August 29, 2011 •
Another way to contact your lawmaker.
While social media has offered a new medium for constituents to interact with their legislators, it is very rare to receive a detailed, satisfying response from their representatives.
OpenCongress.org added a new feature to their website about a month ago that allows users to send letters to their representatives. While it is definitely not guaranteed that you will receive a response, a blog post by Donny Shaw shows 9 examples of the 1,500+ letter submissions made on the new feature, 2 of which received responses.
While this does not prove that this platform is the key to easy communication between the public and their representatives, it is yet another step taken in response to the Open Government Initiative that is making interaction between every day citizens and law-makers a possibility.
August 26, 2011 •
Salt Lake City 311 App Allows Citizens to Make Reports From Their Phones
A new 311 smart phone app for Salt Lake City, Utah allows a citizen to take a geo-coded picture with his or her smartphone and enter more detailed information about the problem. In response to the citizen’s entry, a real-time case is created that’s sent directly to the staff person who will handle the situation.
According to this article on GovTech, the app called Salt Lake City 311 transmits the request to the city’s GIS database, which then provides an address match for the city responder to answer the notification personally, with no middleman in between.
This app streamlines the process of fieldworkers responding to calls, as well as creating a convenient and easy way for everyday citizens to report problems.
This kind of 311 app is something that is likely to be seen in many other municipalities across the nation in the near future.
August 25, 2011 •
Romney Strategist Is Responsible For @CrazyKhazei
Another example of mock Twitter accounts similar to the ones discussed in yesterday’s blog post popped up today.
Eric Fehrnstrom, a strategist for Mitt Romney and Senator Scott Brown, admitted in an email to the Boston Globe that he was the one responsible for the mock Twitter account @CrazyKhazei which produces satirical tweets at the expense of Brown’s 2012 opponent, Alan Khazei.
An example of a tweet posted on this Twitter account read:
Hiring my brother at my charity was not a conflict of interest. It was an act of kindness.
Unlike many political figures who have been targeted by fake Twitter profiles and don’t seem to be especially bothered by the account, the Khazei campaign reacted angrily to the allegations, calling on Brown to denounce the tactics, close the Twitter account, and apologize.
Read more about this in the article posted by TheHill, “Brown adviser admits to running Twitter account mocking Democratic opponent“.
August 25, 2011 •
A Few Good Articles on Social Media
For those of you who may have missed some of today’s relevant social media articles, here’s a few for you to check out!
- The Environmental Protection Agency is challenging the public to help develop apps that utilize EPA data in unique ways in their Apps for the Environment challenge, with a deadline of September 16th. EPA App Challenge Article
- The Government Business Council is looking for input from the public concerning mobile phone apps and how they could be used in the federal government and corresponding agencies. Mobile apps are changing government: Tell us how
- Are you social media savvy? The Obama re-election campaign is hiring “social media copywriters”. Obama Campaign Seeking Social Media Staffers
- A former advisor for President Obama suggested that the real key to open government is for governments to compete for openness. Using Technology to Open Government Should Be a Competition
I hope you find these interesting. Enjoy!
August 24, 2011 •
Twitter Accounts Created to Mock Prominent Figures
According to an article on the LasVegasSun, mock Twitter accounts are being created for the sole purpose of impersonating political figures. Some creators are looking to entertain, while others have a more ambitious goal of influencing the outcome of an election.
One prominent example @BPGlobalPR, a satirical mock account that was created soon after the BP oil spill, has accumulated thousands more followers than the actual BP Corporate Twitter page.
Many political figures in Nevada such as U.S. Rep. Dina Titus and Republican congressional candidate Mark Amodei have also been victims of less prominent mock Twitter accounts that focus on topics such as Rep. Dina’s accent and Amodei being lazy.
Most targeted politicians don’t seem too bothered by their Twitter alter-egos, but Tracy Viselli, a social media expert advises that if these alter-egos accumulate more followers than the candidate’s offical page to consider possibly acknowledging and engaging the impersonator, but do so carefully.
Read the full article by Anjeanette Damon, “Fake Twitter accounts force their way onto political landscape“.
August 24, 2011 •
“Retweet” is one of the newest additions to the OED
Social media has become such a huge part of our culture that terms such as “retweet” and “cyberbullying” have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
According to a blog post by Oxford Dictionaries , every quarter they update the current English dictionary in Oxford Dictionaries Online with new words and meanings that have made it into common usage. With over 750 million Facebook users and over 200 million Twitter members, its no surprise that such social media specific terms are considered relevant to every day conversation.
As defined by the OED, a retweet is:
verb [with object]: (on the social networking service Twitter) repost or forward (a message posted by another user)
noun: a reposted or forwarded message on Twitter
“Retweet” is not the first nor likely the last social media term to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
August 23, 2011 •
Open Government Websites Need Revamped
In a time of increasing austerity in the government, we are also experiencing an increasing demand for many government services.
While most agency websites have made it increasingly possible for the public to participate on their websites since President Obama’s Open Government Initiative was launched, an industry report released August 22 asserts that much more research needs to be done for these agencies to make sure that they are providing opportunities for quality public participation and to better be able to measure the impact this participation has on their agency.
August 19, 2011 •
New Developments in Mobile Apps by the States
Arkansas, for example, created an app that allows the families and friends of incarcerated individuals to make secure payments into the inmates’ accounts, as well as creating an app that allows hunters to register deer and turkeys they have killed.
Many other states such as Indiana, Minnesota, and New York have released a variety of useful apps for services ranging from school bus inspections to lake safety.
Read “Mobile Apps are Reshaping Government Services and Operations” by Joseph Marks on NextGov.com which addresses these state government apps in more depth.
August 18, 2011 •
Freeze on new federal websites will continue through this calendar year
When President Obama launched his Campaign to Cut Waste back in June, the White House also enacted a freeze on new federal websites meaning no one can get a new one without a written waiver from the federal CIO.
In an article posted on ExecutiveGov when the freeze first began, there were nearly 2,000 top-level, federal .gov domains, with smaller sub-sites and microsites adding up to an estimated 24,000 websites “of varying purpose, design, navigation, usability and accessibility.”
A more recent article, “No New Fed Websites for Rest of This Year“, confirms that a memo on behalf of the new federal CIO, Steve VanRoekel, said that the freeze on new federal websites will continue through the remainder of this calendar year.
Read the full memo here.
August 17, 2011 •
Lawmakers may not have to go further than their statehouse for a drink in Ohio
The Ohio Statehouse may be the first to be home to a full-service bar available to those reserving The Capitol Cafe which resides in the basement of the building.
An ariticle from National Public Radio says that state officials are debating a proposal to establish what would apparently be the nation’s first statehouse bar — a venue where lawmakers and even members of the public could tip a few back after hours if they reserve the space.
As would be expected, the idea has supporters who welcome the idea of having a bar in their statehouse as well as opposition who think it inappropriate to open a bar in a government building frequented by schoolchildren.
The panel that oversees Statehouse operations has slowed the project’s pace, assigning it to a study committee that will sort out what the business should offer.
Read this article, “Drinks On The House? Ohio Statehouse Considers Bar”, to learn more.
August 16, 2011 •
The White House is now Foursquare’s highest-profile member.
The White House has expanded its reach into the social media realm by joining Foursquare.
For those of you not familiar with Foursquare, it is a location-based social networking website.
In an article on Mashable, it stated that the White House said that it will be posting tips about the president’s visits around the country as he embarks on an economic bus tour across the Midwest. The White House will also be creating checkin locations for different presidential events.
President Obama was greeted to the social networking site by a post from Foursquare saying,
“Welcome to @foursquare, President Obama! Follow him on foursquare to see where he’s checking in and leaving tips: 4sq.com/WHon4SQ”
Read the full article by Ben Parr, “President Obama Joins Foursquare“.
August 15, 2011 •
House of Representives possibly to move to a Unified Communications System
According to an article posted on NextGov.com, The House of Representatives wants to migrate its separate voice and data communications systems to a single unified communications system, which eventually also could support voice and videoconferencing and instant messaging on an integrated Internet protocol network.
To learn more about what more would be involved in this conversion to such a communications system, read “House Eyes Move to VoIP Phone System” written by Bob Brewin.
August 4, 2011 •
Hear From the Astronauts of NASA’s Final Space Shuttle Mission
For those of you who will be attending the NCSL Legislative Summit this coming week in San Antonio, you will have the chance to hear from the astronauts of NASA’s final space shuttle mission during Wednesday’s General Session.
These four extraordinary people have travelled millions of miles through space and certainly have plenty to share about their experiences in space.
Not many people get to hear first hand stories of experiences in space directly from an astronaut. Be one of the lucky few!
August 1, 2011 •
Online Coupon Providers Being Used for Political Campaigns
With social media platforms such as Twitter and FaceBook accepted as valuable and almost necessary platforms to be utilized by politicians during their campaigns for office, could online coupon providers such as Groupon be the next online resource to be considered by public officials?
In June, Massachusetts state Representative Dan Winslow sought approval to use Groupon for a campaign fundraiser that would allow a certain number of supporters the chance to attend the $100 per person fund-raiser with just a $25 coupon.
Winslow sought an opinion on his proposal from the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, and it was approved Monday, July 25th. Winslow is going ahead with the plan for a Sept. 20 fund-raiser at Boston’s Battery Park Bar & Lounge. Instead of Groupon, he’ll be going through the similar-but-Massachusetts-based GoodTwo.com.
Winslow’s innovative thinking has called into attention this new potential relationship between online coupon providers and politicians. Read the full article: “Massachusetts Pol Grouponomizes Campaign Finance“.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.