Category Archives: social bookmarking

Using social media for better journalism: @Sreenet at #ONADC

“I used to say “justify every pixel,” said Sree Sreenivasan. “Now I say earn every reader.”

Sreenivasan, a dean of student affairs and professor at the Columbia Journalism School, went beyond “what Jeff Jarvis calls the blog boy dance,” offering up more than an hour of cogent advice, perspective and tips on social media to a packed classroom populated by members of the DC Online News Association at Georgetown’s campus in Virginia.

Where once he used to go around newsrooms to talk about email, then Google and blogs, now he’s moved to new tools of digital journalism grounded in a reciprocal relationship between the audience and the reporter. After all, Sreenivasan had to tailor his talk to the audience, a collection of writers, editors and producers already steeped in the tools of digital journalism, moving quickly beyond listing Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to the tools and services that that enable journalists to use those social media platforms improve their reporting, editing and careers.

“The best people find the things that work for them and skip the rest,” said Sreenivasan. Services need to be useful, relevant and extend the journalist’s work. Quoting a student, now at the Wall Street Journal, Sreenivasan observed that you “can have greatest content in world but will die on the vine if we don’t have a way for our readers to find it.” He classified the utility of social media for journalists into four broad categories:

  • tracking trends on a given beat
  • connecting with the audience, where ever it is online
  • putting that audience to work, aka crowdsourcing
  • building and curating the journalists personal brand

“Tools should fit into workflow and life flow,” he said. “All journalists should be early testers and late adopters.” In that context, he shared three other social media tools he’s tried but does not use: Google Wave, Google Buzz and Foursquare. Sreenivaan also offered Second Life as as an example, quipped that “I have twins; I have no time for first life!”

The new Listener-in-Chief

One group that undoubtedly needs to keep up with new tools and platforms is the burgeoning class of social media editors. Sreenivasan watches the newly-minted “listeners-in-chief” closely, maintaining a list of social media editors on Twitter and analyzing how they’re using the social Web to advance the editorial mission of their mastheads.

He showed the ONA audience a tool new to many in the room, TagHive.com, that showed which tags were trending for a group. What’s trending for social media editors? This morning, it was “news, love, work, today, great, people, awesome and thanks.” A good-natured group, at least as evidenced by language.

Sreenivasan also answered a question I posed that is of great personal interest: Is it ethical to friend sources on social networking platforms?

The simple answer is yes, in his opinion, but with many a caveat and tweaks to privacy settings. Sreenivasan described the experiences of people in NGOs, activists and other sources whose work has been impaired by associations on social media. To protect yourself and sources, he recommended that Facebook users untag themselves, practicing “security by obscurity,” and use lists. As an example of what can go wrong, he pointed to WhatTheFacebook.com.

Where should journalists turn next for information? Follow @sreenet on Twitter and browse through the resources in his social media guide, which he referenced in the four videos I’ve embedded in this post. He’s a constant source of relevant news, great writing and good tips.

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Tech delegation explores Siberia, looks for connection through digital diplomacy [#RusTechDel]

Delegations from the State Department to Russia haven’t generally been accompanied by  great fanfare. In an information age where a growing social layer for the Internet provides unprecedented means for people to share their experiences online, the progress of the “innovation delegation” through Moscow and Siberia has been marked by a steady progression of tweets, online video and photos.

This is, after all,  a group of “geek luminaries” that has considerable reach online and into popular culture. Unsurprisingly, the member of the tech delegation that’s attracted both the attention of mainstream media in the US and fans abroad is Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher brought with him more than 4.5 million followers as Twitter’s most-followed user (@aplusk) and, perhaps even more crucially, an iPhone equipped with a video camera and a uStream account.

The delegation is led by Jared Cohen of the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning and Howard Solomon of the National Security Council. US Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra joined them in Moscow. They  are also traveling with:

“We’re trying to look at how Russia can utilize its population as a health resource, as an education resource, as an anti-corruption resource, as an anti-trafficking resource,” said Cohen, as quoted at Wired’s Epicenter blog.

According to Wired:

“the group hopes to emerge with clear deliverables. Women in remote areas could receive information — either online or using the SMS feature on their cellphones — on how to have healthy pregnancies. And in order to prevent Russian cellphone companies from being pressured into divulging the names and locations of those who report human-trafficking violations by SMS, the complaints could be cleaned and anonymized outside of the country, according to Cohen.

“The State Department is not bringing these people over as CEOs,” Cohen added. “John Donahoe is the CEO of eBay, but he’s also an expert on e-commerce and building platforms that move large sums of money in ways that aren’t corrupt, so he’s an expert on ‘e-anti-corruption.’”

The success of the mission hit at least one roadblock: Moscow traffic.

Despite tweeting about people, the ballet, the Kremlin, food and one another, the tech delegation was quiet about missing a meeting with Russia’s communications minister — and six Russian tech companies.

Other visits, at least viewed from through Kutcher’s livestream and Cohen’s able narration, have been more productive. Twitter gained another high profile user, after Jack helped Donahoe sign up on Twitter.


[http://www.flickr.com/photos/edyson/ / CC BY-NC 2.0]

Sometimes the best record of an event is in pictures of the delegation’s progress. Three of the pictures in this post  are from Esther Dyson’s Flickr photostream. While the tweets of delegation tell a tale, as do reactions from Russian students and the rest of the online audience, her pictures and captions is the most eloquent storytelling I’ve encountered to date.

Search engines and science

What’s the fastest growing search engine in the world? Apparently  Yandex.ru, as the delegates learned when they visited Yandex.ru headquarters. The Russian search engine has the fastest rate of growth in the world, according to Comscore. After we met on Twitter, Nick Wilsdon also shared statistics on Russia’s top social networksVKontakte.ru & Odnoklassniki.ru.

Students and social media

As with students elsewhere,  Russian students are using phones and social networking to exchange information. Warrior shared a picture of the students gathered at Novosibirsk on Twitter, tweeting about an “energizing chat w/ univ students, topics ranged from talent, innov., corruptin, beer pong.”

Given the return of state control of domestic television networks in Russia, the Internet’s role as a vital means of communication and global news has perhaps never been as acute.


What else will come of the “innovation delegation?”

Veterans of the Cold War might wonder why the U.S. or its entrepreneurs are offering advice or a forum to a former opponent. Even if the “missile gap” is a remnant of the past, Russian and U.S. relations haven’t been exactly sunny over the decades.

It may be that this delegation is a physical expression of the hopes that Hillary Clinton expressed in her speech on Internet freedom. And, in fact,  Jared Cohen tweeted the State Department’s  innovation delegation is  “an example of 21st century statecraft driven by Hillary Clinton.”

But putting concerns about aiding Russian industry aside, creating the conditions that make Silicon Valley or NYC fertile grounds for tech entrepreneurship won’t be easy. “We’re developing joint projects w/Russia on education, anti-trafficking, health, e-gov, anti-corruption using tech,” Cohen tweeted earlier today.

“Novosibirsk is Russia’s 4th largest city,” tweeted Cohen, “less than 100yrs old, Russia’s hub of innovation, & just northeast of India in middle of Siberia. [The] challenge in Siberia is not lack of innovation, but rather avenues for entrepreneurs to attract start-up capital.”

Giving young Russian entrepreneurs confidence about both patents and ownership of intellectual property would help, as would mentors. “I’ve been interested in Russia, working in computer science, engineering, mathematics for a long time,” said Dorsey in Novosibirsk. “Russia has been a major part of the story. I’ve found that there’s a real desire to create projects and an entrepreneurial spirit but not enough face to face discussion.”

Dorsey pointed out that the U.S. tech community regularly has meetups in Silicon Valley and New York City where the largest companies constantly invite people to come in. “When you have that supportive culture, it’s very easy to take risks,” he said. In Russia, Dorsey observed, “There’s not this desire, or a structure, or momentum, to get together and talk about what we want to create together. If you bring people who can fund this from the beginning, you start building angel networks, which are the basis for all innovation in the US these days.”

Desire, control of intellectual property and a tech community would be an incremental change on a larger continuum. As Fraser Cameron wrote in a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has called for a number of reforms, including a return to elections and freedom.

Cameron points out that Putin “failed to encourage investment in new industries, technologies or infrastructure.” In that context, will access to Western angel investors or social media matter?

Or, to reiterate the questions I asked to the delegation last night:

What uses of tech do Russians admire in the US? Where could new ICT help there now? How important is free, open speech to stimulating a culture of innovation? What about the use of open source tech? (Listen in for answers in Kutcher’s archived streams.)

Kutcher (above, in his own Twitpic) evidently has gained some perspective, at least on the impact of state involvement. “My perception of Russia and Russian technologists was always based on Russia’s ability and interest in scientific achievement,” he said. “The one thing I’ve found since we’ve been here, without Russian government controlling the room, is that it becomes a much more vibrant, expressive room. My perception of control levels and the reality were two different things.”

Donahoe, former head of Bain & Company, had different considerations. He said that while he saw potential to expand eBay into Russia, it would be on the condition: that law enforcement and the Russian government cooperate on anti-cybercrime.

Donahoe was impressed by a number of experiences, particularly in a new view of Siberia. “There’s a wealth of talent, real opportunity to build on a tech center,” he said. “I’m truck by the talent of Russian engineers. They should continue to play a leadership role in the World Wide Web, as they have continued to do with Google, Paypal and  Skype.”

On techno-utopianism and digital diplomacy


[Photo Credit: Jarod Liebman]

The ability of social media platforms to provide a platform for conversations was repeatedly shown in 2009, particularly in Iran’s elections. As Jack said to ABC News, “when you can see more of what’s happening you can really see more of the opposition is arguing about and take those arguments head on and have a conversation about them.”

The same communication tools can and have, however, been used in “digital dictatorships,” as Evgeny Morosov wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday. Rita J. King’s considered rebuttal in the “The Evolution of Revolution,” pointing out where digital diplomacy has had effect.

Cohen’s own involvement in the Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM) conferences would seem to extend from a similar belief in the potential for 21st Century statecraft.

Some of the most important interactions, after all, are likely to always be in person. As Jack tweeted, “having lunch together is so much more important to creating something than a business meeting -@edyson.”

The role of ICT



[Yuri Marin of Samizdal.ru, a self-publishing/printing site in Novosibirsk. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edyson/ / CC BY-NC 2.0]

As I listened to the discussions with Russian technologists about what could be done to improve innovation, particularly for civic gain, I thought of a long post that MIT Professor Andrew McAfee posted earlier this month on information and communication technologies (ICT).

As he wrote in “The Oxygen of Bandwidth, or How I Spent My Winter Vacation,” “researchers report that people in the developing world are willing to skip meals in order to buy more bandwidth.”

McAfee’s advice for helping the people of the developing world is simple: “Help them acquire technology that lets them help themselves, and that lets others help them. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: give them the ICT tools, and they will finish the job.”

Mitigating the dangers of journalism in Russia isn’t likely any time soon., but given Russia’s technological base, many of its engineers, students and scientists are equipped with the ability to create such tools already.

Whether this trip will create avenues for better communication, investment in startups or anti-corruption is an open question. It’s one of many that the delegates themselves will no doubt continue to answer in the days ahead.

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Voices from the #Gov20LA Unconference: On Innovation and #Gov20

Earlier this month, I stopped in Los Angeles to see what was happening at Goverment 2.0 LA, a hybrid of the unconference/camp and conference model organized by Alan W. Silberberg and Lovisa Williams. I’ve already shared some thoughts on what I learned about language of government 2.0, the history of disruptive innovation and the ways government adapts to technological change.

While I’m proud of those posts, one of the themes that emerged from the weekend was the importance of video for communication. I’m not at all on “video as the new text,” especially for countries with low Internet penetration or bandwidth, but there’s no denying that online video has extraordinary power in conveying messages. Just look at video of Iranian protesters on the streets of Tehran, reports from the earthquake in Haiti or the President of the United States on YouTube. Tune in to CitizenTube any minute of the day to witness that power in action.

Following are short videos from Gov2.0 LA organizers and attendees that share their takeways from the event.

Lovisa Williams

@lovisatalk talks about the goals of the Gov2.0 LA Camp.

Ben Berkowitz

@BenBerkowitz is the CEO of SeeClickFix.

Lewis Shepherd

@LewisShepherd discusses collaborative technology and government.

Wayne Burke

@wmburke talks about Govluv.org, on online platform for connecting to government representatives using Twitter.

Antonio Oftelie

@AntonioOftelie conducted a Government 2.0 Survey for Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Alan Webber

@AlanWebber talks about the international flavor of the Gov2.0 LA Camp.

Laurel Ruma

@LaurelRuma on her impressions from Day 1.

Lisa Borodkin

@LisaBorodkin on the language of Government 2.0.

Christina Gagnier

Christina @Gagnier on communicating about Government 2.0.

Justin Herman

@JustinHerman goes West Coast.

Adriel Hampton

@AdrielHampton on his impressions from Day 1.

Finally, here’s GovFresh.tv‘s video that features interviews with some of the people above and more:

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Google reacts to negative Buzz, improves privacy settings. Will it be enough?

As the Wall Street Journal reported today, Google’s development team has been working “feverishly” to tweak Buzz privacy settings. Earlier tonight, Google responded to widespread privacy concerns about Buzz, its new social messaging platform.

Todd Jackson, Buzz product manager, annouced on the Gmail blog that Google will make three updates to Buzz users’ startup experience to address the negative feedback it has received concerning its new social network. The previously announced Buzz improvements based upon user feedback simply did not go far enough to address legitimate privacy flaws or the uglier critiques in the blogosphere.

What has Google done?

  1. Google will add a tab specifically for Buzz in Gmail. While Google has not chosen to separate Buzz entirely from Gmail, as many readers thought might be the case after reading a story in SearchEngineLand.  Instead, as Danny Sullivan reports there, Google may offer Buzz independently from gmail in the future. This move addresses user experience, creating a clear means to configure the social messaging platform or disable it.

  2. Buzz will no longer automatically connect Google Reader or Picassa. Both of these environments could be limited to closed networks of friends or contacts.  When someone wrote “F*** You, Google,” its development team was apparently listening. According to the New York Times story on Buzz privacy settings, Google reached out to the aggrieved user and made changes to address some of her concerns.
  3. Crucially, Google Buzz will move from auto-follow to auto-suggest. Instead of simply connecting a new user to existing gmail contacts, Buzz will now present the user with suggested users from within that social network.

In other words, Google took Harry McCracken (and others) up on a simple solution to Buzz privacy problems: start with users following nobody by default.

Will it be enough to address the concerns of aggrieved users and convince bystanders to try Buzz? As Neil Gaiman tweeted, “Google DID work late. And DID fix it. I don’t think I’ll ever turn it on now, but good on them.” Or as Jay Rosen put it, “I waited, read the news about Google Buzz, absorbed the accounts and experiences of people I trust, and disabled it before ever opening it.”

Whatever the impact of tonight’s changes, Google has moved quickly to improve the areas of Buzz that have caused such angst online. As Gina Trapani, a self-described “Google fangirl” tweeted,  “no doubt Buzz’s privacy issues are seriously problematic, but at least they’re iterating quickly and openly.”

The question that remains is why none of these privacy concerns were clear at the outset. “Google addressed most concerns – good job,” tweeted Evgeny Morozov. “But strange they hadn’t expected the backlash. What were they really thinking?”

Morozov, whose trenchant analysis of the “wrong kind of buzz around Google Buzz,”  has been an prominent voice in highlighting the risks of using public social networks for citizens in countries where voicing dissent can carry a death penalty. As he wrote, “I am extremely concerned about hundreds of activists in authoritarian countries who would never want to reveal a list of their interlocutors to the outside world.”

This change may address that concern, though an “evil genie” may already be out of the bottle if intelligence services have already mined activists’ social networks. It’s not just citizens within authoritarian governments that had much to lose, after all. As danah boyd observed, “automated connections (a la Google Buzz) are particularly dangerous for at-risk populations.” Lawyers have other concerns: exposing clients through email addresses could violate confidentiality agreements.

Another tweak will help a bit with some of the above. As Jason Kincaid wrote at TechCrunch, “private e-mail addresses that were exposed in Buzz @replies are now covered up by asterisks.

That said, Google has now followed Facebook in making a major change to user privacy without testing it first or, crucially, allowing its users to opt out. Instead of making joining Buzz an option, Gmail users were added by default. And the only means users had to disable Buzz completely was akin to a nuclear option: deleting a Google profile.

I haven’t found the algorithmic authority or relevancy in Buzz that I’d expected yet. As Zach Seward tweeted, there’s “something to be said for Google Buzz: When @robinsloan hosts a fascinating discussion, you can link to it.”  Buzz support for open data standards may prove to be both disruptive and beneficial for the open Web. Now that I’ve taken steps to hide my contact, I plan to continue using Google Reader to share news to my Google Profile and Buzz to participate in discussions.

That said, this brush with privacy may have tainted the launch of Buzz in much the same way that the death of a luger in Vancouver put a pall over the beginning of the Winter Olympics. Google may have more information about online users that any entity on the planet. By exposing those relationships without offering users the opportunity to opt-out of the new service on launch, the Internet giant has put trust in privacy at risk, an existential worry given that data that Google has about so many.

As Stan Lee put it, “with great power, there must also come great responsibility.” The past week’s backlash has reminded millions of the stakes for such trust.

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Google Buzz: adding algorithmic authority and relevance to social media

A few minutes ago, Google Buzz went live at http://buzz.google.com. Google posted a video introducing the Buzz, which ties together Google contacts into a distributed social network accessed through a new tab in Gmail.

In a live webcast on YouTube, Bradley Horowitz (@elatable) explained what Google was after with Buzz: a way to add relevance to the information firehose represented by social messaging and activity. The Web application will act as a user interface to for social data.

Based upon the demo, it will be a snappy app for processing, sharing and annotating images, video and conversations. “Organizing the world’s social information has been a large problem, the kind @Google likes to solve,” said Buzz product manager Todd Jackson, explaining at least some of the why behind the application of algorithmic authority to social media. Jackson writes more in his introduction to Google Buzz at Google’s official blog.

Content shared on Buzz can be posted publicly to a Google Profile (like the one for, say, Alexander Howard) or sent privately within a network. At first glance, the user interface and contrls looks like a Friendfeed clone, with the additional of familiar keyboard shortcuts from gmail and Google Reader. And, notably, Google has adopted the “@reply” convention from the Twitter community as a means of initiating a conversation with contact.

To get a user started with a network, Buzz will autofollow people you’ve emailed. In other words, as Jeremiah Owyang predicted last summer, Google made email into a social network.

Buzz is also mobile.

The mobile Web application, which works on both iPhone and Android, includes geotagging and voice recognition, allowing the user to make spoken updates. While Google profiles will aggregate a user’s Buzz activity, “Places” will aggregate location-based reviews. (In other words, look out Yelp.) A “Nearby” button provides location-based context for Buzz users. Google also launched a new mobile verion of  Google Maps, adding a a social layer to its maps. The new “conversation bubbles” on Google Maps indicate geotagged Buzz updates and look like a lightweight, useful version of Twittervision.

Coming soon to the enterprise

Google Buzz will be launched as an enterprise product, says Horowitz. Buzz would likely serve as microblogging layer for Google Apps, providing helpful filtering for the noise of the social Web, unlike Wave, which added it. “A lot of the functionality is inspired by Wave,” said Horowitz, a likely nod to a decision to adopt the best features of the often maligned social messaging platform.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin was on hand to share his personal experience with Buzz, offering a preview of how it might be pitched to other business executives or CIOs. “I found a huge amount of productivity from using Google Buzz internally,” said Brin. “I posted [an] OpEd to Buzz. I looked at the broad categories and did a general edit based on that feedback. It was far more efficient.”

Open APIs?

Public feeds are supported as an XML feed and are fully supported by PubSubHub as of today, said another Google exec. By going open API and openly courting developers to join them on Google Code, Google may be after the same fertile ecosystem that surround Twitter.

What does Google Buzz mean?

All of the above gives an idea of what Google’s newest Web application can do and how it might work. Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang has already posted a quick take on what Google Buzz will mean. Key insights:

  • At the high level, this is a strong move for Google, they continue to aggregate other people’s social content, and become the intermediatry. This helps them to suck in Twitter, Flickr, and any-other-data type as the APIs open up, giving them more to ‘organize’. This is Google acting on its mission to the world.
  • For consumers, the risk of privacy will continue to be at top of mind. Although the features allow for sharing only with friends or in public. expect more consumer groups to express concern. Overtime, this will become moot as the next generation of consumers continues to share in public.
  • For consumers, this could potentially have more adoption than Twitter as Gmail has a large footprint Google told me it’s tens of millions (active monthly unique). Of course, most Gmail users likely aren’t Twitter users, but there could be a large platform to draw from.
  • For Facebook, this is a direct threat, these features emulate Friendfeed and the recently designed Facebook newsfeed. Expect Google to incorporporate Facebook connect, commoditizing Facebook data as it gets sucked into Google and displayed on Google SERP.
  • For small busineses and retailers, this will impact their search engine results pages, as a single top ‘buzzer’ could cause their content to be very relevant, if that person was relevant, then their influential content could show at top of SERP pages. Expect Google to continue to offer advertising options now around buzz content –fueling their revenues.
  • Strong, near real-time analysis from Owyang. One area he didn’t dwell as much on is the utility to both businesses and many users of the social Web who want relevance for work or for specific topics, without the noise that often obscures both on Twitter, Facebook or other social networks. Power users have had to evolve many strategies to filter signal from the noise, including shadow accounts, lists, keyword searches or alerts. Google Buzz has the potential to allow over 150 million gmail users to quickly filter the most useful content from the social Web and then selectively share it with either friends, colleagues or the open Web. That action, often termed “curation” in the digital journalism space, is singularly useful.

    If Buzz easily enables that activity for mobile users, it will have the potential to massively disrupt the nascent mobile social networking space that currently includes Yelp, Gowalla, Brightkite, Loopt and Foursquare. If users turn to Buzz for reviews, to find who is nearby or what’s being discussed in the neighborhood, Google will also have made Google Maps much stickier, which could in turn make it a more useful platform for contextual mobile advertising. Given the potential for targeted ads based on location to be more useful, that might in turn be of great utility to both users and the search engine giant, though electronic privacy advocates are likely to look at the move with concern.

    Will people use Buzz? That’s the multi-million dollar question. Facebook and Twitter own the social Web, as it stands. If Buzz offers a UI that adds relevance, it has a shot. If users find utility in the way that Buzz helps them filter social media from other platform, it could stack up well against Brizzly, Seesmic or similar “social dashboards.”

    I’ll keep an eye out for the function to go live in my inbox in the meantime and read TechMeme for other reactions.

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    On Language: Government 2.0, jargon and technology [#gov20LA]

    [Image credit: Wikinomics

    Does the public need to know what Government 2.0 is?

    One might ask Tim O’Reilly, who has written eloquently about the topic and emceed the Gov2.0 Summit last year. One might also ask Mark Drapeau, who asked the question above earlier tonight on his blog, or Laurel Ruma, his co-chair at the Gov2.0 Expo last year, which showcased software and online platforms that used government data in innovative ways.

    Or one might ask the nation’s technology executives, like US CIO Vivek Kundra or CTO Aneesh Chopra, both of whom participated in the Summit in Washington last summer. The attendees of the summit were asked by the organizers to define the term themselves in an online contest, offering up a multitude of interpretations of the nebulous term. Unfortunately, tonight I didn’t seek comment, turning instead to Wikipedia for the crowd’s opinion. As of tonight’s version, Wikipedia’s entry for “Government 2.0” defines it as:

    “a neologism for attempts to apply the social networking and integration advantages of Web 2.0 to the practice of governmentWilliam (Bill) Eggers claims to have coined the term in his 2005 book, Government 2.0: Using Technology to Improve Education, Cut Red Tape, Reduce Gridlock, and Enhance Democracy.[1] Government 2.0 is an attempt to provide more effective processes for government service delivery to individuals and businesses. Integration of tools such as wikis, development of government-specific social networking sites and the use of blogs, RSS feeds and Google Maps are all helping governments provide information to people in a manner that is more immediately useful to the people concerned.[2]

    Well and good. The line I find most compelling in the above explanation for the term is the “attempt to provide more effective processes for government service delivery to individuals and businesses.” If I had to explain the idea to my technophobic friends, that’s the tack I’d take. O’Reilly defined government 2.0 as a platform, which I also find to be a useful metaphor, if one that demands the explanation that O’Reilly himself provided at TechCrunch.

    Getting technical with government

    For those more technically inclined, it might be useful to talk about open data, mashups, Data.gov, the Open Government directive, XML, XBRL, virtualization, cloud computing, social media and a host of other terms that have meaning in context but without prior knowledge do little to inform the public about what, precisely, the “2.0″ means. Most people have some sense of what “government” is, though there’s no shortage of opinion about how it should be constituted, run, regulated, managed or funded. Those discussions go back to the earliest days of humanity, well before organizing principles or rules emerged from Hammurabi or were enshrined on the Magna Carta or constitutions.

    In all of that time, the body politic and its regulatory and enforcement arms have been equipped with increasingly sophisticated tools. In 2010, agencies and public servants have unprecedented abilities because of the rapid growth of online tools to both engage and inform both their constituencies, relevant markets and others within government. The question that confronts both citizens and public servants around the globe is how to turn all of that innovation to useful change. Savvy political campaigns have already found ways to leverage the Internet as a platform for both organizing and fundraising. Few observers failed to see the way that the Obama campaign leveraged email, text messaging, online donations and social networking in 2008.

    One area that will be of intense interest to political observers in 2010 will be whether that same online savvy can be harnessed in the Congressional mid-terms. Micah Sifry wrote about an “Obama Disconnect” at length; I leave it to him to explore that question. What I find compelling is whether any of these technologies can be turned to making better policy or delivering improved services. In theory, good data can be aggregated to create information, which can then in turn be used to form knowledge. Whether the Open Government Directive dashboard at White House.gov reveals information or simply adherence to defined policy is on open question.

    Where Web 2.0 matters to Government 2.0

    Does the public need to know what Government 2.0 is, exactly? One might wonder if the public needed to know about what “Web 2.0″ was? Judging by search traffic and years of Web 2.0 Conferences, my perception has been that there’s interest, if only to know what the next version of the World Wide Web might be, exactly. After all, the Web that Tim Berners-Lee’s fecund mind brought into being has been one of the most extraordinary innovations in humanity’s short history: what could be better? The short answer has often reflected the definition of Government 2.0 above: a combination of technologies that allows people to more easily publish information online, often with a social software or computing component that enables community between their online identities.

    In 2010, the dominant platforms that represent Web 2.0 are well known: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, Delicious, Digg, Ning, StumbleUpon and a host of new mobile communities or platforms. In each case, the company is often defined by what it allows users to do: upload pictures or video, stay connected to friends, track and discover news, save bookmarks or create communities that do all of those things.

    When it comes to government 2.0, I believe that’s precisely how any service be defined: by its utility to helping citizens or agencies solve problems, either for individuals or the commons. The 2.0 term provides an umbrellas term for the movement and the technologies.

    Why explaining Government 2.0 matters

    As a thought experiment, I asked five people in the lobby where I write if they knew what “government 2.0″ was. I asked the same question of “Web 2.0.” In every circumstance, no one could explain the term.

    And, in every circumstance, people knew what Facebook, Twitter or YouTube was, including the use of those technologies by government officials.

    That’s one reason why Bill Grundfest’s talk at a “Government 2.0 Camp in Los Angeles was a useful balance this past weekend, not least because as the creator of  “Mad About You” he’s part of the cultural and business fabric of Hollywood.

    Grundfest sat through the morning’s sessions and took copious notes in a way that was novel, at least to this author, capturing the themes, memes and jargon shared in the talks on coffee cups.

    Christina Gagnier, an IP attorney located in LA, wrote about Grundfest’s approach at the Huffington Post in “Gov 2.0: A message from Hollywood to the Beltway.”

    As she captured there, the focus of Grundfest’s frequently entertaining talk was grounded in the entertainment business: communicate clearly, humanize what’s being offered and move away from jargon.

    That message was delivered, by and large, to a room that knew and used the jargon. For that audience, getting advice from a true outsider held utility in both its clarity and lack of pretension. Grundfest may not have developed or managed government programs to deliver services but he has certainly learned how to tell stories.

    Storytelling, as journalists and teachers know well, is one of the most powerful ways to share information. It’s an art form and human experience that goes back to our earliest days, as hunters and gatherers huddled around fires to share knowledge about the world, passing on the wisdom of generations.

    The activity is scarcely limited to our species, as anyone who’s watched a honey bee shimmy and shake to pass on the details of a pollen gathering trip knows, but humanity’s language skills do tend to advance our ability to convey knowledge, along with the technologies we have at our disposal.

    Grundfest recommended the use of video, testimonials and other narrative forms to provide an entrance point into the what, how, where and, especially, why of new government technologies or platforms for engagement.

    Couched in humor, his audience responded with interest to the simplicity of the message. Embedded below is a video on the Gov2.o LA unconference from Govfresh that reflects that recommendation. (For others, visit YouTube.com/digiphile) By and large, I believe Grundfest’s message was delivered to a crowd of “goverati” for whom the message was valuable.

    Instead of dwelling any further on what Government 2.0 might be or couching discussion or branding in jargon, explain what the technology or platform will do — and what problem it will solve. And at the end of the day, remember that on language, usage drives meaning.

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    Trends and challenges for social media in 2010

    What will the rest of 2010 hold for social media? I’m certain will see collaborative technologies be used to cover events and disasters on the real-time Web.

    I’m also certain that three issues will dominate the space over the next year:

    Identity, Privacy and Security.

    Below is an interview where I talk about precisely these issues from Twtrcon:

    As you’d imagine, there is no shortage of other opinion on what else the year will hold in social media. For other takes, try:

    I left the following comment on Chris’ post:

    I suspect the Fortune 500 will go looking for talent to bring in-house, if early adopters aren’t available internally. There’s still a high ceiling — and need — for decent corporate blogs, authentic social media managers and innovative internal implementations of social computing platforms.

    Aside from personnel, it’s fun to think about the bigger picture, too. Government is increasingly a big player in this space, as is Google. Social is going to be more mainstream and have more money flow into it than ever before, if marketing investment projections line up.

    Here’s hoping that the snake oil is wrung out in the process. I suspect another casualty may be the word “social” itself, as I commented at length on Andy McAfee’s blog. Collaboration and results are in, hype and hysteria are out.
    Protecting identity, security and trust will plague adoption of all of these platforms, whether they’re in the public or private space. If we’re giving away our data, social graphs, interactions and transactions, we’ll expect to retain our identities, credentials and privacy. Companies that abuse that relationship will experience viral backlash that beggars the ire we’ve seen to date.

    What do you think? What are the trends in collaboration technology that will matter this year?

    Please let me know in the comments or reply to @digiphile on Twitter.  I’ll be speaking tomorrow at the inaugural Social Media Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on this very topic.

    Update: Here’s the presentation on Social Media Trends for 2010 from Prezi.com.

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    Twitter Lists: We are informed by those we follow. We are defined by those who follow us.

    “The power of Twitter is in the people you follow.”-@nytimes

    You’ll find that quote at NYTimes.com/Twitter, where the New York Times has built a page of Twitter lists curated by its editors, its writers and, presumably, the help of its considerable audience.

    As this feature has rolled out, I’ve read knee jerk criticism, thoughtful analysis, wild evangelizing and observed “lists of lists” be collected as sites like Listorious and Listatlas.com spring up to rank them.

    Tech pundits and, rapidly, news organizations have all created lists that offer apply new taxonomies, imposed human-defined categories onto the roiling real-time tweetstream.

    Readers are defined and informed by the diversity of the information sources that they consume. In a user-created Web, we are defined by those who choose to follow us, including any lists or tags that they associate with  our names.

    It’s been exciting to watch. And if you’re a reader of David Weinberger, author of “Everything is Miscellaneous,” you might recognize this emergent behavior as a familiar phenomenon. Twitter users are using lists to organize one another into understandable taxonomies. Folksonomies, to use the term coined by Thomas Vander Wal.

    Users have some control over which Twitter lists they appear upon. If you block a user, for instance, you can remove yourself from that user’s lists, if for some reason you don’t want to appear on it.

    What we can’t control, once we make ourselves public there or elsewhere on the Web, is how others tag or list us.

    This goes back to what Weinberger (along with Doc Searls, Rick Levine and Christopher Locke) wrote about in “The Cluetrain Manifesto” ten years ago. “Markets are conversations.”

    I suspect that in the weeks ahead, both companies and individuals may find themselves on lists that they perhaps would not wish to define as part of their brand identities.

    “I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member”

    As I quote Groucho Marx, today, I feel fortunate, for two different reasons.

    First, to date, I’ve been included on 176 lists, none of which I’m embarrassed or insulted to be on. You can see all of them at “memberships,” which is a friendly way of describing inclusion.

    Thank you. I’m humbled.

    Second, most of the lists are being used by an individual user to categorize others for providing particular sort of information.

    Overall, I’m most closely associated with technology, journalism, security and media. That’s  a good sign, given my profession! I was glad to see that the account I maintain at work (@ITcompliance) has been added to 33 lists, primarily compliance, information security, cybersecurity and GRC.

    I’m talking about the right things in the right places.

    Certain lists, however, have meant that many more people reading me than would have otherwise because of the hundreds or thousands of people that have chosen to follow them, due to the influence of their creators.  I’m thinking about lists like these, some of which have gone on to become popular at Listorious.com.

    @palafo/linkers

    @palafo/newmedia

    @kitson/thought-leaders

    @jayrosen_nyu/best-mindcasters-i-know

    @Scobleizer/tech-pundits

    @Scobleizer/my-favstar-fm-list

    Thank you, fellas.

    Like any other tools, lists will no doubt be used for good and ill. An outstanding article by Megan Farber, “Fort Hood: A First Test for Twitter Lists” in the Columbia Journalism Review, shows how news organizations can leverage the feature to curate the real-time Web for the online audience.

    The lists—which offer a running stream of information, updates, and commentary from the aggregated feeds—represent a vast improvement over the previous means of following breaking news in real time. In place of free-for-all Twitter hashtags—which, valuable as they are in creating an unfiltered channel for communication, are often cluttered with ephemera, re-tweets, and other noise—they give us editorial order. And in place of dubious sources—users who may or may not be who they say they are, and who may or may not be worthy of our trust—the lists instead return to one of the foundational aspects of traditional newsgathering: reliable sources. Lists locate authority in a Twitter feed’s identity—in, as it were, its brand: while authority in hashtagged coverage derives, largely but not entirely, from the twin factors of volume and noise—who tweets the most, who tweets the loudest—authority in list-ed coverage derives from a tweeter’s prior record. Making lists trustworthy in a way that hashtagged coverage simply is not.

    Farber goes further in exploring what role lists may play in journalism’s future, as organizations collaborate with both their audience and one another in curating user-generated content. It’s a great piece. Pete Cashmore, of @mashable, has written more about this at CNN in “Twitter lists and real-time journalism.”

    Individuals and news organizations alike can create lists as needed. For instance, as the House debates a historic health care bill here in Washington, you can follow the discussion at @Mlsif/healthdebatelive

    As Cashmore points out, in the social, “people-centric Web,” we use our friends as a filter. As Paul Gillin observed,  everything that you’ve learned about SEO may be useless in a more social Web. Google’s new Social Search shows how, if we choose, our search results can be populated with content from our circle of friends.

    On Twitter, we can now use the lists from trusted friends and news organizations to curate the real-time Web. That makes them useful, immediately.

    And after a week full of public grief here in the U.S., that’s good news.

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    At the NPR and PBS unconference, 2009 is the year of “We, the media”

    John Boland at Pubcamp

    John Boland at Pubcamp

    “TV, radio and pro journalism still matter in this new ecosystem”-John Boland, PBS.

    This past weekend, I attended Public Media Camp, an unconference at American University in Washington, D.C.

    I came away from the two days of sessions, talks, informal discussions, random encounters and rapid-fire information exchange inspired, exhilarated and a bit exhausted. That last is why it took a day to get a post up. By its nature, I couldn’t go to everything. What I did attend, I tried to take notes upon and livestream to Livestream.com and uStream. When it comes to the archiving that video, unfortunately, I endured two crashes and suffered from the lack of a decent mic. Happily, much better video will be coming online from other sources over the next week. What follows are my thoughts, links and video from “Pubcamp.”

    Citizen Journalism and public media

    The first session of the day remains one of the most memorable. Citizen journalists and local bloggers have much to learn from – and about – one another. “We the media” is a theme I pick up later in this post. Suffice it to say that democratization of the tools for information sharing has taken some producers unaware and left many stations understaffed, at least at the level it takes to effectively engage with those in the community creating the content. That said, many NPR editors and writers are doing quietly effective work in finding, engaging and collaborating with bloggers in the community. I mentioned Universal Hub in Boston, although I’ll leave it to Adam Gaffin, Radio Boston and WBUR to relate exactly how well that relationship works.

    @jessieX referenced the tensions in this session in her post on generational differences, “My Takeaway,” where she captures the insight she shared with me in person.

    Video of the  citizen journalism session is available on-demand.

    Tools for curation of audience-generated content

    This was one of the best attended sessions of Public Media Camp and, due to any number of reasons, one of the best, at least in my view. The standing room-only group was organized into as a circle and shared dozens of useful tools and services that can aid stations and editors in aggregating, organizing, filtering and curating pictures, video and text generated from listeners.”We all want to open up the floodgates to UGC and crowdsourcing but there’s issues of trust,” said Andrew Kuklewicz.

    My favorite metaphor from Public Media came from Andy Carvin here, in the idea of “trust clouds,” or the social network of people around us that represent who we can believe, retweet, link or otherwise invest with our own reputation. A tool for doing just that if at Trustmap.org. Newstrust.net also came up as “a guide to good journalism.”

    Such tools and relationships are critical to both the use of user generated content by stations and the decision of readers and listeners to trust and, in the social media world, pass on information. As I commented during the session, increasingly consumers of media follow bylines, not masthead. To borrow David Weinberger’s phrase, “transparency is the new objectivity.” By showing readers how and where the audience was sourced in real-time, media organizations can make a stronger case for the veracity of such information.

    Tools included:

    Greg Linch shared the approach to curation that Publish2 takes: “Social Journalism: Curate the Real-Time Web.”

    Social Media Success

    The most obvious case study in social media success may be Andy Carvin himself. The impact of his efforts have been deep and far-reaching throughout NPR’s shows and staffers. As Amy Woo put it, “I feel the same way about Andy and his tweeting as I do about Diane Rehm.”

    Carvin offered compelling examples of success, like an NPR partnership with content discovery service Stumbleupon to create a reciprocal connection w/Twitter. With a little tweaking, a retweet can equal a stumble.

    Another site, criticalexposure.org, “teaches kids to take pics as a way to be advocates for social change,” said Carvin.

    He also said that NPR’s Facebook fan page generates some 8% of NPR web traffic. Their testing shows 1 post every 60-90 minutes is ideal for audience. That connection came courtesy of a listener, at least at the outset: The NPR fan page on Facebook was created by a fan. That fan then gave it back to the organization, says Jon Foreman. Carvin’s curation of public radio content took it to the next level.

    Hurricanewiki is likely to be cited as a classic case in social media success, where more than five hundred people came together, organized through Twitter by @acarvin. You can see the results  at Hurricanewiki.org. Carvin also created a hurricane resources community for Gustav on Ning, built in about 48 hours.

    One example that came up in multiple sessions is NPR’s Vote Report . Jessica Clark and Nina Keim wrote a report on it: “Building #SocialMedia Infrastructure to Engage Publics.” And while Carvin pointed out where Vote Report fell short, the idea behind enabling listeners to “help NPR identify voting problems” holds some promise. The use of social media for election monitoring is spreading globally now, as can be seen in Votereport.in in India.

    The was a different issue with InaugurationReport:- volume. Carvin said that there was simply “too much social media content to effectively curate.” By way of contrast, even a few hundred engaged listeners could effectively use the #factcheck hashtag by http://npr.org/blogs/politics to fact check the U.S. presidential debates in real-time.

    Greg Linch shared a collection of social media guidelines curated at Publish2, including NPR’s social media guidelines. There’s a careful eye keeping watch here on the ethics that go with the new territory: the @NPR ombudsman was present (she’s @ombudsman on Twitter) and brought attention to how the public will relate to any perceived bias shown on social media platform.

    A standard for conduct matters. It’s not all peaches and cream, after all, given the ugliness that online discourse descend into on many occasions. “Posting on our site is a privilege, not a right,” said Carvin regarding the scrum on comment trolls, online spammers & NPR sites.

    Video of the social media success session is available online at uStream.com.

    Public Media and Gaming

    One of the more entertaining and creative sessions at Public Media Camp was the hour on gaming. Educational gaming can raise literacy rates in children, after all – could NPR deliver further by reaching into this interactive medium? Nina Wall (@missmodular) said, in fact, that PBS Kids will soon have available an API similar to NPR’s for educational games.

    An excellent summary of this discussion can be found at AmericanObserver.net. Video of the public media and gaming session is available online at uStream.com.

    PictureTheImpossible is one intriguing example of the genre. The online, community-based game jointly developed by RIT & the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

    The discussion also included  Kongregate and their “social gaming” model, which provides a platform & revenue share for developers. Could NPR follow suit?

    Or what if NPR created a fantasy league for news? Points could be accrued for newsgathering, with players trading shows or writers.

    It’s been done for politics – check out the case study of an @NPR fantasy league, from Julia Schrenkler: Minnesota Public Radio’s “fantasy legislature.”

    My favorite suggestion, however, came from Andy Carvin: a social “Wait, Wait, don’t tell me!” game where the audience can create news quizzes and then challenge one another on Facebook or the Web.

    Social Media FAIL

    The first FAIL from Andy Carvin? When the hype around crowdsourcing with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk didn’t deliver. Here’s the Wired story on questions about crowdsourcing.

    Video of the social media FAIL session is available on-demand. Amy Woo and other attendees offered many more examples of failures.

    Apps for Public Media

    The last session of Pubcamp kicked off with a description of @AppsForDemocracy by Peter Corbett. Interesting examples about:

    ParkItDC helps people find parking in DC, including which meters are broken.

    AreYouSafeDC shows potential threats.

    StumbleSafely is a guide to bars & avoiding crime in DC.

    FixMyCityDC is a web-based application that allows users to submit service requests by problem type.

    And the winner, DC311, enables iPhone access (download from iTunes) to the District’s 311 city service site, coupled with a  Facebook App.

    There’s more to come: In 2 years, the vision laid out by Corbett  includes “muni data standardization, open civic app ecology and the ‘real-time muni web.’ And in 5 years, the vision for includes ideas seemingly lifted out of science fiction: augmented civic reality, AI-driven civic optimization & “virtual flow working.”

    What could be created for public media? Apps that enable listeners to create channels from the API for specific topics. Apps that combine real-time data feeds from government sources with local bloggers and radio stations. Apps that allow listeners to help filter the flood of information around events, like the Vote Report project.

    Why develop such apps? Andy Carvin believes that  “the line between content, services & apps is blurring. To create a more informed public, it now takes more.” To not create such innovation would, in effect, be irresponsible.

    More posts, eclectica and public media resources

    The PBS News Hour has partnered with the Christian Science Monitor on “Patchwork Nation.”

    The work of Doc Searls at the Berkman Center on “vendor relationship management” came up, mentioned by one Keith Hopper. More details at http://projectvrm.org.

    FrontlineSMS.com is a free group text messaging tool for nonprofit that is useful in disaster and crisis response.

    Swiftapp.org was shared by @kookster: free, #opensource toolset for crowdsourced situational awareness.

    Plenty of social media application develop is going on at PBS. Their social media guru, Jonathan Coffman,  pointed to the tools at PBS.org/engage.

    The Participatory Culture Foundation has launched Videowtf.com.

    Economystory.org is a cooperative effort of public media producers to provide financial literacy.

    Check out Radio Drupal and Radioengage.com for open source public netcasting information.

    Session notes for @PublicMediaCamp are going up at the wiki at PublicMediaCamp.org and are being aggregated under #pubcamp on Delicious.com by Peter Corbett.

    My Takeaways

    There a lot of smart, savvy, funny geeks in public media, passionate about delivering on the core mission of education, media literacy and good  journalism.

    This same cadre is pushing innovative boundaries, whether it’s engaging the audience, creating new technology platform or expanding the horizons of computer assisted reporting. Database journalism is alive and well at NPR – just look at this visualization of the U.S. power grid.

    Vivian Schiller said during her keynote that “2009 was the year everything changed.” Out of context, that statement drew raised eyebrows online. In person, there was more clarity. The massive disruption to the newspaper and traditional media industry is now resulting in significant layoffs and a seachange in how people experience events, share information and learn about the issues. Despite the issues presented by ingesting a torrent of new sources of information, the concept of “We the media” has deep roots, given that so many more people now have the ability to contribute news and help analyze it now that the tools for communication have been democratized and often made freely available online.

    What’s missing in that fluid mix of updates, streams and comments is trust in veracity. As we all move into the next decade of the new millennium, the central challenge of public media may be making sense of the noise, taking much the same approach that it has in the past century: report on what’s happening, where it happened, who did it and why it’s important, with a bit more assistance from the audience. Given the loyalty of tens of millions of listeners, “we the media” might just have some legs.

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    digiphile: Next up from @acarvin’s presentation of #socialmedia successes: @VoteReport: “Help NPR Identify Voting Problems” http://j.mp/1fysxf #pubcamp

    digiphile: Next up from @acarvin’s presentation of #socialmedia successes: @VoteReport: “Help NPR Identify Voting Problems” http://j.mp/1fysxf #pubcamp
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    Does RT = spam? Unlikely. A retweet is social media currency.

    Two small cans of Spam. One is closed and the ...
    Image via Wikipedia

    I’m still working through my notes and interviews from the past week’s Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston. Many people, ideas and presentations will stay with me –  I look forward to writing another article and several blog posts today and tomorrow — but I wanted to make sure I captured one particular moment that actually irked me: The statement by a member of a panel in a session on Twitter that a RT is spam.

    Apparently, @IsaacGarcia is determined to hold onto that position in the face of substantial counter opinion. I’m left to speculate how much he has used or read about Twitter; I gather from his comments on the panel that he has used the medium to find customers for his company and sell the product. The irony of that use is that by searching for mentions of his brand or looking for potential prospects and replying to them, he is in fact engaging in unsolicited commercial messaging.

    I believe there’s a word for that.

    Humor aside, I did reflect for a while on Garcia’s contention, which he tweeted during the panel: “How is recvng RTs about a topic/person that I didn’t choose to Follow not spam? Am recvng unsolicited info from the originator.” Isaac isn’t an obtuse man; Central Desktop was used by the Obama campaign to manage field operations in Texas.n, as Josh Catone blogged in ReadWriteWeb.

    So where’s the disconnect? I wrote about the retweet last November for WhatIs.com, in “Buzzword Alert: The retweet (RT) is the FWD of 2008.” To retweet is to repost the tweet of another Twitter user using your own account.

    It would probably be helpful to review what spam IS again, other than a fatty breakfast meat that’s likely to survive a nuclear winter. Wikipedia (currently) calls “Spam the abuse of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages.” CNET reported that, in 2009, spam makes up 90% of all email. If anything, that’s actually down from the 95% estimate I read a few years ago. That may be a result of shutting down ISPs that allow sending spam; it’s not likely, at least in this pundit’s eyes, to be a result of the CANN-SPAM Act, which created standards for sending commercial email. To be compliant, you must have a way for users to unsubscribe and do so if asked.

    Twitter, of course, makes subscribing and unsubscribing from efforts rather easy — follow or unfollow. There are many technical hiccups that sometimes hinder that process, but by and large that’s the way it works. I choose to subscribe to your tweets. If don’t like something about the experience, I stop listening.

    Fortunately, I’ve been gifted by thousands of smart, savvy followers, and when I asked them all if a RT is spam, I received 11 immediate @replies, followed by a few more. I’ll share their thoughts, as I believe they speak eloquently in defense of the role of the retweet.

    First, my friend and colleague on the Touchbase blog, Leslie Poston, offered her perspective:

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    geechee_girl: some RT = spam, blogged em on Uptown Uncorked last week

    Leslie clearly has had it with some of the hijinks that have been going on Twitter, including a basic lack of netiquette and yes, some genuine spam. In “Retweeting Etiquette, RT Spam, RT Flash Mobs, RT Linkbait,” Leslie points out many of the issues around the convention that have sprung up as Twitter has exploded in popularity and the usual shady netizens have moved in. The post is worth reading, but, in the frame of my question, her concern is around retweeting spam, not that RT itself constitutes it.

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    sleddd: RT not really spam, more sharing information. Like a phone tree or saying hey check this out to the people who do follow you. RTs, DMs, replies, as well as general tweets are what help make social media social.

    Stales3_normal
    stales: RT=spam? No, not at all. When you “follow”, you’re giving that tweeter the right to pass on ANY info.. regardless of source

    New-chris-headshot-forweb_normal
    chrisbechtel: a Retweet is not spam – it is a share of something the sharer deems potentially valuable to their community.

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    pmhesse: a RT is about sharing information with your friends that you found valuable, informative, or entertaining.

    Ericandersen_normal
    eric_andersen: I couldn’t possibly follow all of the original sources of info/links I’m interested in; rely on others to RT. IMHO sharing info via retweets is part of the “lifeblood” of Twitter; without sharing much appeal of the medium is lost.

    Faseidl-260x260_normal

    faseidl: It *may* be spam, but in general I would say false. See my comment on that question on this post: http://bit.ly/Wg7lp

    Face1-el-fixed-488x655_iran_normal
    craighuff: some of us find RTed information valuable and welcome it.

    686124135_cf3e686522_normal
    saccades: RT can “reflect the” light of a bright idea

    Eric_turquoisefish_normal
    turquoisefish
    : a RT from me is something I liked, found interesting, or wanted 2 share.

    Here’s my version: A retweet is social media currency. It’s a validation of the tweet you are passing on and a stamp that you have not changed it. I use PRT, for partial retweet, if I have to edit for length.

    I use via or HT for “hat tip” if I pass along  someone’s link but write my own text, which provides proper attribution. The HT has been a convention of blogging for over a decade; there’s no sense in changing the netiquette simply because the blog is smaller. If Ben Parr is correct in his assessment of the trend, we’ll soon be seeing RS on Facebook, as people reshare information in that real-time environment.
    In many ways, reshare is a much better word, as it captures the essence of the action: passing along information that we thought was worthwhile, funny, useful or otherwise worth seeing. It’s precisely the sort of action, in other words, that makes someone want to follow another person on Twitter or not.

    As any longtime of Twitter knows, there is in fact plenty of spam on Twitter. There’s even a @spam account to report it to. #hashtags spam has become a problem, given that whenever a topic becomes trending on Twitter, spammer hop on and advertise whatever the scheme of the day might be. Nastier folk lurk there too, twishing for unsuspecting users.

    Even reputable companies have engaged in it, as Mashable noted yesterday, when Habitat Used Iran Twitter Spam to Pimp Furniture.‎

    (Habitat has since apologised for its Twitter ‘hashtag spam.’)

    Patrick LaForge, a long-time user of Twitter and director of the copy desks for the New York Times, had the last word in my @reply stream. I tend to take his view as definitive on the subject. (The emphasis below is mine.)

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    palafo: If you don’t like my tweets, don’t follow. Only spam is follow-spam and reply-spam. “RT” is ugly/confusing but quick.

    In other words, it’s not that there isn’t spam on Twitter — it’s just not the RT.
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