New Media = Good Government (?)

posted by Claire B. Rubin

Your Pass To Good Government, Newsweek, August 16. The byline to this article is:  “Skip the lines, forget about bribes. E-gov gives anyone with  a web connection direct access to public services.”

The assumption that the speed of the message/request arriving via new digital media will be matched by the speed of the response or delivery of services is, in my view, a serious mistake.  The ability of government agencies to collect, analyze and act on requests arriving via new media is no greater than it was via the traditional means. It might even be slower, since agency personnel need to monitor additional new media to collect the requests.

2 responses to “New Media = Good Government (?)

  1. Those of us who grew up in the mass media era tend to assume a nexus, or at least a congruence, between media and government. That made sense in a mass media world, and the first-generation Web was similarly centralist. But are social media necessarily as good a fit for government agencies? I’m not sure that’s guaranteed.

    The essence of social media is precisely that they don’t rely on centralized “content providers” but rather count on individual members to create content themselves. That strikes me as potentially good news for broad-based resilience, but not automatically so auspicious for existing central agencies. Certainly the current focus on governmental data-mining of social media strikes me as an implicit admission that, so far at least, officialdom is standing outside looking in.

    So is “how can official agencies use the social media” really the right question? Or might it be more useful to ask “what are the ramifications for official agencies in an age of social media?”

  2. Excellent points. We need to keep these issues in mind. In my view, there are too many cheerleaders pushing the use of social media and too few people considering the ramifications.

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