Adriel Hampton, New Media Strategist
From Twitter to Facebook to podcasting and blogging, from President Obama’s Open Government Initiative to San Francisco’s Open Data efforts, we live in interesting times as the roles of citizens, media, and government intertwine and change. Much of this change is driven by interesting new technologies and a reform movement sometimes called “Government 2.0.”
However, as NEN director Daniel Homsey reminded me recently, innovation â‰ technology. We must move beyond the allure of new media and tech toys to implement new ideas that will make better cities. As I spoke with Daniel, I thought about how to use new tools to make stronger and more resilient neighborhoods. We discussed using social media – the interactive peer-to-peer sharing networks like Facebook and Twitter – for post-emergency capacity building, or fostering a civil society that can survive and recover from disaster.
In San Francisco, where the next major earthquake will be the defining moment for future administrations and thousands of public employees and neighborhood leaders, the most valuable innovation is in creating citizen networks that can survive and rebuild through major disruption.
Photo by RSMS, Flickr
My driving interest in Gov 2.0 centers on flattened hierarchies,Â use of modern tools and processes for an efficient government, and adoption of collaboration tools for knowledge sharing and better communication. Increasingly, younger workers and private sector folks who’ve grown up on the Internet and are fluent in new tech tools are radically changing citizenship and government service.
The same tools and culture change that are transforming government could also help in disaster recovery, and, in the near term, tech-enabled large-scale networks can also be used to improve neighborhood cohesion, link volunteers, and tie taxpayers, public employees, and elected officials more closely in purpose and vision.
I’m very interested in how social media and grassroots networks based on Web tools like Ning (see the example of Neighbors for Neighbors) can be used in capacity building. Can the scalability of social media unite and empower civic doers along the traditionally observed “90-9-1″ model of Internet participation, putting together key leaders in the hundreds of San Francisco neighborhood groups with thousands of more passive community members who are informed and empowered by openness and collaborative processes?
Could scores of prominent neighborhood and issue-oriented blogs and static websites contribute to such a network, cross-pollinating their local readerships, supplementing and expanding real-world communities through social media? Could elected officials find value in citizen networks that help provide organic solutions and policy direction?
I think so.ï»¿
Adriel Hampton is a Gov 2.0 and new media strategist, public servant, and licensed private investigator. Follow him on Twitter @adrielhampton or on his blog Wired to Share.