Government 2.0 Taskforce » social networking http://gov2.net.au Design by Ben Crothers of Catch Media Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:29 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.8.6 en hourly 1 Innovation and Government 2.0 http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/20/innovation-and-government-2-0/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/12/20/innovation-and-government-2-0/#comments Sat, 19 Dec 2009 14:28:22 +0000 Nicholas Gruen http://gov2.net.au/?p=1585 Government 2.0 is integral to delivering on several agendas that the Government has running at present.  It’s central to delivering on Innovation in Government – and that’s the subject of a review which with I have been involved being conducted within the Department of Innovation under the auspices of the Management Advisory Committee which is a forum of Agency Heads established under the Public Service Act to advise Government managing the Australian Public Service.

As part of our own exercise I asked the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) to have a look at the data it compiled for its State of the Service Report this year.  It has only come out in the last few weeks, so there was no time for them to do the analysis and for us to get it into our draft report.  In fact we’ve not included this in our final report for reasons I’ll explain.  But it’s interesting and deserves to be on the record.

The APSC were somewhat anxious about cross tabulating the two surveys because cross tabulation gives much looser correlations. To understand why, consider that social media is likely to be being used in just some parts of the public service.  My guess is that, of the 26 agencies that reported using social media, most used it in only small pockets within their operations – for instance their marketing and/or communications units would be candidates for using it. So many, perhaps most, perhaps almost all employees working in some of these agencies might well have no access to them, may not even know about them, and yet come up in the survey as employees with access to social media. We’ve spoken to the APSC about bringing social media issues into their employee survey which we hope they will do.

Another concern I have is that the question asked tends to emphasise social media platforms rather than the interactivity of use. The question in the survey of agencies was this:

“Does your agency officially use any of the following social media and networking tools in engaging with external stakeholders? (Multiple Response). Then there was this list of possibilities

  • Facebook
  • My Space (sic)
  • You Tube (sic)
  • Twitter
  • Other

Now these are definitely Web 2.0 tools, but, (and this isn’t a criticism of the APSC as they were just dipping their toe in the water here) they don’t demonstrate to me Web 2.0.  All are often used as Web 1.0 broadcast tools. So a Department’s using the capabilities of any of these tools to broadcast isn’t of much interest to us.  I’d be more interested to know if the agency or any of its staff maintained a blog which had professional content about matters that were within the purview of the agency. That would signal something more interactive going on (although even here, one really needs to look closely to see whether there’s real interaction going on and judge it’s quality).

Anyway, given my reservations I expected the data might not be much use, but thought it was worth seeing what the numbers suggested, however tentatively.

I asked them how the agency answers correlated with perceptions in answers to the employee survey around four issues.

  1. The quality of management
  2. The culture of innovation within agencies
  3. The culture of collaboration with other agencies
  4. Engagement with outsiders.

In short the answers came back as follows.

  1. The quality of management (no result)
  2. The culture of innovation within agencies (strongest result of positive correlation – see table below)
  3. The culture of collaboration with other agencies and/or outsiders (no result)
  4. Job Satisfaction (a negative correlation see table below)

So the results were probably pretty unreliable in any case, but confirmed my priors in one case and were inconsistent with them in the other. Here are the two relevant tables.

Does your agency use Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter (social networking) in engaging with external stakeholders * q18g. My current agency encourages innovation and the development of new ideas. Crosstabulation

 

 

q18g. My current agency encourages innovation and the development of new ideas.

Total

Agree

Neither Agree nor Disagree

Disagree

Not Sure

Does your agency use Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter (social networking) in engaging with external stakeholders No social networking

48.9%

32.4%

17.7%

1.0%

100.0%

Social networking

58.5%

24.0%

16.6%

.9%

100.0%

Total

51.7%

30.0%

17.4%

1.0%

100.0%

Does your agency use Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter (social networking) in engaging with external stakeholders * q17a. I enjoy the work in my current job. Crosstabulation

 

 

q17a. I enjoy the work in my current job.

Total

Agree

Neither Agree nor Disagree

Disagree

Not Sure

Does your agency use Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter (social networking) in engaging with external stakeholders No social networking

82.3%

11.0%

6.6%

.1%

100.0%

Social networking

75.5%

13.8%

10.4%

.2%

100.0%

Total

80.3%

11.9%

7.7%

.1%

100.0%

The latter negative correlation surprised me, and I don’t believe it.  I asked the APSC to do some digging around to find out whether the answers were different in different sized agencies which it seemed to me might be driving the results. Sure enough the closer you looked at the results the less sure you were that there was anything much going on at all, other than the random differences between agencies.  I didn’t do the same with the earlier (positive) correlation as we’d tested the patience of the APSC enough and they were flat out.  In any event, it will be interesting to see the results next year when, with any luck the APSC will include some social networking questions in their employee survey. I’m also hoping some questions will be slanted towards seeking out how much online interaction there is, and not just whether certain platforms that can be used for online interaction are being used.

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Access to PSI – Who is doing what? http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/07/12/access-to-psi-who-is-doing-what/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/07/12/access-to-psi-who-is-doing-what/#comments Sun, 12 Jul 2009 07:26:06 +0000 Brian Fitzgerald http://gov2.net.au/?p=221 We know that there are many people already working (both in and outside of government) on making PSI more accessible and useable.

For example over the last five years I have worked closely with a number of government projects designed to develop policy, technical and licensing solutions – such as the Government Information Licensing Project (GILF) (see its Stage 2 Report).  Our team has also worked closely with federal agencies such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics who are now providing free PSI under CC licences, AGIMO and the Cross Jurisdictional Chief Information Officers Committee (CJCIOC). 

I know that most governments in the country are now doing work in this area and many individuals and industries are also active.

Can people let us know what they are doing, proposing to do or want to do in this space?  Preferably for the record, make a comment on this blog but if you wish communicate with us is in some other way. 

(Note, this is intended to be a first cut at a project which the Taskforce may wish to do in a more systematic way, and as a result we’re likely to return to the subject more formally. But in the meantime, I thought this would be a useful preliminary exercise).

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Government 2.0 and Society 1.0 http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/07/08/government-2-0-and-society-1-0/ http://gov2.net.au/blog/2009/07/08/government-2-0-and-society-1-0/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2009 00:42:03 +0000 Lisa Harvey http://gov2.net.au/?p=285 At the Personal Democracy Forum in New York last week danah boyd (now spelled correctly) spoke on the way people access online tools such as Myspace and Facebook. I recommend reading the full text of the talk. She notes that it applies specifically to a US audience, but there are lessons for us.

Her premise is that the divisions that exist in society exist in on-line society. The truth of this has important implications for engagement online:

One thing to keep in mind about social media: the internet mirrors and magnifies pre-existing dynamics. And it makes many different realities much more visible than ever before.

The clearest divisions are between Myspace, Facebook and Twitter. In terms of age distribution, Ben Shepherd crunched Nielsen Netview numbers for Australia: 32% of Facebook users are 25-34; 43% of Myspace users are 12-24, 60% of Twitter users are over 35.

Each community has its own voice, its own language and its own ettiquette. For many, other online communities are foreign places. boyd argues that these differences reflect the differences that exist in sociey.

Social stratification is pervasive in American society (and around the globe). Social media does not magically eradicate inequality. Rather, it mirrors what is happening in everyday life and makes social divisions visible. What we see online is not the property of these specific sites, but the pattern of adoption and development that emerged as people embraced them. People brought their biases with them to these sites and they got baked in.

 While the race and class dynamics are different in Australia than they are in the USA, we can reasonably expect that the essential demographics that create divisions of age, gender, socio-economics, geographic location, education, ATSI (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) and CALD(culturally and linguistically diverse) background in our society also create divisions online.  

boyd also notes that people participate in social media with their existing off-line networks rather than engaging with new people. This creates another puzzle for governments wanting to engage with people online – how to engage using social media when the networks are essentially social. One exception to this pattern are people with a business, career or cause agenda. These people are active connection makers. For the most part I expect that people reading this blog fall into this category.

Adding to the problem is that the networks are fundamentally corporate and competitive. Sharing friends and information across networks is not possible, and third parties crossovers are incomplete and often unsatisfactory. This separation reinforces the boundaries between communities and therefore the social divisions that led to the divided participation in the first place. Twitter is different to Myspace and different to Facebook and different to Bebo and Second Life and so on.

Online participation is, for many, unpredictable and inconsistent. People have different reasons for participating in networks and different levels of participation, and participate at different times. It should be no surprise that the level of engagement in online public life reflects how people engage in public life. It is important that government engagement considers this context.

But here’s the main issue with social divisions. We can accept when people choose to connect to people who are like them and not friend different others. But can we accept when institutions and services only support a portion of the network? When politicians only address half of their constituency? When educators and policy makers engage with people only through the tools of the privileged? When we start leveraging technology to meet specific goals, we may reinforce the divisions that we’re trying to address.

This is the critical challenge that faces government online engagement: Whether through social networking communities or through other Web 2 mechanisms we risk new inequalities, add to the division between those who can and want to participate online and those who don’t, and re-inforce, or worse legitimise, the online reflections of existing divisions, in our society.

This complexity in the context should not be seen as a dealbreaker. Understanding online dynamics is not so different to understanding the dynamics in society, but it is critical that we understand them. It could also be seen as an opportunity to create bridges across some of the boundaries.

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