Berkman Center maps networked public sphere’s role in SOPA/PIPA debate

berkman-sopa-paper
A new paper from Yochai Benkler and co-authors at the Berkman Center maps how the networked public sphere led to the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act being defeated in the U.S. Congress.

“Abstract: “This paper uses a new set of online research tools to develop a detailed study of the public debate over proposed legislation in the United States designed to give prosecutors and copyright holders new tools to pursue suspected online copyright violations.”

Key insight: “We find that the fourth estate function was fulfilled by a network of small-scale commercial tech media, standing non-media NGOs, and individuals, whose work was then amplified by traditional media. Mobilization was effective, and involved substantial experimentation and rapid development. We observe the rise to public awareness of an agenda originating in the networked public sphere and its framing in the teeth of substantial sums of money spent to shape the mass media narrative in favor of the legislation. Moreover, we witness what we call an attention backbone, in which more trafficked sites amplify less-visible individual voices on specific subjects. Some aspects of the events suggest that they may be particularly susceptible to these kinds of democratic features, and may not be generalizable. Nonetheless, the data suggest that, at least in this case, the networked public sphere enabled a dynamic public discourse that involved both individual and organizational participants and offered substantive discussion of complex issues contributing to affirmative political action.”

One data set, however, was missing from the paper: the role of social media, in particular Twitter, in reporting, amplifying and discussing the bills. The microblogging platform connected many information nodes mapped out by Berkman, from hearings to activism, and notably did not shut down when much of the Internet “blacked out” in protest.

The paper extends Benkler’s comments on a networked public commons from last year.

As I wrote then, we’re in unexplored territory. We may have seen the dawn of new era of networked activism and participatory democracy, borne upon the tidal wave of hundreds of millions of citizens connected by mobile technology, social media platforms and open data.

As I also observed, all too presciently, that era will also include pervasive electronic surveillance, whether you’re online and offline, with commensurate threats to privacy, security, human rights and civil liberties, and the use of these technologies by autocratic government to suppress dissent or track down dissidents.

Finding a way for forward will not be easy but it’s clearly necessary.

21st Century eDemocracy: eGovernment of, for, by and with the People

In the 1990s, the Internet changed communication and commerce forever. A decade later, a new social layer for the World Wide Web democratized the tools for online publishing. Citizens without specialized technical skills can now easily upload pictures, video, and text to a more interactive Web, where they can then use powerful new platforms to share, mix, and comment upon it all. In the years since the first social networks went online, the disruption presented by this dynamic online environment, fed by faster Internet connections and a global explosion of mobile users, has created shifts in the power structure as powerful as those brought about by the introduction of the printing press centuries ago.

With the Internet being hailed as the public arena for our time, governments around the world are waking up to a changed information environment in this new 21st century. Social-media platforms present new risks and rewards for government, but the fact is these platforms are hosting public discourse between hundreds of millions of citizens. In the context of these changes, public servants have begun using social media to share information and engage with citizens. Below, four digital pioneers share their insights, experiences, and hopes about the new opportunities social media offers for people to participate in their government.

These essays were originally published in the Association for Computing Machinery’s “Interactions” Magazine. They are republished here with permission.

Serving Citizens via Social Media

By Steve Ressler (@govloop), founder of GovLoop.com, former IT program manager and auditor at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In 2012, social media is mainstream. Facebook is preparing a $100 billion IPO. President Obama is hosting a series of [social media] Town Halls. Even my grandmother is on Facebook. So what’s the role of social media in government? A few years ago, social media in government was brand new. It was exciting when a new city launched a Facebook page or a councilperson posted meetings on YouTube, or a state department launched a mobile app.

We’ve moved past the honeymoon phase, and now social media is being asked to deliver core mission value. For state and local governments, there are three foundational ways in which social media helps deliver value:

Reach more people. One of the core foundational roles of state and local government is to provide information for citizens. This is why for years government agencies have sent information via postal mail, printed agency newsletters, held in-person town hall meetings, and built telephone call centers. With more than 750 million users on Facebook, 200 million on Twitter, and the whole world tuning in to YouTube, social media is simply the largest channel that most people use these days to get information.

Get feedback. Another core role of government is to get feedback from citizens. Classic town halls simply do not work as well in today’s modern society, where everyone is busy and few people have the time to drive downtown at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday for a meeting. Social media is an interactive, two-way medium that acts as a great vehicle for real-time feedback.

Lower costs and increase revenue. In today’s tough budgetary times, cities and states simply cannot ignore opportunities to lower costs and increase revenue. Mobile applications like SeeClickFix let citizens photograph and report potholes and other city problems, instead of the city having to send out a truck to investigate every call-in complaint. Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on printing and mailing property-tax statements or city guides, city governments can save lots of money by sending the same information via email and social media. And that’s just the beginning.

I’ll be the first to admit that social media is not perfect. It is not a magic cure. Just because you add new social media channels does not mean you can remove other channels, like phone lines. Further, implementing social media well is a skill, and it takes time to see its impact. It matters, however, because the world has already changed. If government wants to remain relevant to citizens, it must evolve to meet the demands of the 21st century. The modern citizen is using social media, and is the reason why Facebook has [845] million users, and that iPhones and iPads have made Apple the second most valuable company in the world. Government must meet citizens where they are now or risk losing the opportunity to be more relevant to their lives.

Selective Use of Social Media in Government Projects

By Jeffrey Levy (@levy413), Director of Web Communications at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The use of social media runs the gamut, from agencies that are still considering it, to those who are using it mostly as a broadcast mechanism, to those like EPA that offer a mix of broadcast and community participation, to those who rely on social media for full-blown collaboration. Social media gives us good tools to enhance transparency, participation, and collaboration. But the trick is figuring out the most effective projects in which to use these tools.

Five years ago, there wasn’t even a single U.S. government blog. Today there is at least one U.S. agency using every type of social media I can think of. EPA itself is engaged in most channels, at least in broadcast mode and often in two-way discussion and the solicitation of community-created content (photos, videos, comments, etc.).

Social media works very well in conjunction with email and websites. At EPA, we use all channels to promote other channels, both by cross-linking and by embedding content from social media into Web pages. Some things we’re starting to think about are how to use two-dimensional barcodes (QR codes) well, and developing mobile applications in general. One nice thing is that many social media sites already have mobile versions, so it is simple and useful to link to them from our mobile site.

We are active where the people are on the most popular social media platforms, so we have the chance to talk to, and respond to, people who may never come to our main website. We also have a much broader ability to share our information. In many cases, we hear ideas from people who otherwise would not contact us. For example, during the recent nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan, we were able to answer questions through Facebook to help alleviate concerns and provide solid information to new groups of people.

Our mission is best served when we work collaboratively with the public to protect their health and the environment. Photo and video projects engage people. For example, the “It’s My Environment video project involved hundreds of people making short video clips, in which they took ownership of protecting our environment. By using social media channels to promote “Pick 5 for the Environment,” we challenge people to take other kinds of actions.

Social media can also help us catch environmental criminals simply by helping us advertise our fugitives list. The health warnings we issue can reach hundreds of thousands of people through Facebook, Twitter, and email. The recipients are people who asked to be kept in the loop, so they are a much more interested audience than the general public. Another key aspect of our mission is our use of online discussion forums, where we invite anyone to share their thoughts and opinions on policy issues.

My social media mantra is mission, tools, metrics, teach. It depends on the channel, but generally, we need better stats. For example, we have 42,000 followers on Twitter. But what’s the number of people who actually see a particular tweet? Facebook provides impressions, which is a more useful statistic. YouTube provides some good metrics too.

We also need inexpensive tools to help us monitor multiple channels. Each social media company is doing its own thing, and most are not focused on helping us cross channels. But multichannel management will become increasingly important as we grow more active in more channels.

Changing the Conversation Through Social Media

By Nick Schaper (@nickschaper), Executive Director of Digital Strategic Communications at U.S. Chamber of Commerce, former Director of Digital Media for U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Representative John Boehner.

Much has been made of American politicians’ sometimes transformative, sometimes awkward, and occasionally career-ending entrances into social media. Suffice it to say that many are on board and they’re not likely to exit social media. Your member of Congress wants you to like him or her, both at the ballot box and on Facebook. While the number of elected representatives integrating social media into their communications efforts has soared, this is still very much a new frontier in governance. Americans are getting a very rare opportunity to shape the direction of their government.

In the heady frontier days of the government’s adoption of social media (five to seven years ago), members of Congress moved from the stodgy “traditional media” strategy of drafting and sending out a press release to the cutting-edge “new media” strategy of drafting and sending out a press release and then posting a link to it via Twitter and Facebook. It was hardly splitting the atom, but it was moving in the right direction.

As the government social media ecosystem continues to evolve, we’re seeing more aggressively innovative efforts aimed at increasing participation, transparency, and accountability. Officials and their staff are identifying the unique abilities of popular platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, and they’re adjusting their communications accordingly. In the past year alone, we’ve seen Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives enlist Americans’ digital support in voting on which government programs to cut, resulting in their directly shaping the governing agenda of what would become the House’s new majority. Further down Pennsylvania Avenue, the Obama Administration’s digital team has led the nation’s first Twitter and Facebook town halls, among numerous other experiments in participatory and open government.

These efforts have helped to create a vast new virtual town square. Unfortunately, that square is still a noisy, unruly place. Like much of the Web, .gov is plagued by signal-to-noise issues, many of which are exacerbated by the unique rules and traditions of each branch. Members of Congress, for example, would prefer to communicate primarily (if not exclusively) with constituents who live in their districts. Users don’t generally list their home address in their Twitter bio, so should members be @replying to tweets when they can’t trace the origin?

Identity and bandwidth challenges will not be solved anytime soon, and certainly not in this space, but suffice it to say that your representatives are eagerly looking for new ways to communicate and legislate. Congressional staffs scour online communities for mentions of their bosses. Bloggers and other digital influentials have been given unprecedented access to politicians. When the president recently took questions live via Twitter, he found himself on the hot seat in his own White House when he faced questions on the lack of jobs and a flagging economy. All of this is testament to the fact that the tweets and status updates of citizens are echoing in the marble halls of our nation’s government.

The marriage of social media and government has made it through the honeymoon stage. To what degree that results in a more perfect union is still yet to be seen. The potential for transformative change is there, and I’m confident it will be realized by this and many generations of social media patriots to come.

Reaching and Revealing New Heights Through Social Media

By Stephanie L. Schierholz (@schierholz), former Social Media Manager, National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

To understand how NASA uses social media to accomplish its mission, you must first understand the agency’s vision. Simply put, the space agency’s goal is to “reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.” What NASA accomplishes and learns cannot benefit all humankind if people do not know about what we’re discovering. This is why the 1958 act that established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration also called for the agency to “provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof.”

Making NASA accessible to the American people—and, really, to citizens around the world—has been ingrained in the agency’s operations since the early days. If you are old enough, you know this is true because you saw astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon via television signals from a NASA broadcast. Today you can watch NASA TV streaming online via your computer or mobile device.

The mandate to share what the agency is doing as widely as possible (and a restriction against advertising) keeps us on the lookout for new ways we can spread the word and be more accessible. Social media tools have enabled NASA to engage the public efficiently and effectively. Social media sites provide us an easy way to keep the public updated with news delivered straight into their personal newsfeed or homepage, which they probably visit more often than traditional news sites or the NASA website.

The agency has come quite a distance since the pioneers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory started a Twitter account for the Phoenix Mars Lander program (@MarsPhoenix) in May 2008. NASA’s primary Twitter account (@NASA) has more than 1 million followers. We have more than 200 social media accounts agency-wide, including more than 20 astronauts on Twitter. You can find them all at www.nasa.gov/connect. Because of its interest in identifying new ways to connect, NASA was the first government agency to form partnerships with Gowalla, Facebook, and SlideShare. Why? Because each allows the agency to share our content with audiences who might never visit the main NASA website.

The real value of NASA’s use of social media tools can be seen in the level of engagement they attract and the communities that form around them. It is called social media because our fans and followers have a reasonable expectation their questions will be answered and their comments heard. By responding and interacting with them, NASA has the opportunity to educate, inform, and inspire. Fans and followers who are passionate about what we do have platforms to express this passion and share it with others.

NASA “tweetups” take it to the next level, bringing the online engagement to in-person gatherings where participants have an opportunity to talk to NASA leaders, scientists, engineers, and astronauts and the chance to see how and where we work. Participants have arrived at NASA tweetups as casual fans or followers and walked away as enthusiastic advocates of the work we are doing. A strong sense of community develops at these events, exemplifying how social media can bring together people who have common interests.

What’s next for NASA and social media? We’ll continue to keep our eyes open for platforms we can use to engage and share the word out about what we’re doing. Meanwhile, the agency is working on improving our internal support for social media, focusing on processes, guidelines, and coordination. You can expect to see improvements to our Facebook page, a mobile check-in spot for our “Search for the Moon Rocks” partnership with Gowalla, a Foursquare mayor of the International Space Station, more of our presentations, videos, and documents on SlideShare, and more out-of-this-world content in the places you go to be social online.

New Horizons for eDemocracy

The insights and experiences shared above represent only a small sample of the variety of ways in which social media is transforming governments. While the examples are U.S.-centric, they do represent trends that are evolving in other countries. What we’ve left for a future discussion is how citizens around the world are using social media to disrupt traditional ways of governing. For instance, social media is credited with helping to accelerate social change in Tunisia, Egypt, and other parts of the Middle East. It has also been used in collaborative partnerships between government and citizens to respond to man-made crises or natural disasters.

The examples above, however, should provide a useful overview of some of the ways in which today’s participatory platforms are playing increasingly important roles in the evolution of government of, by, for, and now with the people.

R U up? Haz $ 4 Uncle Sam? [USGAO to host online chat about taxes & Bitcoin]

More signs that it’s 2013 and we’re all into the 21st century: Tomorrow at 2 PM ET, the United States Government Accountability Office will answer online questions about a decentralized electronic currency during a livestreamed event. 

Yes, the USGAO is talking to the Internet about Bitcoin.

And yes, the agency tweeted about it.

Using social media to convene and amplify a discussion about a difficult, timely topic is a terrific use of the medium and the historic moment. Here’s hoping that USGAO officials get good questions and give frank, clear answers.

You can read more about Bitcoin and taxes at National Journal and follow along at #AskGAOLive on Twitter tomorrow.

9 suggested follows for @HillaryClinton on Twitter

Hillary Clinton has joined Twitter. The former First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State joined the conversation with aplomb and humor, thanking the authors of a tumblr blog, “Txts from Hillary,” for inspiration and adopting the now iconic image of her aboard a military transport plane as her avatar. Her first — and to this point, only — tweet had been retweeted more than 6,200 times in five hours.

So far, Clinton is only following all-things-Clinton: former President Bill Clinton, their daughter, Chelsea Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation.

The Washington Post suggested 15 accounts for Clinton to follow, ranging from serious (the @VP’s office) to satiric (@AnthonyWeiner & @JustinBeiber.) With the exception of the @StateDept, the list is heavily focused upon U.S. domestic politics and the 2016 presidential election, a prospect that it seems many DC media outlets begin speculating about a few seconds after Mitt Romney walked away from his concession speech in Boston early on the morning of November 7th.

While the list is light-hearted, it’s also unnecessarily constrained in scope and perspective. Clinton spent four years traveling the earth, speaking to world leaders. Why not continue to keep that global reach on a platform that has, well, global reach?

While she could adopt social graphs of Beltway pundits and media, primarily following other DC media and politicians, this new account is an opportunity to do, well, a bit better. While former staffers Jared Cohen, Alec J. Ross, Ronan Farrow, Katie Dowd and Katie Stanton may be of assistance (and useful follows for her) in no particular order, here are 9 other accounts that would vastly improve future #TweetsFromHillary.

1) The White House

People interested in governance and Twitter tend to follow the @WhiteHouse. (Those who wish to be elected to it might benefit as well.) Under Macon Phillips, the White House director of digital, the White House account has taken some risks to become a platform for the President’s policies — and often, amplified back the voices of those Americans who support them. A safe following strategy would be to choose from the accounts the White House follows.

2) Anne Marie Slaughter

A former State Department official turned Princeton official, Slaughter is already well-known to Clinton from her tenure there. Her focus on foreign policy, women’s issues and international affairs is a valuable addition to any feed.

3) Emily Bell

The Director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School is one of the sharpest observers of how technology is changing media and commentators on that shift.

4) Nick Kristof

The New York Times columnist, who calls himself a “print dinosaur, trying to evolve into a new media maven,” has adapted to social media better than any of the other writers on The Grey Lady’s opinion page, from Facebook to Google+ to Twitter. Kristof cuts through the noise, sharing news that matters, and listens to his global networks of connections far better than most.

5) danah boyd

People new to Twitter may find following at least one “social media expert” useful, for tips, nuance and criticism. There’s no one most deserving of that description than digital ethnographer danah boyd, though she’d never claim the title. (Be mindful that she may take a Twitter vacation this summer.)

6) Mark Knoller

If you don’t follow CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller, you’re missing a real-time history of the presidency.

7) Bill Gates

One of the world’s smartest men will (help) make you smarter if you follow him.

8) Blake Hounshell

The (former) managing editor at Foreign Policy has one of the best pulses on global events and what they mean on Twitter. He puts world news and events in context, or at least as much as one can in 140 characters. (While you’re at it, Secretary Clinton, set up a list to follow Andy Carvin (@acarvin) too. He tweets a lot but you’ll likely find that many of your former staffers follow him for good reason.)

9) Maria Popova

Everyone has a “desert island follow” or two. For many people, that might be Popova, who has a remarkable talent for finding and sharing interesting literature, art, science and more.

These are, naturally, just a starting point. In 2013, there are literally thousands of government officials, policy wonks, journalists and politicians who Clinton might find following valuable. (Who knows? Maybe she’ll even follow learn from P.J. Crowley.)

There are 66 verified world leaders on Twitter. While most don’t tweet themselves, Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves does personally, sometimes with an edge.

The easiest method may be for her to follow Twitter’s list.

If Clinton wants to make the most of the platform, she’ll do well to personally unfollow some feeds, find new voices, listen to her @replies and act like a human.

12 lessons about social media, politics and networked journalism

In 2011, I was a visiting faculty member at the Poynter Institute, where I talked with a workshop full of journalists about working within a networked environment for news. As I put together my talk, I distilled the lessons I’d learned from my experiences covering tech and the open government initiative that would affect the success of any audience relationship and posted them onto Google+. Following is an adapted and updated version of those insights. The Prezi from the presentation is online here.

1) We have to change our idea of “audience.”

People are no longer relegated to being the passive recipients of journalists’ work. They have often creators of content and have become important nodes for information themselves, sometimes becoming even more influential within their topical or regional communities than journalists are. That means we have to treat them differently. Yes, people are reading, watching or listening to the work of journalists but they’re much more than an “audience.”

In the 21st century, the intersection of government, politics and media is increasingly a participatory, reciprocal and hypersocial experience due to the explosion in adoption of connected smartphones that turn citizens into publishers, broadcasters and human sensors – or censors, depending upon the context. More than half of American adults have a smartphone in 2013. The role of editors online now includes identifying and debunking misinformation, sifting truth from fiction, frequently in real-time. The best “social media editors” are creating works of journalism from a raw draft of history contributed by the reports of the many.

2) Good conversations involve talking and listening.

Communicating effectively in networked environments increasingly involves asking good questions that elicit quality responses — the more specific the question, the better the chance for a quality response. The Obama administration’s open government initiative’s initial use of the Internet in 2009, at Change.gov, did not ask highly structured questions, which led to a less effective public consultation.

3) The success of any conversation depends upon how well we listen.

Organizations that invite comments and then don’t respond to audience comments or questions send a clear message — “we’re not listening.” There are now many ways there are to listen and a proliferation of channels, going far beyond calls and email.

Comments have become distributed across the Internet and social Web. People are not just responding to those made on a given article or post: they’re on Twitter, Facebook and potentially other outposts. Find where people are talking about your beat, organization or region: that’s your community. Some organizations are using metrics to determine not only how often sentiments are expressed but the strength of that conviction and the expertise behind it.

4) No matter how good the conversation, its hosts must close the loop.

When the host of a conversation, be it someone from government, school, business or media, asks someone’s opinion, but doesn’t acknowledge it, much less act upon it, the audience loses trust.

If we seek audience expertise but don’t subsequently let it inform our work, the audience loses trust. Increasingly, to gain and hold that trust you must demonstrate the evidence behind your assertions by citation, with research tied via footnotes or hyperlinks, source code or supporting data.

It’s better not to ask than to ask and not act upon the answer. It’s similarly better not to engage in social media at all than to perpetuate the same old one-way communication streams with legacy broadcast behaviors. There are also new risks posted by the combination of ubiquitous connected mobile devices and the global reach of social media networks. To paraphrase Mark Twain, it is better to be thought a fool than to tweet and prove it.

5) You must know who your audience is and where, why, when and how they’re searching for information to engage them effectively.

TechTarget, one of my former employers, successfully segmented its traditional IT audience into niches that cared passionately about specific technology and/or issues. The company then developed integrated media products around highly specific topical area, a successful business model, albeit one that has specialized applicability to the news business. Politico’s approach, which now includes live online video, paid subscriber content for “pros,” policy segmentation, email newsletters and events, is the most apt comparison in the political space, although there are many other trade publications that cater to niche audiences.

Here’s the key for both specific audiences: IT buyers have decision-making ability over thousands, if not millions, of dollars in budgets. Policy makers in DC have similar authority on appropriates, legislation or regulation.

Most general readers do not have budget authority nor policy cout and therefore will not sustain an effective business model. If you can create content that is of interest to people with buying power, then sponsors/advertisers will bite. The model, in other words is not a panacea.

6) Your audience should be able to find and hear from YOU.

It matters whether the person whose name is on a social media account actually engages in it. For instance, President Obama doesn’t directly use social media, with a few notable exceptions. His White House and campaign staff do, at @WhiteHouse and @BarackObama. Some GOP candidates and incumbents actually maintain their accounts. If you take away the president, the GOP is ahead in both houses of Congress. They have attracted huge followings.

Why does a personal account to complement the masthead matter? It stays with the reporter or editor from job to job. While many networks or papers have adopted naming conventions that immediately identify a journalist’s affiliation (@NameCBS or @NYT_Name) that practice does create a gray area in terms of who “owns” the account. @OctaviaNasrCNN was able to drop the CNN and keep her account. @CAmanpour was able to transfer from CNN to ABC. Even within networks, there is a lack of standardization: Compare @DavidGregory or @JakeTapper to @BetsyMTP.

7) People respond differently to personal accounts than mastheads.

Andy Carvin taught me about this dynamic years ago, which I’ve since seen borne out in practice. He compared the results he’d get from asking questions on his personal account (@acarvin) to a primary NPR accounts (@NPRNews) and found that people responded to him more. They followed and viewed the news account (more) as a feed for information. The White House @OpenGov dCTO account explored by creating her account, @BethNoveck, and found similar results. Incidentally, she then was able to keep that account after she left public service.

8) Better engagement with the audience requires the media to change established traditions and behaviors.

How many reporters still do not RT their competition’s stories, whether they beat them to a story or not? The best bloggers tend to be immense linkers and sharers. This is much like the decades-old question of whether a given newsroom’s website links to stories done by competitors or not. This behavior now has increasing consequences for algorithmic authority in both search engines (SEO) and social networks (SMO.) If we aspire to hosting the conversation around an issue, do we now have a responsibility need to point our audience at all the perspectives, data, sources and analysis that would contribute to an understanding of that issue? What happens if competitors or new media enterprises, like the Huffington Post, create an expectation for that behavior?

A good aspirational goal is to be a hub for a given beat, which means linking, RT’ing or sharing relevant information in a source-agnostic manner. If the beat is a given campaign, statehouse, policy area or geography.

9) Data-driven campaigns create more of a need for data-driven journalism.

Social media is important.. In Election 2012, social, location, mobile and campaign data — and how we use it — proved to be an equally important factor. Nate Silver pulled immense audiences to his 538 blog at the New York Times. Online spreadsheets, visualizations, predictive models, sentiment analysis, and mobile and/or Web apps are all part of the new ‘data journalism’ lexicon, as well as an emerging ‘newsroom stack’

Why? President Obama’s reelection campaign invested heavily in data collection, science and analysis for 2012. Others will follow in the years ahed. Republicans are investing in data but are appear to be behind, in terms of their capacity for data science. This may change in future cycles.

Government social media use continues to grow. More than 75% of Congress is using social media now. Freshmen Congressman in the House start the terms in office with a standard palate of platforms: Drupal for their website, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube for constituent communications. By mid-2010, 22 of 24 Federal agencies were on Facebook. This trend will only continue at the state and local level.

10) What are governments learning from their attempts?

They’re behind but learning. From applying broadcast models to adopting new platforms, tools for listening, archiving, campaigning vs governing, personal use versus staffers, linking or sharing behaviors, targeted consultations, constituent identity, privacy and security policies, states and cities are moving forward into the 21st century. Slowly.

11) Know your platforms, their utility, demographics and conventions.

Facebook is gigantic. You cannot ignore it if you’re looking for the places people congregate online. That said, if you’re covering politics and breaking news, Twitter remains the new wire for news. It’s still the backchannel for events. It’s not an ideal place to host conversations because of issues with threaded conversations, although third party tools and conventions have evolved that make regular discussions around #hashtags possible. Google+ is much better for hosting hangouts and discussions, as are modern blog comment platforms like Disqus. Facebook fits somewhere in between the two for conversation: you can’t upvote comments and it requires readers to have a Facebook account – but the audience is obviously immense.

12) Keep an eye out for what’s next and who’s there.

Journalists should be thinking about Google+ in terms of both their own ‘findability’ and that of their stories in search results. The same is true for Facebook and Bing integration. Watch stats from LinkedIn as a source or forum for social news. Reddit has evolving into a powerful platform for media and public figures to host conversations. StumbleUpon can send a lot of traffic to you.

The odds are good that there are influential blogs with many readers who are covering your beat. Know the most important ones and their writers, link to them, RT their work and comment upon them. More services will evolve, like communities around open data, regional hubs for communities themselves, games and hybrids of location-based networks. Have fun exploring them!