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Automated Social Media Governance and Government 2.0

Should social media governance be automated, and to what extent?

With the proliferation of Internet-based tools and forums to share information, deliver announcements or warnings and create collaborative networks, it’s become apparent that “self-policing” strategies for controlling and managing the risks involved in delivering content through the corporate firewall can’t mitigate most risks.

Most corporations and government agencies do indeed require, as terms of employment and various legislation, that care be taken and policies or procedures followed when engaging in online public discourse or otherwise moving content from the corporate-controlled environment to the public Internet.

Over the past years, many good tools and governance frameworks have been developed as a routine matter of enabling Internet content posting, distribution and syndication – but these have mostly focused on automation, protection and monitoring procedures associated with corporate-managed content. “Corporate-managed content” is defined as information products or artifacts that are specifically governed and managed by a combination of corporate policy, processes and information management systems.

The availability and use of Internet-based “Web 2.0” tools (when used with collaborative intent termed “Social Media”) from inside corporate and agency firewalls are exposing additional types of information and styles of communication that don’t fall neatly into the corporate-managed information bucket. These social media information types and communication styles are proving quite difficult to manage from many perspectives, including legal compliance, risk management, security, personal or corporate reputation management and overall productivity and return-on-investment (ROI).

Newer communication styles – such as those that result in creation of unmediated copies or renditions of original content - include things like “microblogging” (i.e. “Twitter”) and self-syndication, i.e. publishing content to sites like EzineArticles, Digg or public blogs, and enabling subscription to RSS feeds. These communication styles are used expressly for the purpose of enabling public propagation and information-sharing, for reasons ranging from actual corporate or agency public service mission, to marketing or simple relationship and reputation-building.

Newer information types (to be considered from a corporate information management perspective) include RSS-formatted messages, micromedia (i.e. small, highly-portable, low-bandwidth and standardized image or video files), tags and attributions, social media press releases, backlinks, comments and pingbacks – these are the currency of social media, and that which provides permanent, public evidence of collaboration.

Within the so-called “Enterprise 2.0” or especially "Government 2.0" context, these communication styles and information types aren’t so problematic – employee to employee socialization using corporate-managed Web 2.0 style tools is a low-risk, high-return activity, so long as it’s managed and monitored effectively. Many organizations have grown to understand and leverage information management tools to help control risk, productivity and costs associated with creating, publishing and sharing information internally. Systems that provide web content management, records management, business process and services registry/repository management, document management and various flavors of logging/auditing capabilities are well known and broadly-implemented. However, when these social media activities and content surface for public consumption on the Internet, unmanaged by corporate information management systems and associated with explicit or implicit attributes reflecting ownership, participation, intent, decisions, or opinion – the corporation or agency’s risk profile can rise dramatically, and asymmetrically.

Consider this use case. A government agency wishes to post a photograph and description of a road closure on the Internet, making sure that the information not only appears on local “traditional” media Internet channels and the agency’s own website and subscription channels, but also in local “user-generated” community websites, blogs, and discussion forums, as well as larger 3rd-party user-generated media sites that allow localization through keywords or other metadata. Basically, the news needs to get out to both the “pull” environments (i.e. online traditional media), and the “push” environments (i.e. online social dialogue environments). What’s the process?

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More Stories By Ted McLaughlan

Summary: Currently a Federal Enterprise Architect with Oracle, Ted has over 25 years in Commercial and Government Information Technology with University of Virginia, EDS, Accenture, KME Internet Marketing, Blackstone Technology Group, NavigationArts and CSC; additional focus recently on Interactive Design, Web 2.0 Internet Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Advertising. Specialties: Enterprise Architecture and Information Management, SOA/ESB, Enterprise Integration, Business Intelligence, Internet Safety and Security, Family Content Networks, Knowledge Management and Collaboration, User-Defined Operational Pictures/Common Operating Pictures (UDOP/COP), Situational Awareness, Portals, Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Website Design/Development and Optimization - Certified Systems Engineer - Certified Enterprise Solution Architect