Recently I attended the Web Managers Roundtable here in DC for the first time. (I can’t link to it because I can’t find it on the Web: It doesn’t have a Web site!) The Roundtable is managed by Julie Perlmutter, who wears a tiara at meetings so that people will be able to find her. I admire her style.
This meeting, marking the Roundtable’s fifth anniversary, was on The Power of Enterprise Level Social Media: How Government Agencies Are Leading. Surprisingly, government agencies are leading in many ways. I’d already discovered that NASA is big on Second Life, so I was eager to find out more about what the gov’t was doing.
Here are some tidbits I learned:
- The NASA channel is being posted on YouTube — and NASA has no idea who is doing it (but they’re glad it’s getting out). That info was from Brian Dunbar, from NASA’s PR office. Brian also admitted that despite what people like to believe, the government — like every other organization — often does technology for technology’s sake. How human of it!
- Molly Moran, who is the “new media advisor” at the State Department, said that they’ve got an internal social network, “Diplopedia.” She said that there are 50 “community” discussions on the department’s network, yet most of the leaders believe they don’t blog. I recall when computers first hit campuses, and a co-ed (do they still call them that?) was eager to show me how much she loved her word processing software, her e‑mail and messaging capabilities, and her saved files, yet insisted she hated computers.
- Chris Rasmussen of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has a title with trendy words like “social” and “knowledge management” in it. He made another point that supports my own observations: you can’t force collaboration. He said that people don’t trust others enough to collaborate with them, at least not without testing the waters. Chris suggested that the most any manager can do is establish processes for coordination. Chris says coordination could lead to cooperation, and cooperation could lead, finally, to collaboration. I think this is a particularly valuable insight for those who want to take advantage of social networking and collaboration software: start with coordination. As one of the speakers (it may have been Chris) said, just because “share” is in the title doesn’t mean using SharePoint means you are collaborating.
(Chris had made the same point at an earlier conference on the intelligence community’s wiki, “Intellipedia.” Thanks to Dave Cassidy for pointing that out.)