Monday, April 27, 2009

Why Can't We All Just Get Along? Four Generations Working Side by Side in Harmony

Two years ago, I delivered a presentation at the Training Officer's Consortium (TOC) Institute that eventually became the title of this blog: Generation Shift. Afterward, a highly respected trainer (Jean Palmer) who had taught the same subject for years approached me and provided some sincere compliments. In response, I asked her if she would be my mentor.

Fast forward to January 2009 and I invited Jean to co-present on the subject with the goal of representing two different generations in order to bring greater value to the audience. I shared my vision for reviewing four common conflicts using several unique teaching modalities. She agreed and we shaped a workshop that included the following conflicts and delivery modes:

1. Finding Information - presented via role play by Jean and I, reprising our first planning session which found Jean focusing on books and papers and me looking for content on the Internet via my laptop.

2. Getting Together: Then we asked the audience to assemble in teams of four to engage in a role play. Each quad received four different descriptions of an employee's response to meetings based on common generational differences.

3. Communicating Effectively: We played a clip from "The Office" that highlights several gaffes caused by generational dynamics at work. Check out the video and draw your own conclusions about potential pitfalls.

4. Deciding Where and When to Work: I brought my boss into the mix by connecting with him via Web-based platform called GS Connect. He appeared by video on the screen as we staged a "typical" conversation in which I asked for permission to work from the beach while on vacation.

All in all, the audience loved it and left wanting more time to discuss the scenarios. Jean and I had a ton of fun in the process of designing and delivering the training.

Here are the slides in case you are interested:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A New Convert to the Goverati: @NenaMoss

Last week, I participated in the Gov 2.0 Boot Camp in Knoxville, TN, delivering a presentation on "Social Virtual Networks and Government." A couple days after the event, I received a social media presenter's greatest reward: an unexpected tweet from a Twitter newbie.

Nena Moss had officially joined the ranks of the Goverati. Moreover, she had joined GovLoop and...well, let me allow her to tell you about her move to a new level of social media engagement:

1. What is your position and the activities that you perform for your job?

I wear two hats: Web Developer at the US Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) and Program Manager for NCI Information Systems, Inc. My web focus is on developing standard and accessible web pages that contribute to OSTI’s mission of broadly sharing scientific research with DOE researchers and the public.

2. What had been your experience with social media - personally or professionally - prior to the Gov 2.0 Boot Camp?

I’m a member of OSTI’s Web 2.0 Innovation team, charged with vetting Web 2.0 capabilities such as wikis, widgets, social media design, RSS monitoring, and mobile computing. These capabilities support OSTI’s vision for accelerating science by speeding access to science information. My experience includes widget and RSS development and Facebook and blogging participation.

3. What were your concerns or fears about using some of the social media tools?

I’m concerned with personal privacy and with accessibility of social media tools for persons with disabilities. I very much enjoyed Linda Cureton’s (CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) statements at Web 2.0 Government Boot Camp about common sense relative to privacy: if you are going to use social media, be careful about what you share. As to accessibility issues, I have found that many applications can be accessible for users of screen readers. On Twitter, I’m following the experts at who provide training and resources to promote web accessibility.

4. What did you hear during the workshop sessions that motivated you to expand your engagement with social media and get started at GovLoop and Twitter (and other places, if applicable)?

I saw the potential of Web 2.0 applications in new ways. In fact, I had not considered using Twitter in my professional life, until I saw your overview – Social Virtual Networking. I’m definitely a member of Generation C: “Someone of any age who is actively using social media and engaging others on the Internet with a ‘2.0’ mindset: creative, collaborative and community oriented.” Boot Camp provided great examples of the collaborative possibilities of Twitter, the communities of Facebook, and the shared information found in virtual networks, such as Virtual Alabama. We were also introduced to tools such as Sketchup and TweetDeck.

5. You mentioned that you were already seeing the benefits - can you tell me more about that statement.

Through Twitter, I quickly connected with experts and found resources. One of our younger staff members joined Twitter the day after Boot Camp and invited me to join. I searched Twitter for my favorite experts in the fields of web accessibility, usability, and standards. As soon as I found Jared Smith and Jon Whiting from WebAIM, I came across new information for my craft – a most interesting survey of screen reader users.

What better way to find new information than to follow the thoughts of experts in the field? This is just one example of the connection and collaboration possible through social networks.

6. How/Do you plan to use these tools for your individual, professional activity?

A search of Twitter tags for #earthday produced “trusted content” for a feature on ScienceLab, OSTI’s site for students and educators. That gave a practical meaning to “trusted search”, a term used at Boot Camp. This efficient use of Twitter will become part of my development process.

I will continue to ‘follow’ experts in Twitter to glean information on the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which I plan to summarize and share with OSTI product managers.

7. How do you envision using these tools to improve organizational processes or activities?

OSTI has an interest in social media policy across the federal government. GovLoop will become one of our resources for policy discussions and information from the government community.

OSTI is already using an internal blog to share social media news and vet new applications. Boot Camp prompted me to consider writing an internal blog for NCI staff, providing direct access to forms and policy, in addition to providing opportunity for commenting.

8. Anything else that you'd like to share that may help others to begin using social media?

Government 2.0 Boot Camp discussions included information about ideas “going viral.” Our experiences with search widgets, an OSTI Facebook page, and most recently with Twitter, illustrate viral development on a small scale. The Internet is becoming a more connected and interactive place. Social networking applications will enhance government efficiency and productivity.

THANK YOU, Nena, for sharing your thoughts with us! And welcome to the Goverati!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Twitter and Iraq: A Counterinsurgency to Paul Carr's Cynicism

In an article entitled "How Twitter is going to save Iraq. I mean Ir@. Not.", Paul Carr of the Guardian shares his cynical view regarding social media's ability to improve the situation in Iraq. His essay was sparked by the fact that several tech execs from Google, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress, MeetUp and more are in Iraq right now as part of a delegation to explore potential new media solutions. Carr lays out a satirical sequence of events that could emerge in an "iRaq 2.0." Below are a few examples (that, I must admit, had me laughing at times):

December 2009: Iraq holds its first truly democratic online elections with voters invited to Digg up or down a list of 10 candidates representing politicians from across the country's political spectrum.

March 2010: Iraq hosts its first Tweetup, in a bar just outside the Green Zone. The mood is soured when the attendees are twurdered by a twuicide bomber.

May 2010: A new breed of web 2.0 kidnappers begins to emerge, threatening to disrupt the traditional kidnapping industry. Rather than following a ransom model, the new kidnappers release hostages for free, asking only for their name and email address in return. Despite having no revenue strategy whatsoever, market leader Kidnappr quickly signs up over 4 million hostages after ├╝ber-bloggers Robert Scoble and iJustine appear in promotional videos, pleading for their lives.

October 2010: AOL buys Kidnappr for $850m.

May 2011: Iraq publishes its crowdsourced constitution. Controversial additions soon follow, including the first amendment which is simply the word "first!" and a freedom of speech amendment which, curiously, is closed to commenters.

October 2011: Crowdsourced constitution is deleted after editors decide that it doesn't meet the international community's notability guidelines. Pages dedicated to fictional characters from obscure graphic novels remain.

Satire aside, Carr's comments beg the question: can the deployment of social media/Web 2.0 solutions produce a positive impact in Iraq?

I think the answer is in the affirmative and I'd like to marshall the "goverati" in creating a counter-argument. For starters, here are three potential solutions:

1. Check out the Top Fifteen Projects that were selected as part of the 2008 USAID Development 2.0 Challenge that elicited feedback on potential mobile solutions for global development. Certainly, there are possibilities for application in Iraq, like QuestionBox (democratizing information and new for the illiterate, poor and unconnected), RESDIDA (mobile content distribution platform to scale organizations' reach to the poor) and Ushahidi (mobile crisis reporting).

2. Can something like Apps for Democracy work in a place like Iraq? Carr mocks a crowd-sourced Constitution, but why can't the citizens of Iraq participate in something akin to a We the People Wiki or create a "Baghdad Pedestrian" built upon the D.C. Pedestrian app. They can build it. We can help.

3. Something as simple as a YouTube channel with videos about Iraq that educates U.S. citizens about a nation where we have channeled so many resources could go a long way toward generating support for a more diplomatic approach to relations as we draw down troops over the next several months. The Multi-National Force-Iraq has just such a presence on YouTube with the express purpose of giving "viewers around the world a 'boots on the ground' perspective of Operation Iraqi Freedom from those who are most closely involved."

As a caveat, I want to grant the fact that Internet usage in Iraq is extremely low with most people connecting at Internet cafes. Nonetheless, now is the time to be brainstorming possibilities - the point of providing access to Iraq for some of the smartest tech gurus in America.

It's time to muster the mensch - the "do-gooder" Goverati - to collaboratively counter Carr's pessimism about the potential for new media to re-build Iraq.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Greatest Reward of Speaking/Training

I just received this tweet a couple minutes ago. The "Boot Camp" to which Nena's referring is the Government 2.0 Boot Camp in Knoxville, TN, where I spent the past two days.

QUICK UPDATE: Later on, I asked Nena for a few specifics related to the benefits. Here's what she said:

There is no greater reward for a speaker/trainer than when a participant shares this kind of feedback. Do you want to talk about ROI? Now that's immediate return on information sharing.

Thank YOU, Nena. You've just energized me for another six months.

P.S. More forthcoming on the event. In the meantime, you may want to check out #gov20boot for the Twitter proceedings.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Social Media and Air Force: New eBook/Video

I just learned from @AFPAA and @dmscott that the Air Force has released a new ebook and video. For your convenience, I have posted them below...but want to give due credit to David Meerman Scott for a great blog post as well. The guide's stated purpose is to provide "Air Force Public Affairs professionals with basic new media knowledge needed to maneuver in the online information battlespace...This is not a comprehensive guide for conducting new media campaigns. It provides exposure to entry-level tools Airmen may use to communicate the Air Force story to broader audiences on the Web."

Click on the image above for the ebook. The video is below:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Government and Social Virtual Networking - Not Just for Kids (Anymore!)

Here's a sneak peek at my slide deck for the Government 2.0 Boot Camp in Knoxville, TN. I am actually leaving for the airport in a couple minutes, but wanted to post them so folks could have access in advance. More about the event over the next two days.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Something In Common with Jack Dorsey (Twitter Creator)

Well, I guess I'm in good company. Jack Dorsey says that Twitter began with his mother. In my presentation on social media measurement, I give all due credit to mom as well. Here's Jack describing how he created Twitter:

Jack Dorsey Presents Twitter from biz stone on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Measuring Gov 2.0 (Via Web 1.0): Forrester

In two previous posts (Brookings and Foresee), I have explored common methods for measuring websites in a Web 1.0 world in order to find applicability for Web 2.0. Essentially, I am providing a summary in order to educate myself and share that knowledge acquisition with personnel from government agencies and other organizations that are beginning to think about social media metrics and analytics. Each of these measurement methods are included in a presentation that Ari Herzog and I delivered at the "Social Media for Government" conference a few weeks ago.

Another way that an organization may analyze its website is by using the “Web Site Review Scorecard 7.0” developed by Forrester Research, Inc. As a quick aside, I owe Alan Webber, formerly a government website reviewer with Forrester who is launching his own venture (called Ronin Research Group), my appreciation for reviewing this summary of Forrester's review methods.

Whereas ForeSee directly asks customers to complete a survey, Forrester engages an expert in an evaluation of a website using a scorecard review instrument. The expert assumes the role of the customer vs. being the customer him/herself. Technically, its a "heuristic evaluation," which is a review of the user experience in light of acknowledged usability principles.

The scorecard begins by asking an organization to articulate their “evaluated user goals” to ground the review in a set of clearly defined outcomes. With this foundation, each review question is scored on a -2 to +2 scale:

• 2 = Strong Pass (Best practice)
• 1 = Pass (No problems found)
• -1 = Fail (One major problem or several minor problems
• -2 = Two or more major programs, or one major problem and several minor problems

The scorecard then asks several questions related to four elements. There are specific criterion under each question that results in a score. A score of 25 (+1 on each criteria) being a pass). The elements and some of their associated questions are found below:

• Is essential content available where needed?
• Is essential function available where needed?
• Are essential content and function given priority in the display?

• Do menu categories immediately expose or describe their subcategories?
• Is the wording in hyperlinks and controls clear and informative?
• Are keyword-based searches comprehensive and precise?

• Does the site use graphics, icons, and symbols that are easy to understand?
• Do layouts use space effectively?
• Are interactive elements easily recognizable and behave as expected?

• Does the site present privacy and security policies in context?
• Does site functionality provide clear feedback in response to user actions?
• Does the site help users avoid and recover from errors?

The review scorecard is a bit more comprehensive, and presents yet another way of thinking about an organization’s Web presence. Per Forrester’s own description of the review, it “uncovers flaws that prevent users from accomplishing key goals on Web sites….To get the most out of the Web Site Review, site owners should identify user goals that drive business metrics, review their sites using the tools available on Forrester's Web site, and fix usability problems identified in the review.”

So what are the implications and applications for Government and Web 2.0?

A. Agencies may consider gaining a combination of feedback from both end users (ForeSee) and experts (Forrester). Alan suggested that "agencies should use multiple paths, including detailed analytics, usability reviews, user feedback" - much of which can be done internally.

B. Forrester has a Blog Review tool that is accessible to their clients. Agencies who happen to be current Forrester clients may want to examine this review tool and conduct their own analysis if they currently use blogs to communicate with citizens.

C. Consider how some of the questions above apply to social media in evaluating the placement of social media tools on your agency's website. Under "Value": Where should you place a video or RSS stream in light of its relative importance to your goals and objectives in communicating with constituents? Under "Presentation": Are you using only the icon of a Delicious or Twitter link rather than spelling out a description of that tool? We cannot assume that our end users know how to navigate a page adeptly or understand what these icons represent.

D. Start with the end in mind. Once your agency has decided to launch a social media tool, use the four Forrester elements and ask again: "How does the use of this tool on our website or elsewhere on the Web connect to our mission, goals and objectives?" That's where Forrester starts its evaluation - with the "why". So should you.

Measuring Web 2.0 (Via Web 1.0):