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Sep
25th
Sat
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SECTOR: PUBLIC - A New Site About Technology For Public Good

Last week, during the Mashable / 92Y / UN Foundation “Social Good Summit" in New York, I launched a new website called SECTOR: PUBLIC.  The focus of this blog is on leading the conversation about innovative social change via technology’s influence on the public sector, public service, and public good.
 
From my “Letter from the Editor”:

Right now, three entities contributing to the public good – citizens, the public sector, and private businesses – are incredibly dependent on each other. Citizens need support from government and the broader public sector, and jobs from businesses.  The public sector needs the support of the private sector through products and services, and needs input, ideas, and other contributions from its citizens.  And private sector organizations increasingly seek to stand for something more than merely selling products – they seek to help the public sector and contribute to citizens’ well-being.

SECTOR: PUBLIC lives where these three entities meet.  If necessity is the mother of invention, there has been no period in our lifetimes during which technological innovation is able to have such a great impact on civic progress.  Every day at SECTOR: PUBLIC, we will discuss cutting-edge technology, share public sector stories, and provide thought leadership about how American progress and public good are being both disrupted and benefited by the rapid innovation era we are living through.

Check out a well-received initial post about “Open Government Entrepreneurship" and read our "Geek 2 Chic" interview with the innovative CEO of iStrategyLabs, Peter Corbett.
 
I hope that many of you find my new website about public sector and public service stories involving technology useful and interesting!
 
You can subscribe to SECTOR: PUBLIC by email or RSS, and follow the Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/sectorpublic.  Learn more about our goals for the site in this Federal News Radio interview.
 

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Aug
16th
Mon
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Education By The Numbers

Really interesting graphic about global education, by the numbers.
 

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Aug
10th
Tue
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In-line annotation on a personal blog as the new “correction” for the subject of a hit piece

Fast Company just ran an article about advertising guru Alex Bogusky called, “Alex Bogusky Tells All: He Left the World’s Hottest Agency to Find His Soul.”  He disagreed with some parts of it, and had comments to make on others.  Why lobby for a correction, or get into a tiff with the writer?  Just annotate it yourself.
 
And he did, on his personal blog, in two parts (Part 1, Part 2). Not only is it really interesting to read in-line comments from the subject of the original piece, his annotations are garneringon some level more interest than the original article - just the first part of his material has way more comments than the Fast Company piece.  The art of the personal.
 
Perhaps this is a good reason for famous people to have blogs.  Real blogs.  Not just Twitter feeds, and not fancy websites for retail stuff.  Blogs.  Now when someone writes about you, you can tell your side of the story, immediately, in your voice, and also host a discussion about the discussion.  In fact, pulling the discussion away from the publication that got it wrong to your own personal media property.  Innovative stuff.
 

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Aug
2nd
Mon
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Cured Meat: It’s What’s For Breakfast

What’s the deal with cured meat? It only seems to be available after dark. All these lovely plates of salumi and other delicacies, served with mustard and wine and tiny cornichons… But why can’t I get any for breakfast?  When I travel it’s always the same hotel room service for breakfast - bacon, sausage, and ham.  And not even fancy versions of these.  How about scambling me up some eggs with some of those delicacies you’re saving for your evening customers? Sadly, I have to check out by 11am.
 
Well, I took this up with Chef Richard at Charlie Palmer in the very lovely Joule Hotel (Starwood Hotels) in Dallas, TX.  He cures the meats himself and takes great pride in it.  And they’re good - I ate a whole plate. But why can’t I have more tomorrow morning before I leave, I asked.  Chef Richard was inspired by our conversation - and did himself proud with a special Pastrami Benedict with savory corncake and red pepper hollandaise sauce.  Delicious (see photo, next to my copy of Dallas Modern Luxury magazine).
 
A couple lessons here.
 
One, business travelers often consider breakfast the most important meal of the day while traveling. Basic hotel chains have figured this out, offering free buffet breakfast with a room or different variations on that theme. But frankly, a lot of high end hotels have fairly boring breakfasts. Think about adding cured meats to the in room breakfast dining repertoire!
 
Two, this is just great customer service. Chef Richard didn’t have to do this; he could have just had a nice conversation and went about his way that night. But instead he was back the next morning writing a personal note to send up with my food. This is the kind of thing travelers remember when visiting a big city with many “good” hotels to choose from. I know where I’m staying - and eating - next time I’m in Dallas: Charlie Palmer and The Joule Hotel.

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Jul
30th
Fri
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Best Of: Fake Wikileaks Leaks

Last night I tweeted some fake Wikileaks leaks. Here’s a summary:
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak bad advice during a Public Service Announcement.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak the truth behind Santa in a special “Children’s Edition.”
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak the end of the infamous “Man from Nantucket” riddle.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak tomorrow’s soup du jour.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak the Salahi’s “off the grid” FourSquare check-ins.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak slowly, drop by drop, on your forehead while you sleep.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak real-time whereabouts of former SNL cast members.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak the results of the Nightingale School student body president election.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak after patiently waiting in line during the seventh-inning stretch.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak detailed Gym, Tanning, Laundry regimen of the Jersey Shore cast.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak every Twitter direct message.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak those night vision pictures you took last night.
 
BREAKING: Wikileaks to leak BP’s oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
 

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Jul
29th
Thu
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Government 2.0, Phase 3: Stable Solutions

I’ve written before about the three phases of open government, or government 2.0 - Surprises, Experiments, and Solutions. Basically, from about 2007-8, open government had a lot to do with “surprises,” being surprised that blogging was useful, or using Twitter was okay. 
 
From about 2009-10, the area moved to a phase of experiments, in which it was okay to experiment with new media and other emerging technologies like cloud and mobile, and see how these might enhance government missions ranging from public affairs to intelligence analysis to cross-agency collaboration.
 
And starting about now and basically 2011-12, I see a phase of solutions. People are finding that (say) Twitter alone, or (say) a Facebook Group alone are not in themselves providing holistic solutions to government challenges.  There may be cybersecurity issues, or reliability issues, or interoperability issues, and so forth.
 
Long term reliable solutions will require a reliable foundation that provides a secure way of doing things but can also interweave new and even unreliable or untested new media or other technologies.  To this end, a new white paper called Gov 2.0: Promoting Inclusive, Open, and Transparent Government through Technology White Paper sponsored by Microsoft has been published by HiSoftware.
 
I wasn’t involved in writing this paper, but I did just read it, and it seems to take a more “phase 3: solutions” point of view of government 2.0, one that requires a foundation of something like SharePoint software so that people can be social but also safe.  Feel free to disagree, or debate, but I think it’s worth a look as a nice contribution to the open government literature.
 
 

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Jul
25th
Sun
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Government 2.0: The Newest Reality of New Media

New media has knocked on the doors of the White House and the rest of the U.S. government twice in the last week or so, but it looks like no one is answering (so to speak).
 
First, a partial two minute 45 second video of USDA political appointee Shirley Sherrod giving an NAACP speech was posted by influential blogger (Who some people in the media still claimed not to know? Please. He’s like the new Howard Stern.) Andrew Breitbart, which led to a knee-jerk reaction to it, and her subsequent firing. No need to rehash precisely what the video content was. But post-firing, the entire video came out, and as it turns out she was saying precisely the opposite of what the edited video made it seem like she was saying… because it was out of content.
 
Breitbart is blamed.
 
Second, the “whistle-blower” site called WikiLeaks has posted what it claims are tens of thousands of authentic Afghanistan war documents.  White House national security advisor James Jones “strongly condems” this action and complains that the website did not make efforts to contact the government before posting.
 
WikiLeaks is blamed.
 
These examples are not necessarily highly unique, but they are recent and back to back.  What’s common between them is that (1) someone published information, (2) everyone affected is surprised, (3) the publisher is blamed.  What’s interesting is that (1) is obvious, (2) is outdated, and (3) does no good.
 
I don’t want to call him out in case he disagrees with this, but a wise Department of Defense person commonly says that the new media environment is “not a fortress to defend, but rather a field to maneuver within.”  I think he is right.  Yet, despite some progress towards “open government” or “government 2.0” and an increased use of and reliance on new forms of media (check out DoD’s new Social Media Hub), most leaders seem to not completely grasp its impact on the world around them.
 
The world has changed.  Everyone is a publisher and they do not adhere to journalistic standards and other quaint attitudes and rule sets and guidelines.  I am not making a value judgement here about what either Breitbart nor WikiLeaks do or did; however, people in the government - not to mention every other person in the civilized world - need to come to terms with the fact that they will do it and will not stop doing it.
 
The real question is not how to get back at them, nor how to stop them, nor how to regulate them, nor how to control information better, nor any one of a number of other issues that seem to get debated.  Those issues are largely irrelevant because they involve “defending the fortress” of information.  The issues that are relevant are those that involve “maneuver within the environment” of constantly published digital information. 
 
The true essence of “open government” is not adopting new tools, nor collaborating better, nor even providing better services to citizens.  That’s all important.  But the true essence of open government is adopting a workplace culture that accepts the changed environment of media and adapts to it.  
 
Getting a Twitter account, a blog, and a Facebook fan page is not the end of the race. It’s the starter’s pistol. It’s not graduation - it’s the first day of class.
 

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Jul
14th
Wed
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Online Priorities: Blog Traffic vs. Community Building

As I get ready to launch a new website, I’ve been thinking about what my priorities are with it, and how to measure if I’m accomplishing what I want to accomplish.  And so, one issue I’ve been thinking about is whether measuring things like blog hits or unique visitors or time spent on site is important (regardless of community), or if providing value to a community of people I help to build is the most important (regardless of size).
 
I tend to lean heavily towards the idea of building a meaningful community that I provide value to, and get value out of, online and off.  And while, of course, I’ll run some analytics to see how I’m doing (I’d be sad if my posts got like, less than 100 hits or something), I’m not really concerned with pageviews.  What I really want are new community connections, invites to events where my presence could be useful, and emails where people thank me for consistently producing the website.  On some level, sure, 10,000 readers are better than 1000, and 1000 is better than 100.  But don’t I want to get them organically rather than through some form of artificial insemination?  I think, yes.
 
Look, if your business model is to build a blog that gets lots of pageviews, and that in turn allows you to sell ads, I think that’s fine.  I don’t even have a problem with getting those pageviews at any cost.  But I think a lot of people are going about that wrong, tactically.  So, here’s my advice for pumping up those pageviews and really building a highly trafficked web property.  Ready?
 
(1) Delete your current blog. It’s really not worth the effort.
(2) Start a free blog using Blogger or something.
(3) Search Flickr for photos that are legal to use via Creative Commons.
          (3b) Make sure those photos are of beautiful people.
(4) Add some personalization using free photo editing software.
          (4b) Be creative with lolcat captions (“I POKE U LONG TIEM”) or funny mustaches.
(5) Post photos relentlessly.
(6) Get to know everyone doing the same thing and link it all up.
(7) Measure pageviews and sell ads for lubricants and dirty movies.
(8) Count your cash on your brand new yacht.
 
Operating costs = $0 / year
Time spent working = 4 hours / week (Tim Ferriss would be so proud)
Estimated earnings = $1,000,000 / year
 
If you think this is silly, well, maybe it is.  But when it comes down to it, if the thing you care the most about, if the thing you are most competitive about, is eyeballs viewing your page, why spend time interviewing people at events or researching technology trends or giving opinions about sports?  I could beat you out in a tenth of the time with out-of-focus bikini shots that someone else took with a kiddie camera.
 
Oh wait - you want to do something meaningful? That’s cool. Then don’t worry about the pageviews and uniques and ad rates and all the rest of it.  Worry about great content that builds a community you can activate.  I know people who can declare a meetup and fill a huge restaurant with people on a few day’s notice. I know people who can turn a city topsy-turvy with a festival.  Can you activate your community to do useful and interesting things, or just game them into clicking on links?
 
I guess the real question you have to ask yourself is, What business are you in?
 

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Jul
10th
Sat
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Entrepreneurial Lessons From Investor Michael Burry

Few people saw the gigantic housing/financial crisis coming, but independent investor Michael Burry did - back in 2005.  Terrific author Michael Lewis (Liar’s Poker and others) has an excerpt from his new book The Big Short in a recent issue of Vanity Fair, called Betting on the Blind Side (double meaning, gotta read it) which is very interesting in itself.  But I took a few lessons from it that I think are useful to businesspeople, startup founders,a nd technologists. Here are a few of my thoughts.
 
Don’t be afraid to be different, or original: Burry grew up different; he lost an eye and had a fake one. He was also later diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. He acted differently, he thought differently. He used that to take an original course in life, and make original, insightful investment decisions, even when his investors didn’t necessarily believe in what he was doing.
 
Make a change to something you’re passionate about: Burry started his career as a medical doctor, but it bored him. He learned about investing in stocks on the side and got interested in computers. That led to some investing, and also some blogging, and that eventually led to him leaving his Stanford residency to start a hudge fund in his home.
 
Give valuable gifts and you shall receive them: When he was a doctor, he would blog about value investing and trades he was making or thinking about… and bigger fish were reading his blog and making money off his ideas. But when Burry started Scion (his fund), his first investor was his biggest fan - a big fish in New York. That’s how he made his first million.
 
Don’t stop believing: In 2005, Burry started moving a lot of his investing interest from stocks to credit-default swaps on mortgage-backed securities. When many of his advisors became aware of this, they weren’t happy and wanted explanations, and even their money back. Burry defended his idea and told them to hang on until 2007, when he made $100 million personally and $750 million for his investors.
 
Be happy with yourself: After the bubble burst, a lot of things changed in investing and in life. Burry made a big profit, auctioned off the rest of positions to banks, liquidated and then closed up shop to concentrate on his personal life. He ditched his unhappy (enriched) clients, pulled away from the big (unwise) banks, and continues to do is own thing, which presumably pleases him.
 

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Jun
30th
Wed
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It’s About Trust: Thoughts on Location-Based Services, Especially FourSquare

People in the blogosphere are very interested, and even congratulatory, on location-based service FourSquare’s new round of venture funding, to the tune of $20 million. I’ve used the technology, it’s very interesting. It was even “fun” for a time, which I think is important for building communities. And I’ve seen a lot of new friends and acquaintances checking it out.
 
But I also have no choice but to wonder - where is it going? In general, the fun aspects of the service - badges and points - are worth nothing, and when they are, there is often confusion about them - for example, numerous blog posts written by people unable to get Starbucks freebies.
 
In order for this - free stuff for checking in, basically - to work, there needs to be coordination and trust among four groups of people. Namely, (1) the geo-services company, (2) the users, (3) business owners and managers, and (4) line staff. I have personally seen a number of disconnects in which (for example) a manager advertises a special for being Mayor and a waitress has no idea what you’re talking about.
 
I commented as much on ReadWriteWeb’s article about FourSquare and its funding, which San Francisco Chronicle writer Nick Saint seems to have taken a bit out of context. But what I wrote is true: I was a bit excited about the company personally, tried reaching out to do something work-related with Microsoft and their publi sector business and had trouble connecting with anyone, and then became a bit dejected.
 
Far from what Nick Saint wrote, I don’t think FourSquare will “fail” (I never wrote that), but I do think there’s a fairly narrow discussion happening in the whole “geo-app” space. I don’t necessarily see why FourSquare or Gowalla or even Facebook will necessarily be the market leader. People generally speak of these three as if they’re predertermined.
 
That’s based on the geo-app environment not changing. But it could change very easily. It goes back to trust - who do you trust for local information as an average consumer or user? Something like FourSquare or Gowalla? Or what about something like Yelp (which is now sometimes discussed)?
 
Let’s take this a step further. What other location-based services do you broadly use? Maybe it’s EveryBlock + MSNBC. Maybe it’s OpenTable. Maybe it’s CraigsList. There are probably a dozen or more similar sites that you trust, use, and that contain geo-information about businesses and other locations.
 
I look forward to seeing a lot more in this exciting location-based services space. From my personal vantage point, I think this: Deploying the app and making it cool isn’t the real challenge. Building trust among the userbase is.
 

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Jun
9th
Wed
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Government 2.0 Movement Seemingly Passes By Twitter, Inc.

A recent story, titled “Twitter to hire White House liaison to help policymakers ‘tweet more effectively’" reported that Twitter, Inc. of California plans to hire its first employee outside headquarters - in Washington, DC.  Great idea, except that the position seems like something useful from one or two years ago.
 
From the Telegraph UK:

The company, which has yet to employ anyone outside of San Francisco, is looking for someone to be the “closest point of contact with a variety of important people and organisations looking to get the most out of Twitter on both strategic and highly tactical levels”, according to the job advert.

The ‘Government Liaison’ will be responsible for helping Twitter understand what it can do “to better serve candidates and policymakers across party and geographical lines”. They will also “support policymakers use of Twitter to help them communicate and interact with their constituents and the world” and help set the culture and approach of a “fledgling public policy department”.

Twitter, Inc. needs a dose of reality here. Besides people like me who were using Twitter and other tools in and near government two years ago and more, there are now countless consultants working inside the Beltway to develop and carry out plans for using the servicein combination with other tools for diverse government missions ranging for public affairs to military recruiting to national security. And while savvy senior leaders may certainly meet with someone from Twitter, they certainly don’t really need Twitter’s help to figure out how to use it for diplomatic relations; sorry, the State Department is better at using new media in a holistic manner than any group I know.

This appears like a company out of touch, hopping on a bandwagon. Good luck with this initiative Twitter Inc., but in all honesty, one person in DC to “advise policymakers on tactical issues” is trivial, and the help is really not needed. (Ironically, the leaders of Twitter are not the best at tactically using Twitter to help their company communicate with stakeholders … I’d rather see someone like Guy Kawasaki advising government public affairs on creatively communicating.) On the policy side with regard to telecommunications or privacy or related issues, it is not obvious that Twitter is as big of a player as say, Facebook. I’m curious to see who gets this job and how they make the most of it, but if I were Twitter, I’d get a better feel for Washington DC and then rewrite and advertise this six months from now.
 
What Twitter Inc. line employees really need to do is show up and participate and get some ground truth. I recently attended the wonderful Gov 2.0 Expo (in… wait for it… DC) and Personal Democracy Forum (in Manhattan, not exactly a hardship assignment) events, where people from Twitter could have mixed and mingled and listened and learned. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think anyone from Twitter attended. They must have been busy writing an uninformed job description from a San Francisco ivory tower.
 
Twitter’s chairman Jack Dorsey is perhaps the single employee most in touch with Washington, DC.  As I type this he’s in town, at least partly for a political fundraiser last night that used his innovative new device, Square (side note: I think Square is revolutionary and totally underappreciated as yet), and he among other things has participated in some work with the State Department and spoke at the Government 2.0 Summit last September. If nothing else, his advice might be more valuable at headquarters than people think.

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May
28th
Fri
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Blog Comments Are Unnecessary For Influence

Four days ago I published a post for O’Reilly Radar called, What Does Government 2.0 Look Like? Well, it’s not so much a blog post as an abbreviated white paper. I thought it was a really good post, and then I published it and received zero comments. Not one. And my posts on similar topics on the same well-trafficked site often get numerous comments, and sometimes even many.
 
So, I thought that perhaps this post didn’t really indluence anybody.
 
But I was wrong. I was also co-hosting the giant Government 2.0 Expo in Washington DC this week, and because I was on stage most of the attendees knew who I was, walking around the halls. Quite a number of people stopped me to say that they saw my post and it really changed how they think, or some variation on that.  And meanwhile well over 100 people have shared the article on Twitter alone.
 
The article generated word of mouth, and was influencing people.  Perhaps too much - they didn’t quite know what to say about it because it was somewhat outside the box.
 
Comments on blogs are one way to measure influence, or more generally readership. But they’re certainly not the only way. You can generate a lot of comments by being a complete idiot and asking for feedback - lots of people will help you with that.  On the flip side you can write something brilliant but outside the mainstream and influence a lot of people who don’t have immediate feedback because they need to gestate for a while.
 
So if you have a blog that rarely gets comments, don’t forget that there are other metrics of audience, word of mouth, and influence.

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May
21st
Fri
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Are You Determined To Change?

Seth Godin wrote a blog today called, “You Can See The Determination In His Eyes,” which I’m reprinting below without any permission whatsoever. (I think Seth would want me to share.)
[“You can see the determination in his eyes.”] That’s the way a friend described someone she had just met. She was sure (just as I’m sure) that he’s going places. Once the determination is in his eyes, the learning will take care of itself.

On the other hand, if I can see the fear in your eyes, then I’m not sure that learning alone will take care of the problem. No one can prove that the path you’re on is risk free or guaranteed to work. Searching for more proof is futile. Searching for more determination makes more sense.

This really resonated with me, as someone who’s not only doing my own thing at work, but also educating/training/inspiring colleagues to change some aspects of how they work. I think it’s true that learning alone is not enough.  I keep getting asked to speak at company events, sit in on conference calls, and brainstorm with other teams.  But my teaching is not enough; people have to be determined to hear the message and act on it.  That’s way harder.

Are you determined to change?


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May
5th
Wed
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Top 10 Ways How Not To Socially Engage Me

Here are the Top 10 general rules to follow if you want to socially engage me in a completely unimpressive way:
 
(1) Work for a company I’ve never heard of. Tell me impressive yet non-specific things about it.
(2) Make a lunch reservation at an expensive restaurant. Offer to pay.
(3) Be sure to have a vague agenda that I cannot prepare for.
(4) Email me repeatedly to make sure we’re still on for lunch.
(5) Don’t show up. Definitely don’t call the restaurant, because that’ll be the best way to get in touch with me.
(6) Show up at the restaurant 30 minutes late and wonder where I am. Claim that you didn’t know how to get in touch.
(7) Visit my office and ask the receptionist to meet with me later in the afternoon.
(8) Get rejected.
(9) Email me and apologize and tell me you “owe me one.”
(10) Never hear from me again.
True story.
 

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Apr
15th
Thu
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Governments and Citizens: You Don’t Own Your Tweets

Just finished video blogging about this for GovFresh.com but I felt this warrented a written blog too. Almost a year ago I wrote a blog post about plagarism and microblogging that no one really seemed to take seriously.  The point of it was that it wasn’t really clear what “plagarism” means when content is one sentence, or 12 seconds, long. If I retweet you but change one word, am I lying? If I copy and paste a tweet of yours and pass it off as my own, is that stealing? No one really knows. And frankly, no one really cared much. Until now.
 
There’s a bit of outrage about Tweet Nothings, a book where, essentially, the author scraped tweets and published them in a for-profit book. People aren’t happy about it, and are giving it reviews of “1” and writing nasty rebuttals. But this is sort of like complaining to the king after he’s chopped your head off - it doesn’t do much good. And it’s not even clear who’s right or wrong, on some level. And this is what I wrote about in my O’Reilly Radar post above.
 
Well, it gets bigger. It was recently announced that Twitter was going to give it’s entire archive of tweets - everything going back to 2006 - to the Library of Congress. For research. Now, there is a tremendous amount of research that can be done with this information. But I don’t remember Twitter polling its users about this. I don’t remember a discussion. I don’t remember getting asked how this might affect me. And now it’s all out there, from the first tweet on. Just so we’re clear, for a long time people had been asking for archives of their own tweets and couldn’t get them from a deaf-eared company, and now it turns out they have everything and the first thing they are going to do with it is give it to a third party so that yet other parties can data-mine it for their sociology Ph.D. dissertations. But if I write to the company and request a text file of all my tweets, I wonder what the answer would be?
 
You don’t own your tweets. They do. But this goes still further.
 
Let’s think about FourSquare, which is the “Twitter of 2010” that cannot be escaped, whether you use it or not. What if someone wanted to make a “mini-book” of the FourSquare habits of moderately famous people? I have a lot of moderately famous friends and acquaintances, what if I do four pages on each one, with photos of me with them, maps of where they go, what restaurants an hotels they like in New York and Las Vegas, and so forth. Maybe even predictions about places you might find them. Would that be okay? If it’s not, and those people didn’t like it, what are the ramifications?
 
Governments. They’re adopting all these tools. We went from a phase where everyone’s arm had to be twisted to take Twitter seriously to a phase where everyone is experimenting with it all over the place, sometimes with a reason and sometimes without one. One thing is for certain - they are providing gobs of free content to anyone who wants to suck it up, analyze it, graph it, mash it, publish it, and share it. When does the ethos of Web 2.0 come around to bite your agency in the ass? We will see an example of this - and probably multiple ones - before Obama’s first term ends.
 
You don’t own your tweets. What else don’t you really own? Probably stuff on your Facebook fan page. What if I went to Vin Diesel’s fan page (which is awesome, engaging, and incredibly popular) and took all the information, collated and edited it, and made an e-book called VIN: A Life Online, and took everyone’s pictures with him, their notes of admiration and so forth and compiled a book? Who would stop me? Would anyone even know? I mean, you had a private photo with Vin, but then you publicized it on Facebook, tagged it up, and uploaded and shared. What are the ramifications?
 
My colleague danah boyd of Microsoft Research recently wrote an article about “privacy” vs. “publicity” and I think everyone who cares about the above should read it. One big point from it is that just because someone makes something public does not necessarily mean that they want it publicized. But who’s really in control here? Is putting all my 35,000+ tweets in the Library of Congress forever publicizing my content. Kind of. What about publishing a book with (say) Merlin Mann’s funny tweets in it? Certainly it is. What about my Vin e-book? Yes.
 
So, let’s review. You don’t own your tweets. It’s not even clear who does. And it’s not clear that Twitter cares if you know or not. And this is not just about Twitter - it extends to the ENTIRE Web 2.0 ecosystem. Do you own your Diggs? Who does? What can they do with them? Don’t think for a second that you are in control. You are not. I could write a book today about what geeks dig. (Get it?) Who will stop me?
 
Use all these “free” social tools with caution, try to solve your business or non-profit or government or societal problems, but don’t mistake the usefulness of an emerging platform with the notion that they care what you’re doing with it. They have a different agenda, and it’s not necessarily helping their “customers.”

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