With the Obama Administration

usa_serviceWhat websites exist for interacting with our new President? Shaun Dakin takes a look at tools that the Obama administration will control and those that they will not over on Mashable >> 

The Participatory Inaugural


The Washington Post calls it the Participatory Inaugural... it provides an early example of how the techniques of an unusually interactive campaign may be marshaled not only on behalf of a political agenda but on be­half of changing American civic culture in the years ahead.

"You don't have to brave the crowds and commotion in order to participate in this celebration, because we've made this Inauguration open and accessible to communities across our nation," Obama says in the video. "Just text the word 'open' to 56333 for news, transportation updates, and ways you can participate."

Happy inauguration day!

Things are happening fast, and I'm gonna leave covering the celebrations up to others. 

Two quick things to note:

  • is now The switch happened right at 12.01pm, just as Obama officially became President. Even though it doesn't offer as many opportunities to get engaged as yet, it's off to a great start including a blog, weekly videos etc. Can't wait to see how this is going to change the perception of online engagement.
  • Thanks CNN for pushing a neat tool to present images - Photosynth, even though created by Microsoft..., is actually a really great application to use crowd sourcing to capture significant events like this and create a vast 3D landscape from it. This takes collaborative photo sharing efforts to a whole new level, check it out over at CNN,

Blogs vs. Wikis - Oldschool but funny

Found this funny video on Nancy White's Fullcirc website. The discussion blogs vs. wikis is a little 2003ish - I'm glad to see online engagement mature beyond this question and new tools evolve. 


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