Friday, December 19, 2008

"I Am Public Service:" Great Work in Your Words

For the last few months, GovLoop founder Steve Ressler and I have been bouncing ideas back and forth for a way to highlight public service. That brainstorming process crystallized over the last week as we launched (in collaboration with Steve Mandzik of 1H57) a new website called "I Am Public Service" to highlight and honor the heroic work of public sector employees. Here's a screen shot:

A recent survey by Gallup and the Partnership for Public Service revealed that only 37% of Americans believed that government employees are performing at what they would consider a "good" or "excellent" level. We would like to change this public perception as we share the stories of public servants in their own words.

On the same day that the initial Gallup/Partnership survey results were released, there was an Opinion article in the Detroit Free Press entitled, "Be Grateful for Public Servants, Maybe Become One Yourself." Consider the following excerpt:

"In this moment of political opening in reaction to economic crisis, people seem to be realizing that we need public servants, people whose goal is promoting and protecting the common good...My grandpa, Saul Levin, served on the Michigan Corrections Commission. Saul's brother, Theodore, was a federal judge, and Uncle Ted's son, Charles, served on the Michigan Supreme Court. My dad, U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin, and my uncle, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, have quietly become the longest serving brothers in the history of Congress.

But it's none of these men who set me to wondering whether we're about to see a public service renaissance. No, it was my mom, Vicki Levin, not famous and never elected to office. For almost 30 years, until she was forced to retire in the spring for health reasons, Mom worked hard as a federal employee -- a classic "Washington bureaucrat."

But I don't think I ever appreciated what her work meant to her and to others, not fully. Back when I lived in the Washington, D.C., area, I tried to convince Mom to retire so she could spend more time with my four kids and her other grandchildren. After all, she was in her early 70s. Why not kick back? Mom bristled at the idea, saying her work and her relationships with colleagues were central to her life.

When her battle with breast cancer forced her to retire in April, we all learned just what Mom was talking about -- and just how much public service can mean. Letters of tribute poured in from colleagues, dozens and dozens of research scientists at universities from coast to coast. Many scholars, some now department chairs, told detailed stories about how they got their research start with Mom's help, or how she co-authored a paper with one scientist that is still her most cited work, or how her committee was the intellectual salon of their field."

Levin provides a link to the stories from his mother's colleagues and goes on to share more about his mother's incredible work as a public servant.

Wouldn't it be great to create a place where we all tell the stories of people who are making a difference through public service? That's the hope of

Over the holidays, would you be willing to share your story? Between now and January 5, 2009, we are hoping to collect and select the best stories to include in a book to be presented in coordination with the arrival of the new Administration.

Let's inspire our nation and restore trust in government by promoting the great work of public sector personnel that are adeptly addressing the many challenges that face us as a nation!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Am Public Service

If you haven't seen it, you've got to check out I Am Public Service. Here's a quick video:

I Am Public Service from on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Are You a Member of Generation C?

Originally published at the Young Government Leaders Blog

In my journeys across the Web, I have observed a fascinating phenomena: Millennials and Gen X'ers aren't the only ones embracing the power of social media and its potential to create "Government 2.0."

If I had to estimate the average age of guests at virtual venues like GovLoop, Twitter, the blogosphere and beyond, most participants are people in their late 30s through mid-40s.

In case you're wondering, here's a quick breakdown of the generations in the workforce:

Veterans: Born before 1940
Boomers: 1940-1960
Generation X: 1960-1980
Millennials: 1980-2000

Earlier this week, I was posting a PowerPoint on the generations to SlideShare and saw this deck:

But it's the following slide that really caught my attention:

I think this definition is too limiting and would contend that Generation C represents someone of ANY age who is actively using social media and engages others on the Internet with a "2.0" mindset - creative, collaborative and community-oriented. (For a list of "68 Words Beginning with C" that describe social media, see this tag cloud posted by Ari Herzog.)

In delivering workshops and blogging about the intersection of the generations in the workforce, social media and government, I describe the difference between "Web 1.0" and "Web 2.0" in the following way:
Web 1.0 is like a store front where browsers can behold the wares, but the door to the store is locked. With Web 2.0, there is no store front. It's an open market where people exchange and barter to gain better products and ideas.

Members of Generation C operate under this 2.0 mindset, creating marketplaces all over the Web to share and shape information and ideas.

For Boomers (who don't want to admit that you're getting old!), here's your chance to consider yourself part of a "younger" generation. For the Millennials and Gen X'ers, it's our turn to exercise leadership and create the agencies and organizations that we envision by building upon our aptitude with new media. For people of all ages, becoming a member of Generation C presents an opportunity to construct a bridge across the intergenerational divide and create a cohesive community that coalesces around a collection of common goals.

So if you are a member of Generation C (or wannabe), let's get to work! How can we bring other people in our agencies and organizations into the fold, encouraging them to embrace the 2.0 mindset?

Young Government Leaders (YGL) is a professional organization of young men and women employed by the Federal Government. Its mission is to educate, inspire, and transform the Federal workforce and its membership consists of over more than 1,400 young Federal employees at more than 30 different departments and agencies located throughout the United States.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008 - Caring About Sharing

Greetings, everyone. Have you seen the new open letter from Larry Lessig, Ben Smith (Politico), Tim O'Reilly and others from Mozilla, Wikipedia, RedditMozilla, and the Sunlight Foundation regarding three principles for open government? Here's the slide show:

And here are the three principles:

1. No Legal Barrier to Sharing (law (copyright law) should not block sharing);

2. No Technological Barrier to Sharing (code (limitations on downloads, for example) should not block sharing;

3. Free competition (no alliances should favor one commercial entity over another, or commercial over noncommercial entities).

Also, here are a couple links to learn more:


- Larry Lessig's Blog

- Ben Smith's Explanation at Politico

I am most interested in principle #2. Here's an excerpt from the broader definition of No Technological Barrier to Sharing:

"Content made publicly available should also be freely accessible, not blocked by technological barriers. Citizens should be able to download transition-related content in a way that makes it simple to share, excerpt, remix, or redistribute. This is an essential digital freedom....We would therefore strongly encourage the transition to assure that the material it has licensed freely be practically accessible freely as well."

The call here is for citizens to be able to have free access to digital content...and yet many government agencies themselves restrict access for their employees. It seems that Obama's administration is sending an early signal that they will expect more openness by government - not only in sharing content with constituents, but also allowing the public sector employees to have broader access to Internet media.

If you're a government employee, do you welcome this openness? Or do you have reservations?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Generation C" - A New Name for Millennials?

I was just about to post a PowerPoint on Gen X and the Millennials over at SlideShare and came upon this impressive and informative deck that I thought you'd enjoy:

UPDATE on 12/3: I decided to add my own slides that I used for a presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Telework Advisory Council (MATAC) annual event a couple months ago:

Whatever you want to call this generation or the mentality of early social media adopters, we/they are demanding to be treated differently based on their preferences and proficiencies.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Homeland Security: The (Not Yet Created) TechSolutions Wiki

Last week, while attending the National League of Cities conference in Orlando, FL, I connected with representatives from the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security. Our conversation began by them highlighting a new website called TechSolutions. According to the website:
The TechSolutions Program was established by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate to provide information, resources and technology solutions that address mission capability gaps identified by the emergency response community.
Currently, “only first responders are eligible to submit capability gaps.” TechSolutions vets all capability gap submissions through a group of first responder subject matter experts. If TechSolutions identifies a technology solution as a high priority, and if no such product exists or no research is ongoing, it moves into another phase of potential development with a more in-depth process of examination before becoming a full scale project.

I thought the concept sounded great: encourage the end user community - in this case first responders – to contribute and critique their needs and ideas. In fact, it represents a Web 2.0 mindset of seeking a collaborative path rather than operating independently. So far, so good.

But then the conversation continued.

I learned that the process for collecting these submissions was done via email. TechSolutions recognized that this process was somewhat inefficient, so they have devised an automated process, where responders will fill out an online form that will populate the database…versus someone receiving the email submissions and entering them manually. So they’ve taken one step out of the process.

But what if they went one step further? How about a Tech Solutions Wiki? Envision TechSolutions setting up a wiki and designating several pre-determined categories and links to spark submissions. These categories would not represent a comprehensive list, but attempt to capture the major themes or target areas for feedback. These themes could also be based on S&T’s 6 divisions: Borders and Maritime Security; Chemical and Biological; Command, Control, and Interoperability; Explosives; Human Factors; and Infrastructure and Geophysical Division.

When visitors access the wiki, the individual that was previously capturing and compiling data from emails now serves as a monitor and moderator. Ultimately, however, the wiki participants will take ownership for the ongoing creation, organization, review and analysis of their data. The real asset of a wiki solution is that each of the contributors will be able to see in real-time what one another are saying. They will be able to comments on each other’s respective contributions, brainstorming toward solutions that enable DHS to more rapidly produce the products and procedures that keep Americans safe. If security is a concern, then potential users could gain permission to access, as with the OMB Max Federal Community. Only users that register are given permission would be allowed to participate. DHS may even wish to grant varying levels of access based on the stage in the submission process.

In the book Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, the authors claim that “the new Web is helping to transform the realm of science into an increasingly open and collaborative endeavor characterized by:

• the rapid diffusion of best-practice techniques and standards;
• the stimulation of new technological hybrids and recombinations;
• the availability of “just in time” expertise and increasingly powerful tools for conducting research;
• faster positive feedback cycles from public knowledge to private enterprise; and
• increasingly horizontal and distributed models of research and innovation, including greater openness of scientific knowledge, tools and networks.”

While DHS is to be applauded for seeking input from their constituents, affordable tools and technology exist that make the process even more powerful. Why not use an even more efficient and potentially effective method of collecting and sharing information such as a wiki platform?

Perhaps the key point here is that every agency should take a careful look at every attempt to acquire or share information and consider if there is a more robust solution than more traditional methods - when “traditional” now means practices that were common just 4-5 years ago (such as email and online forms).

If DHS (or other agencies) are looking for examples of other public sector organizations that have deployed successful models, here are a few websites to examine for best practice information: – this is a page dedicated to wikis, including examples of wikis used by other government agencies.

Collaboration Project – reveals best practices in using social media/Web 2.0 tools at all levels of government.

Intellipedia – although closed to the public, the intelligence community has been running three wikis where thousands of personnel with appropriate clearances from 16 agencies are contributing important information that helps in the protection of American interests. I'll even bet DHS has a couple people involved in it...

Do you have other examples or ideas to share that would assist our public sector servants at DHS?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Social Media, Millennials and Obama...and FDR?

There is no doubt that social media and the Millennials were two intertwined forces that propelled Obama to the Presidency.

Offering evidence to the idea that Obama will be the first President to use web-based, social media as a primary communications tool, this morning I saw a link on Yahoo! to what is about to become a weekly radio address from President-Elect Obama. Of course, there are already links on YouTube and as well. It's being dubbed a "'web-side" or "Tube-side chat", remixing the fireside chat used by FDR to reach Americans right in their living rooms during the dire days of the Depression. Only now Obama is meeting people everywhere and anywhere they happen to have a link to the Web.

As often happens to a Web wanderer, one link led to another and before long I found myself watching Obama's election night acceptance speech for the fifth time. At about 1:15, the camera pans viewers to give a glimpse of crowd reaction. I was struck by this image:

For me, this young man's expression captures the essence of how many Millennials looked at Obama from the start, spurring them to mobilize on his behalf in unprecedented numbers.

The key, of course, is for Obama to harness and channel this energy in the months ahead, asking not only Millennials but all of us to sacrifice time and energy for one another as Americans, and especially for those citizens who are most vulnerable and hardest hit by the economic downturn.

I'm not the only one speaking about this connection. First, spend some time with this article by Jonathan Alter entitled, "Reaching Out with Radio. I'll quote at length since it's so applicable:
A few days after Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn into office, he sat in the White House working on a radio speech about the country's banking crisis...It was the depths of the Depression, with a quarter of Americans out of work, homeless and destitute.

The American economic system was in a state of shock...The New York Stock Exchange had suspended trading, and the Chicago Board of Trade bolted its doors for the first time since its founding in 1848. This was the bottom. I

Roosevelt's inaugural address at the Capitol had begun to restore hope...Then FDR used a new medium in a new way to change millions...FDR brought natural talent to the role. His speaking voice was a beautiful, relaxed tenor, not the contrived basso profundo of pompous politicians.

Roosevelt owed much to technological good fortune. In 1921, the number of radios in the United States was in the thousands. By 1928, there were 9 million, and by 1932, 18 million, with about half the households owning at least one radio.

Gerald Ford, about 20 at the time, remembered FDR's Fireside Chats as "big events -- we would all stop and listen." Ronald Reagan's biographer, Lou Cannon, has written that Reagan's "metaphors [were] the offspring of FDR's." And Bill Clinton recalled hearing his grandfather talk about how he sat in rapt attention, "then went to work the next day feeling a little different about the country."
Let's return to 2008. Here's another link to some brief comments on from Paul Levinson, a professor of popular culture and media studies at Fordham University...and an excerpt:
I think what we have been seeing on TV is very similar to what took place on radio during the Depression, in that both are about reassurance...Just as hearing Roosevelt's words reassured Americans that things were going to get better...What we have been seeing the past weeks reassures us that America has not been hopelessly diminished.
While I never thought that America was "hopelessly diminished" and it is far too early to compare an Obama presidency to FDR, it is clear that Obama will continue to use social media in a way that capitalizes on its best elements: giving each of us and all of us the ability to connect and collaborate beyond time and geography to discover solutions for the challenges that can only be addressed through a profound change in approach and action.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


A couple weeks ago, I stumbled across the OpenGardensBlog, authored by Ajit Joakar, "the founder of the London based publishing company futuretext focussed on emerging Web and Mobile technologies." According to his website, the OpenGardensBlog was recently rated a top 20 wireless blog worldwide by readers of 'Fierce wireless' and he keynoted the O'Reilly Web 2.0 Expo in April 2007.

What caught my attention was that he is already talking about Web 3.0! In particular, Ajit shares his views regarding "the role of Europe in a Digital world in 2025 with an emphasis on Mobile, Web 3.0 (EU vision) and Seamless / converged infrastructures," which coincides with a presentation he is delivering to the EU parliament. Here's an excerpt:
In a nutshell,

a) Governments and governing bodies like the European Union can act as a competitive advantage - hence the EIF and EU Web 3.0 visions take a greater significance.

b) I don't believe that an individual like Tim O Reilly, no matter how influential, can define the future of the Web any more. This would need people and organizations that can define but also execute that vision. Again, this makes the EU Digital vision important as does it's emphasis on Web 3.0

c) Finally, the locus of power and influence will be decentralised to many points globally - apart from USA, we will have Europe, China, India and potentially Brazil as important players and centres of commercial and technological excellence.

We are seeing very good responses from many governments and in future we are likely to see a greater role for government all over the world. This makes it all the more important to have a government or a governing body that has a visionary strategy towards Digital technology.
Here are the rest of his thoughts.

We've emailed back and forth a couple times, and he mentioned that he was authoring a book on the subject. To the degree that he would like ideas from this side of the pond, I hope to contribute. If you have ideas, be sure to link with him as well.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Lonely Teleworker and Why Twitter is Better Than Water

“It’s like a prison,” he explained. “I mean, it’s only for a couple months, but I don’t know if I am well-suited for teleworking. I need to be around people.”

With an office renovation forcing him from the office, a colleague recently shared these initial impressions of his teleworking experience.

I’ve been a remote employee for the past 3 years. There have been weeks where I woke up and realized that I had not ventured beyond a half mile from my home for more than 72 hours!

Have I experienced periods of isolation? You bet. I am an “E” on the Myers Briggs personality profile, so I get energy from being around others. Some days feel like walking through the desert with water being nothing more than a mirage. Are those people in the cul de sac?

So how have I overcome the isolation that can accompany teleworking?


I first heard about Twitter through a widely publicized story of an American student who used it to break out of an Egyptian jail. In 140 characters or less, he communicated with followers regarding his arrest and imprisonment…and eventual release.

If you don’t already know, Twitter is a social networking site that allows users to send status updates, or "tweets," from a variety of mobile, web-based in less than 140 characters. It’s like texting back and forth with everyone in your cell phone or instant messaging with hundreds of people at once.

My favorite way to use Twitter on a laptop is through Twhirl, a social software desktop client, based on the Adobe AIR platform.

Like email alerts that ping us through audio or visual cues, Twhirl allows you and me to participate in the ongoing conversation happening on Twitter - on our own terms. It’s just like being in the office. You know the scenario: A group of folks around the corner from your cube gather at the proverbial water cooler, chatting about the election or the game last weekend. You overhear the banter and decide to launch your volley: “Ignore the national polls. You’ve got to pay attention to the state by state contests.”

“Whatever, dude. It's closer than you think."

But Twitter via Twhirl is even BETTER than being in the office. What if that same group asks you a question, but you’re under a tight deadline? It would seem rude to ignore them, right? And it’s awkward to tell your colleagues that you’d like to blow them off right now because work is more important.

Not so with Twitter. People reply or direct message me, but if I’m busy, I get back to them when I have finished my tasks. PLUS, if I want to drive home my point about the election, I send them a quick link that illustrates my perspective…versus sending them an email later in the day, if I remember.

Moreover, you know those folks who come to your cube and talk incessantly, like it’s 4:00 p.m. on Friday…but it’s 10 a.m. on Tuesday? With Twitter’s truncation to 140 characters, people are forced to be concise. In the words of Ronald McDonald: “I’m lovin’ it!”

So where does this put my colleague who is home alone with nowhere to go?

Step 1: Sign up for Twitter.
Step 2: Download Twhirl.

Let it run in the background while you work. When you feel the need for human interaction, send out a message or respond to someone’s tweet. Share the latest article you read or your favorite RSS feed. Join the conversation for as long or as little as you like.

Soon you’ll start feeling a sense of community right there at your table or your TV tray. You’ll start talking to people about @ariherzog, @cheeky_geeky, or @digitalsista (or maybe even @timoreilly or @guykawasaki!) like they’re your cousins or old classmates.

Yes, you might even start scheduling appointments with people you tweet or exchanging ideas that lead to new business or better insights for your project.

So here’s a shout out to all my Tweeps: Thank you for helping me through another day at the otherwise lonely home office - you break the bonds of boredom and build a community beyond cubes!

By the way, follow me. I'm @krazykriz!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

US State Department and Web 2.0 - Take 2

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about the State Department’s use of Web 2.0, giving them an overall grade of "A" for their wide array of blogs, wikis, social network sites, podcasts, and a YouTube channel.

Let’s make it an A+.

Between that post and now, I had the chance to engage in a discussion on Web 2.0 with about a dozen personnel at State, mostly affiliated with the Youth Programs Division. The meeting revealed that they are engaged in even more social media endeavors. Below are two more examples:

Second Life: Although not operating their own SL island, State has partnered with the University of Southern California to host a live jazz concert, an awards ceremony for a diplomacy and video game competition (there were more attendees in SL than in person!) and an “Education Without Borders” forum that included participants from 14 countries just last week. What makes me excited about State’s forays into SL and other Web 2.0 applications is the fact that they are engaging an international audience. Recommendations: Don’t be the best kept secret! Share these successes more broadly with other agencies. For instance, why not collaborate with an agency like USDA Foreign Agriculture Service, Peace Corps or USAID to diversify the reach of these efforts. If they have programs that are even tangentially related to yours, explore partnerships that enhance and expand your influence.

ExchangesConnect: Two weeks ago, State launched a global forum called ExchangesConnect to promote collaboration and relationships among youth around the world. As you may know, State coordinates several exchange programs that bring our young global neighbors to the United States. We also send our students to other countries to facilitate cultural understanding. These programs are valuable, but what happens when the students return to their homes from the host country? What if they could continue to communicate with their new friends? That’s the essence of ExchangesConnect. Already at over 300 participants in just a few days, it’s worth watching the development of this community as it has implications beyond State. Recommendations: I remember writing a pen pal in Albuquerque when I lived in Nebraska back in fourth grade (the mid-80s) – I thought it sounded like an exotic place. Could this kind of community be useful to the Department of Education and its efforts to promote their intercultural curriculum efforts? What about collaborating with both ED and the Smithsonian to share ideas about bringing the world to the fingertips of our students - and all US citizens. Imagine having not just one, but 40 pen pals from places like Albania, Afghanistan and Angola using ExchangesConnect. Cool for kids and adults!

In addition to these two Web 2.0 activities, State is planning something big for election night…and I am not sure if I can talk about it yet. Recommendation: Stay attuned to State. They are quietly leading among Federal agencies in leveraging Web 2.0 and social media for the sake of diplomacy and international dialogue.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

State Department - Web 2.0 and the Next Generation of Diplomats

An article in today's Government Executive addresses a serious gap in the State Department's diplomatic corps:

If the State Department does not beef up its workforce, diplomatic programs will suffer and foreign policy will become more militarized, a new report warned.

"Today, significant portions of the nation's foreign affairs business simply are not accomplished," stated the report, released earlier this week by the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Stimson Center. "The work migrates by default to the military that does have the necessary people and funding, but neither sufficient experience nor knowledge. The 'militarization' of diplomacy exists and is accelerating... . The status quo cannot continue without serious damage to our vital interests." The report also studied staffing levels at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The report recommended that the State Department hire 4,735 more Foreign Service staffers and other key personnel between fiscal 2010 and 2014. New hires would be involved in core diplomatic efforts such as operating embassies and working with businesses and nongovernmental organizations abroad; engage in public diplomacy; administer economic assistance programs like those at USAID; and manage reconstruction and stabilization projects similar to ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those staffers would fill a 2008 shortfall of 2,400 employees, the authors said, and help State expand its activities while allowing more employees to receive much-needed training.

Based on a brief tour of the Internet, it appears as if State has a great start on using Web 2.0 and social media tools to attract the next generation of diplomatic staff. With this strong showing in the "wired world," State has the foundational resources in place to reach a broader, younger audience. Below is a survey of State's Web 2.0 tools and some practical suggestions for maximizing them:

1. State Department YouTube Channel: Very few government agencies have a presence on YouTube, so let's applaud State for being one of the first into this space. They have video from Secretary Rice, diplomatic efforts around the globe and even a public service announcement on illegal wildlife tracking from Indiana Jones (aka Harrison Ford):

However, one would never know they have this great resource from a review of their agency website. Recommendations: Put a prominent link to State's YouTube Channel somewhere on the home page. Create video content, such as interviews or special interest stories that feature 'legends' among the diplomatic corps. Cross-link to the DipNotes blog and Facebook pages.

2. DipNotes Blog: DipNotes is another great foray into the world of Web 2.0 for State. The blog does a great job of informing the public about important issues related to US foreign policy. It's still a bit Web 1.0 insofar as it "pushes out" information rather than interacting and collaborating with the foreign relations community or other public stakeholders. Also, DipNotes is not geared toward recruitment as it does not include information related to a career at State. Recommendations: Create a forum for public discussion about US foreign policy. Engage citizens in a conversation by asking questions on the blog and encouraging comments. Insert cross-links to the YouTube Channel to further promote awareness of State's web-based, information sharing activities. Keep rotating authors among your diplomatic corps, posting articles that emphasize their day-to-day experiences.

3. State on Facebook: One word: Wow. The State Department has no fewer than eight Facebook pages:

> Official State Department Face Book Page
> Careers
> Careers in Foreign Affairs Group (over 2,000 members!)
> Bureau of Consular Affairs
> Diplomatic Security Group
> Diplomatic Security Jobs (limited activity)
> US Embassy: Japan (packed with great information - maybe the best of the bunch!)
> US Embassy: Lebanon (not much here)
> US Embassy: Uruguay (Spanish)

In looking at the comments and discussion forums, visitors are asking excellent questions and providing information on additional Facebook pages created by embassies throughout the world. Although these sites have varying levels of content, State still gets a solid "A" for reaching out through this medium. Recommendations: Combine the duplicate Careers and Diplomatic Security sites. Make sure there are links back to DipNotes and YouTube channel. Replicate the excellent content found on the Japanese embassy page and the use of country-specific languages a la the Uruguayan embassy site. Be sure to implement the suggestions and new links from your users on your discussion forum. Some of the information was provided over two months ago and updates are not yet present.

4. Democracy Video Challenge: Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James Glassman launched the State Department’s Democracy Video Challenge on September 15 at U.N. headquarters. The contest, which asks aspiring filmmakers to complete the phrase “Democracy is …,” seeks to engage the world in sharing ideas about how democratic principles work -- or could work -- around the world. The award: a trip to the United States for gala screenings of their films and meetings with film industry professionals. Recommendations: Post the top videos on State's YouTube channel. Use these videos for a viral marketing campaign on TV and the Internet to drive people to the career Facebook page or blog. Good work having the link to the DipNotes blog on this page and providing a chance to follow DipNotes on Twitter. Also, the explanation of social networks is a nice touch.

5. DipNotes on Twitter: Basically, this Twitter presence points Tweeple to the DipNotes blog as it's updated...which seems to be almost daily. Recommendations: Encourage and promote current Foreign Service Officers to tweet appropriate activities of a daily basis. Consider rotating the people so that an individual gets a good sense of the life of an ambassador.

6. Diplopedia Wiki: From Wikipedia:
billed as the Encyclopedia of the US Department of State, Diplopedia is a wiki running on the State internal Intranet, called "OpenNet". It houses a unique collection of information pertaining to diplomacy, international relations and Department of State tradecraft. The wiki may be used by U.S. foreign affairs agencies domestic and abroad with State intranet access. It is also available to the US Intelligence community and other national-security related organizations using the Intelink-U network as a mirrored, read-only archive. Both sites are rated by the government as Sensitive but Unclassified. The wiki on either network is not open to the public. Recommendations: Keep it private and keep it going. Our national security and diplomatic effectiveness depends on it.

7. State on Flickr: In addition to having several photos on DipNotes, State has an RSS feed to photos on Flickr. Recommendations: Consider doing a mash-up with Google maps and link the photos to specific countries where the individuals are serving. Also, include photos from these places along with links to more information about those countries with an eye toward increasing public awareness about our global neighbors and our relationship with them.

8. State Podcasts: The State Deparment has a series of podcasts, including Daily Press Briefings and Top Stories, messages from Secretary Rice, Iraq: Stories of Success, The Daniel Pearl Murder, Policy Podcast, and information on the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Each of them is available in multiple RSS feed formats. Recommendations: Consider creating a series of podcast interviews with ex-pats and foreign officers living aboard to capture their experience of living beyond our borders.

What suggestions do you have for improving the State Department use of Web 2.0? I will be delivering a briefing to some State staff members next week and could provide feedback in real time. In addition, with State's significant use of several social media, the compilation of lessons learned for them could be useful for other agencies seeking to implement these tools to improve their communication with constituents and recruiting the next generation of public servants.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Guest Post at New Ideas for Government!

Wow! It's been a couple weeks since I last posted anything here. I guess I am making up for lost time by posting a couple times today.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to write an article for a website called "New Ideas for Government" that seeks to provide recommendations for the next administration. Here's an excerpt:

The 2008 presidential race has been remarkable for many reasons. One of the most intriguing aspects of the contest has been the incredible diversity reflected in the candidates and their running mates. Consider the unprecedented role of gender, race and religion. Each of these elements has been present in previous elections, but never before has there been such a unique confluence of these factors.

While these three aspects of the race have received the most press, one may contend that the election will turn on a fourth factor: age.

Please read the full article and make comments over at New Ideas. Of course, I welcome dialogue here as well.

Coast Guard Commandant: Jump into Web 2.0

In case you missed this story by Anne Laurent at Tech Insider, it's worth posting an excerpt here to spark your interest:

"The message couldn't be clearer: Coasties need to start social networking, right now! Yesterday on YouTube, in his firm, ramrod straight-arrow style, Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen ordered his entire service, and especially its leaders, to get into Web 2.0, double time."

Here's the Commandant's YouTube video:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

NYT Op-Ed: To Change Washington, Move Out

Today's Daily Pipeline by the Partnership for Public Service shares a fascinating Op-Ed from Mark Everson in the New York Times. The long and short of the article is that true change would come to Washington only if people actually left the city. With government being centralized in Washington, it creates a serious risk for security and continuity of operations. Plus, the region already has considerable wealth - why not spread those jobs to other parts of the country that could benefit from rejuvenation?

As you've seen from my posts here, I am interested in the impact of the four generations in the workforce and Web 2.0 on government. From this vantage point, Everson's proposal to restructure government by moving jobs outside of the Beltway is appealing for several reasons:

(1) As Boomers retire, they will most likely want to relocate to be closer to children and grandchildren or to work from more attractive locations. Surveys indicate that Boomers plan to cycle between work and leisure. They don't need to be in Washington to make an ongoing contribution. With a cell phone and laptop, they could be in Port Jervis, NY, Puerto Rico or Portugal.

(2) With their proficiency for using technology, Gen X and Millennials will work from anywhere. Why relocate to Washington when they can perform job functions right where they live? As someone who grew up in towns with populations under 1,000 people in Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa, I am sensitive to the fact that communities across the U.S. have experienced a "brain drain" as people like me and my former classmates left small-town life to find urban opportunities. Citizens across the country can fulfill government activities as Federal employees without being in the Washington metropolitan area. Consider: as government has outsourced functions to the private sector, contractors are most likely accomplishing the same tasks through decentralized, remote team members. Plus, decentralizing government expands and enhances the labor pool by attracting a broader (and more representative?) segment of American society.

(3) Social networks like GovLoop allow for people to connect with one another and mitigate the distance caused by geography. Not only that, but virtual worlds like Second Life and video technology offered by companies like Cisco and Tandberg will enable us to communicate with one another as if were in the same room. Granted, it's not the same thing as being live and in person, but we can approximate the experience. In addition, one might contend that the balance of work and life that emerges from teleworking situations allows people to spend more time with their families and at their schools, churches and community groups.

Those are just three reasons why I think this proposal has some validity and virtue. What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Web 2.0 Presentation for Texas State: Resource Guide

Here's the Resource Guide that I created at

I know, I know, it's too small to read's just a teaser for what you can find here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Web 2.0 Presentation for Texas State CPM

I delivered a webinar on Web 2.0 yesterday for about 15 participants in the Texas State Certified Public Manager program. If you are one of those participants (and even if you are not!), thanks for visiting my blog! The slides from the presentation are found below:

You may also read this document on Scribd: Tex State CPM - Web 2 0 - Sep 4, 2008
I am open to fielding any questions that arise after you review the slides and Resource Guide.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Boomers to Bid Goodbye in March 09 (vs. November '08)?

Last week, I suggested that the Boomers may decide to depart in droves come November. The author of the article below suggests that the real target date is March 31, 2009, and is bold enough to suggest that half of the SESers will head for the doors once the appointees are in place. What do you think? Any SES'ers out there willing to share their thoughts?

Future Shock for Fed Workforce
Federal Computer Week
By Mark Amtower

There has been much discussion during the past few years about the aging Senior Executive Service population and when the tipping point of massive migration will happen. Many people smarter than me have been addressing this issue because it is an important one.

Here's my prediction: By March 31, 2009, more than half of the current career SES population will vacate their government jobs.

The average career person in the Senior Executive Service is now age 60 or older and has more than 30 years of service, making these persons eligible for retirement. These people have put in their time and have done great service for their country when they were not impeded by Congress, earmarks, inept appointees and other unnatural disasters.

Why March 31? By then, the first wave of new presidential appointees will be moving in and flexing their authority. All the SES population has been through this process several times, and it is never painless. Why in the world would they want to go through this process again, when some new appointee is going to come in and start to tweak things to reflect the current political climate?

Trying to educate a political appointee on the nuances of an agency's mission and the best ways to fulfill it can't be fun under the best of circumstances. I would rather try to teach my pet rock a new parlor trick.

Each time I write or speak about this, I get calls and e-mail messages (from home e-mail accounts) from many senior feds telling me about various frustrations. These calls come from all over the country. They come from several layers of management, from office managers to division heads and associate assistant secretaries. The level of pain is palpable.

So what does this all mean? Agencies have made little effort to fill the ranks immediately under the SESers, and consequently there is a severe shortage of top-level career employees. That translates to inertia, which in turn means there will be agency missions unfulfilled throughout government.
So my equation looks something like this:

New political appointees plus new priorities plus aging SES community equals 50 percent fewer SESers by the end of March 2009.

And that leads to:

Agencies minus SESers equals management voids and spending delays. That is, we'll see a strange sort of work slowdown.

This will lead to a 2009 end-of-fiscal year spending spree of mythic proportion. After that, it's anyone's guess.

Not that I have an opinion.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mark Drapeau: "Eye or Pie in the Sky?"

A friend I follow on Twitter has written an excellent article regarding Government 2.0 over at Grand Central Political magazine.

An excerpt to entice you:

"As the Democratic National Convention starts in Colorado, it will likely be the most watched in history, due in no small part to media coverage. Now with Generation Y largely eligible to vote, "new media" including bloggers and online video propagandists will be detailing every bit of important news, all the mundane moments, and any juicy bits of gossip as much as the major networks and other more traditional forms of media.

The federal government itself will also be blogging."

I would encourage you to read the full article.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Boomers to Bid Goodbye in November?

I am not one for conspiracy theories, but what if the Boomers are just biding their time for a big moment when they decide to exit the workforce en masse?

What if that big moment was November 5, 2008?

Much has been made of the mass exodus of Boomers as many of them reach retirement age between now and 2015.

Surveys conducted by AARP, Merrill Lynch, and Harvard/MetLife revealed that most Boomers will not stop working completely. In fact, more than 60% said that they intend to cycle between periods of work and leisure. Two out of three respondents said they would NEVER retire. These survey results suggest that we should be cautious in making too many predictions about their career plans.

The impact of this impending departure could be even more profound in the Federal sphere where more than half of the workforce could collect their final full-time paycheck within the next 7 years. These estimates include roughly 90% of Federal executives.

But what makes this phenomenon even more intriguing for the public sector is the presidential election cycle. An article in Government Executive in May 2008 alluded to the idea that Boomers may use this moment as a good excuse to retire. Their primary reason may not be political, but practical: if you were a senior civil servant – not an appointee – would you want to weather the transition from one administration’s policies and procedures to another, especially if you had "been there, done that" several times before?

In other words, could the presidential election be a major catalyst for the much-anticipated, widespread wave of retirements from the Federal government? Are Boomers in your agencies suggesting such a change or submitting their resignations already?

Maybe we’ll have to wait until November to find out.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Government and Twitter

Just trying to capture all the Web 2.0 stuff that I find related to government. Another hat tip to Mark Drapeau for the lead on this site which highlights all the government folks on Twitter:

How about NASA for getting out in front of this trend in a big way!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

US Postal Service - Delivery Via Blog

In reading Mark Drapeau's great blogs over at Mashable, I learned that our very own U.S. Postal Service has a blog called Deliver Magazine.

Mark's articles are an excellent summary of Web 2.0 (well, as much as you can say in 1,500 words or less!)

Not much more to say on the USPS blog....just wanted to capture it here.

YouTube Channels: California and Coast Guard

In preparing for a workshop on Web 2.0 a couple weeks ago, I came across the State of California's YouTube channel. If you haven't seen it, you should check it out. The best video is below:

Guaranteed: 30 seconds that'll make you smile...not just because it's a clever video, but because it was government that was so creative.

You might also want to visit the Coast Guard's YouTube Channel. Right now, there is a Special Report that follows the Commandant. There are also inspiring videos with the Coast Guard in action - makes me want to join them! I suppose that's the point!

How does/could your agency use YouTube to deliver public service announcements or capture your employees being good stewards of our tax dollars? Do you have other examples of agencies using YouTube to deliver information and inspiration?

I'm also posting on - if you go there from here and sign up, please cite me as your referral source!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wikis and Government

I have been trying to keep track of the various wikis being used by government agencies. I just saw an article here that lists several. Of course, the article mentions well-known wikis like Intellipedia (intelligence community) and Diplopedia (State Department), but here a few that I didn't know:

OMB MAX Federal Community - open to Executive Branch personnel

OMB USAspendingGov Requirements Community - open for public comment on the Federal Funding and Transparency Act (first public comment wiki

GSA's USA Services Intergovernmental Collaborative Work Environment - See background - "incubator" collaboration space for 20 intergovernmental communities. See also the USA Services Web Managers Forum May 5-6, 2008 Annual Conference to view content rendered in the GSA wiki

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Practitioner's Handbook - viewable by the public; edited by Members of the Bar

NASA Wiki for Object Oriented Data Terminology

OMB's MAX Federal Community - Executive Branch only

GSA's Collaborative Work Environment - Incubator space only, for intergovernmental communities exploring public-facing or closed collaborative work environments

GSA's Collaborative Tool - wiki-like, collaborative environment for developing federal enterprise architecture components

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Filibuster by Twittering? Politics 2.0

There are many great stories about the use of Twitter, including someone who was sprung from jail in Egypt based on a single tweet: arrested. Now it seems that members of the U.S. House of Representatives used Twitter to inform the public about the proceedings of a debate on an energy bill last week. Here's an excerpt from an article in Computerworld:

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) posted to microblogging site Twitter at a little before noon Eastern time on Friday that the Democratic leadership had ordered the lights shut off and the C-Span cameras turned off as the House was adjourned. However, Culberson and many other Representatives stayed to debate the energy bill and protest the lack of a vote on the measure. Culberson has pioneered using Twitter to blog during debates and votes. He has noted that he uses Twitter to shine light on the floor of the U.S. house, which he describes as the "deepest and darkest hole in Congress."

These new tools continue to amaze me by their ability to transform the way we communicate with one another.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Unlikely Allies? Flickr and the Library of Congress

Check out this article regarding the Library of Congress and its use of Flickr, the online photo sharing website. Excerpt below:

When the Library of Congress began looking for ways to publicize its historical photos collections last year, it found an unlikely partner in Flickr, which created a project called "The Commons" (, where the library — and now several other institutions — have posted their public photography archives.

Six months into the project, the library has been able to update 500 photo records with new information provided by Flickr users — everything from names of people and places in photographs to specific airplane models shown in photos, says Helena Zinkham, acting chief of the Prints and Photographs Division.

The library began with two major collections: 1,500 black-and-white photos taken from 1910 to 1920 by George Grantham Bain's New York-based Bain News Service and 1,600 color shots from the Farm Service Administration/Office of War Information that were taken in the 1940s. It has since added 900 additional photos from the Bain collection.

The photos were chosen for their popularity with library visitors and the fact that they had no copyright restrictions.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Transforming Bureaucratic Cultures" Conference

Today I am posting from The Public Manager and American Society for Public Administration (ASPA)'s conference in Baltimore, MD - dubbed "Transforming Bureaucratic Cultures: Challenges and Solutions for Public Management Practitioners." The conference has featured six tracks: performance, accountability, human capital, technology, communication and governance. Thought leaders from across government, industry, and academia have gathered to explore the emerging trends that are shaping the public sector. Perhap this event will become an annual forum that generates an agenda with tangible action items that lead to true transformation.

About 30-35 participants attended a workshop that I delivered yesterday entitled "Avatars and Blogs and Wikis: How Web 2.0 is Transforming Government." If you're coming here from there, welcome! Here are a copy of the slides for your review. We defined Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, podcasting, social virtual networking sites, YouTube and Second Life. I provided several examples of government agencies (Federal, state and local) that are using these tools and participants shared experiences from their agencies. Discussion of each tool culminated in a real-time demonstration (in 5 steps/5 minutes or less!) of the ease with which an agency may implement these Web 2.0 technologies to exchange knowledge with their constituents and one another.

I would encourage you to participate in the discussion forum on GovLoop related to Web 2.0 and government. (I still need to contribute to the conversation myself!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Military and Web 2.0: Falling Behind and Thriving?

In two separate articles last week, our Armed Forces received a mixed review on their use of Web 2.0 tools:

The first article, Army Secretary: We're Falling Behind, declares:

"Senior Army leaders have fallen behind the breakneck development of cheap digital communications including cell phones, digital cameras and Web 2.0 Internet sites such as blogs and Facebook, Army Secretary Pete Geren said at a trade conference on July 10. That helps explain how "just one man in a cave that's hooked up to the Internet has been able to out-communicate the greatest communications society in the history of the world -- the United States," Geren said, according to Inside Defense."

The second article, U.S. Air Force Lets Web 2.0 Flourish Behind Walls, applauds the Air Force:

The U.S. Air Force is using Web 2.0 technologies to better support its missions despite wariness about security, a civilian technology official of the service said last week. The new techniques, including blogs, wikis and personal profiles, are coming out of an initiative by Air Force Knowledge Now (AFKN), a resource provided on the Department of Defense (DOD) intranet. They're helping service members and civilian employees find the information they need more quickly and are now being shared with members of the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines…

I also recently read an article in which the Intelligence Community has created something akin to YouTube for spies. I will blog more about government use of YouTube soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Overcoming an Unexpected Challenge: Telework and Knowledge Transfer Across Generations

I am a telework advocate.

In fact, I am a full-time teleworker that happens to be developing a 3-hour training workshop that motivates Federal managers to give their employees the chance to work remotely (and to telework themselves!).

As I have been preparing this course, I have delved into the diverse issues that prevent managers from implementing telework with their teams. You know the psychological barriers: distrust, information security concerns, perceived favoritism and the potential for reduced productivity. I hope the workshop is able to address these issues successfully and embolden managers to take the plunge into the world of telework.

There is one issue that I had not considered: the connection between telework and knowledge transfer. Last week, I was talking with an employee from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an agency that has taken the lead in implementing telework among Federal agencies since many tasks lend themselves to offsite accomplishment.

This young professional indicated that many of the more seasoned public servants at USPTO are taking advantage of the opportunity to telework. According to him, the agency's telework policy requires an employee to have a certain level of tenure (5 years?) before s/he may be considered for telework.

Now here's where it gets interesting. Apparently, a dynamic has developed where the knowledgeable, long-term personnel are not present in the office consistently as a result of telework schedules. Their experience and expertise is greatly needed and sorely missed. The younger or less experienced employees could benefit from the insight of their time-tested colleagues...but are finding it hard to connect with them due to the distance created by telework.

As a result of the steep learning curve associated with some positions, coupled with this disconnect, my friend suggested that there are some retention issues with new hires. Take a look at this article which substantiates this claim. Here's an excerpt:

"...from the beginning of fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2006, USPTO hired 3,672 patent examiners. However, the patent examination workforce only increased by 1,644 because 1,643 patent examiners left the agency and 385 patent examiners were either transferred or promoted out of the position of patent examiner. Approximately 70% of the patent examiners who left the agency had been at USPTO for less than 5 years, and nearly 33% had been at the agency for less than 1 year."

The article also provides some informationa about their telework program:

"In fiscal year 2006, approximately 20% of patent examiners participated in the agency's telework program, which allows patent examiners to conduct some or all of their work away from their official duty station 1 or more days a week. In addition, when USPTO began a "hoteling" program in fiscal year 2006, approximately 10% of patent examiners participated in the program, which allows some patent examiners to work from an alternative location."

These percentages of teleworkers would not seem to be a problem, depending on the number of days that people are teleworking. Yet my source may be on to something.

PLEASE NOTE: I am not saying that this challenge is insurmountable. To the contrary, I am hoping to advocate for some solutions (and elicit your ideas!). Also, I am not picking on USPTO. I think this issue may be arising in other agencies and serves as a case study to address what could be a common concern. In fact, I may incorporate this scenario into the course so that managers can create some positive responses.

Below are my initial thoughts:

1. Coach/Mentor Program: Maybe USPTO has a coaching or mentoring program already. If so, this program could be adapted to ensure that new employees are interacting with their well-weathered senior examiners. If not, it would be a great place to start.

2. Survey of New Hires: One obvious and easy way to learn about the needs of new hires is to conduct a survey to find out what they would require to learn the job more rapidly. A quick and efficient way of conducting a survey is to use an online tool like Survey Monkey or Zoomerang. Results are compiled automatically so there's no need for number crunching. Make it short and sweet to increase the number of respondents.

3. Web 2.0 Tools: Why not create a wiki or a blog where senior patent examiners can share tricks of the trade in one location? How about creating a series of podcasts, videos or web-based tutorials that new hires can download to their iPods, MP3 players or phones in order to listen while commuting to work? What about creating a Facebook page where employees can create a sense of community and feel connected to one another despite the distance imposed by telework?

Telework and knowledge transfer need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, one might contend that these unexpected challenges are causing all of us to stretch and explore new ways of working together. Telework is and should become more prevalent for a number of reasons. The knowledge of a previous generation will always be passed to the next. We just need to be creative in discovering how to overcome the obstacles to successful communication in a web-based world that affords the advantage of arrangements like telework.

Monday, July 14, 2008

GovLoop! The Feds are Connecting!

So I was browsing around at The Collaboration Project, another great Web 2.0 experiment of government, when I saw this little logo that intrigued me:

With 282 members and rising, it's the brand new, little-known "premiere social network connecting the government community." I am hoping that by posting a link here, I can lend my energy to expand its reach.

If you are coming here from there, please enjoy the information that I am compiling in my little corner of the web.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Social Virtual Networking - The Business Case

Many managers are skeptical, if not resistant to the use of social networks like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and the like. The article below says it makes good business sense:

An excerpt:

"As the CEO of a technology company with a workforce mostly under 40, I also questioned whether I should ignore it, prohibit it or encourage it. Eventually, I concluded that I need to encourage it, even embrace it. Tools are emerging that enable businesses to leverage social networks for online training and learning -- giving companies a compelling way to bring social networks into the workplace fold."

Or as the Borg (no, I am not a Trekkie) says:

"Resistance is futile."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Survey Says: Gen Y Wants Web 2.0 Tools!!!

An article in NextGov today indicates that: "A recently released survey shows that Generation Y prefers to connect with government online in an interactive manner similar to the way they seek out news and other information."

The article concludes with the following observation:

"IT specialists say the survey's findings are further evidence of government's need to provide more 2.0-style interactive tools online. Web 2.0 refers to the evolution of the Internet from a browse-and-download format to a two-way, collaborative conversation."

You can find the actual survey results here.

By the way, I just reviewed the MeriTalk website and will provide a more thorough review in the next few days...they are onto something over there. I provided a link to the website in the right column here under "Studying the Shift."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Boomers Eligible, But Not Really Retiring

Two out of three Boomers say that they may never retire.

Another 60% plan to cycle between periods of work and relaxation.

Surveys conducted by MetLife, Harvard and AARP offer us these statistics. In the Federal sector, although nearly 1 million Boomers are eligible to retire between now and 2016, the impending tsunami may not be the crisis that we envision.

In fact, an article in the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal reinforces the notion that Boomers won't really retire...that they have several reasons for staying versus starting a life of leisure.

Warning to Gen X and Millennials: if you intend to move into vacated positions sometime soon, you had better begin to learn from the people that plan to return to the office after submitting their formal resignation. Although Boomers may not remain on the full-time payroll, they will be sticking around in other ways...which just may be a benefit to you and your organization.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Facebook's Increasing Prominence

In the last week alone, I have learned about four situations where Facebook is being used as a forum for information distribution:

1. National Highway Institute: A training officer from NHI attended my "Wikis and Webcasts and iPods" presentation at the TOC Institute back in April. Within a month, they created DOT's first presence on Facebook.

2. Department of Labor: I was giving a presentation for the Industry Action Council last Thursday and learned that a group of interns at the Department of Labor decided to create a Facebook page to organize their communication and networking over the summer and beyond. In fact, I spoke with three of them today and found out that they are conducting a survey among the Millenial interns...stay tuned.

3. American Red Cross: According to the article: "Facebook is but one of the Web 2.0 and social media tools the nonprofit is relying on to help relay information to storm victims and Red Cross volunteers in areas affected by the natural disasters."

4. American Federation of Government Executives: AFGE produced MySpace and Facebook pages to educate young voters about their rights. "College students will account for a large portion of the voting population this election year. Most of them are new voters, making them easy to deceive," said Andrea Brooks, national vice president of Women's and Fair Practices. "It is our objective to have more of these students successfully cast a ballot."

Every week, more and more organizations are waking up to the possibilities of Web 2.0.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Presentation: Graduate School, USDA Evening/Weekend Faculty (Welcome!)


I just finished sharing the "Wikis and Webcasts and iPods, Oh My!" with about 25-30 faculty members that instruct for the Graduate School, USDA. If you are one of them, I want to say 'thank you' again for attending the presentation! I hope that you learned something new. If you haven't used one of the Web 2.0 tools before, I also hope that it inspired you to have the "courage" to explore!

As you can see on the right column of this page, I have posted the presentation slides - they are essentially the same slides that I used today....although I originally presented the content to a group of Federal training officers, so the Resource Guide is directed more toward that target audience.

You may find the Resource Guide that I provided to you this morning at the following link:


Also, feel free to send me an email or make a comment on this post or the presentation below.

Thanks again for attending...I enjoyed our time together and hope that you did, too!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Study: Four-Day Work Week is Optimal

I have seen a few different stories about this study by a couple Brigham Young researchers. It seems that a four-day work week led to a 60% increase in productivity and customers reported better service. The employees liked it better, too!

Then the article makes the connection to the next generation of employees:

(Professor Rex) Facer said the so-called millennial generation, which is now entering the workforce, is very interested in having their time to themselves. Older generations perceived certain times during the week as work time, regardless of whether a family event was happening at the same time. The millennial generation, on the other hand, is more likely to take off time during the day for a child's baseball game or take off a Friday for family time.

"They have a very different expectation than did older generations on the separation of work and family," Facer said.

Many government agencies already allow employees to work according to 4 days/10 hour per week 'flex-time' arrangements. This study lends strong support for the idea.

Look out! Once Gen X and Millenials take over the reins, all of us may enjoy three-day weekends!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Millennials and Web 2.0 - Tech Savvy? Not So Fast

Millennials may not be as tech savvy as you think.

Two weeks ago, while attending my younger brother's undergraduate commencement activities, I had a chance to interview him and six friends (all in their early 20s) about Web 2.0 tools.

"Isn't Twitter the greatest?!" I exclaimed.

Met with blank stares, I realized they required some explanation. "You know, it's like being able to text to a bunch of people all at once. One guy even used it to get out of jail in Egypt." They weren't moved by my enthusiasm.

"Okay, so what about Second Life? Surely, you all have avatars."

Again, they looked at me as if I had arrived from another dimension. "It's a virtual world that you and others create," I explained. "It's like living in a video game that is being updated continuously."

By now, I realized that this crowd was not easy to impress. In fact, their response to Second Life was not amazement, but angst. They wondered why someone would want to engage in another existence when real life posed enough problems.

Undeterred, I gave one last example: "Do you have profiles on LinkedIn? I mean, now that you are graduating and looking for jobs, it's a no brainer that you're taking advantage of this tremendous networking tool."

Strike 3. Not one of them had heard of LinkedIn, much less sought to expand their online Rolodex. Good thing I didn't use the word Rolodex either.

This encounter with one group of Millennials further reinforced my conviction that we need to be careful about categorizing an entire generation. It also adds to the idea that the newest generation is much more diverse than it predecessors due, in part, to the rapid changes brought about by the Web.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Young Government Employees and Technology


After a 2-week hiatus (vacation and conference), I'm glad to be back on the blogosphere.

If you are visiting this site for the first time after attending my presentation at the ASTD International Conference: WELCOME! I hope that this website serves as a valuable resource to extend our learning and interaction beyond the one-time event.

Today's story comes from Federal Computer Week:

Young people and technology at the Government Leadership Summit

An excerpt:

"Although we talked a bit about collaboration tools and about blogs, most of the energy, including from the audience, was around social-networking sites such as Facebook. We talked mostly about how the participants themselves used technology, a little about how their agencies did so.

I give the exact ages of the participants because one of the most interesting things to come out of the panel is that there are big differences among different micro age-groups of young people (although to older folks they may seem like an undifferentiated mass). When you think about this, it should hardly be surprising, given how fast technologies are changing."


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Featured in T+D Magazine

Forgive me!

I forgot to provide a link to a recent article where I was featured in the April issue of T+D Magazine, the trade journal for the American Society for Training and Development. By the way, the picture of the guy in the article - it's not me.

I am delivering an abbreviated version of my "Generation Shift" presentation at ASTD's International Conference and Expo in San Diego the week of June 1-4. If you happen to be attending the conference, my presentation is on Wednesday, June 4 at 8:00 a.m.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Fellow "GenerationXpert"

As I was poking around some websites over the last few days, I spent the most time at and around While viewing a story about working from home, I noticed a blog response from Suzanne Kart, who goes by the moniker "GenerationXpert." I followed the trail to her blog: She shares my interest in the generations in the workforce and Web 2.0 tools, spending a bit more time exploring the marketing characteristics of each generation. I hope that you take a look.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Millennial Marketer

Is your organization striving to recruit Millennials? Well you might want to learn from one of their own. Meet Jeff Taylor, the Millennial Marketer.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

DHS Joins Virtual World

From Anne Laurent at The Agile Mind Blog yesterday:


The Homeland Security Department is joining the military services, intelligence community and a growing number of other agencies in the virtual world.

The National Guard plans to hold large-scale training exercises using the platform, in which people are represented by avatars and locations are modeled as generic town squares, where building and street signs change....the DHS virtual classroom will allow real-time communications via Voice over Internet Protocol, instant messaging and exchange of presentations, documents and other materials.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Feds Turning to Online Tools to Capture Knowledge

Here's a great article from the Federal Times:

An excerpt:

Federal agencies are increasingly turning to online technology to hold on to the decades of knowledge that baby boomers will take with them as they retire in coming years. Officials fear that without robust knowledge-retention programs, agencies will lose details of their histories, or forget how certain programs worked and be doomed to repeat past mistakes.

Officials say videos, articles, blogs and other information programs posted on the Internet or intranets are the best way to efficiently pass that information on to younger employees. Knowledge stored online can be accessed at any time and any place — removing the need for employees to travel to hear lectures — and can reach more people than one-on-one mentoring relationships can, they say.

Monday, May 12, 2008

88% of Millennials Support Public Service Academy

A new study conducted by SocialSphere and sponsored by the McCormick Tribune Foundation reveals strong support among Millennials for a U.S. Public Service Academy.

The Public Service Academy is an idea of two Gen X'ers to create the civilian equivalent of the military academies - an undergraduate institution where students attend for free in exchange for a specified period of service in the public sector.

The idea benefits every generation, encouraging Millennials to consider a career in public service and offering Gen X'ers and Boomers a forum to share their experience and expertise with their successors.