Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Listing Australia's government-run Facebook and YouTube pages - I need your help

Similar to my listing of twitter accounts from Australian Federal, State and local government agencies, I'm attempting to put together a listing of Australia's government-run Facebook pages and YouTube channels.

This is a big job and I'd appreciate your help.

If your agency operates one or more Facebook pages or YouTube channels, or you are aware of any that are operated by other agencies, please either add them as a comment below (feel free to be anonymous) or tweet or email me the details.

I am interested in any that are operated by a Australian Federal, State or local government agency or other publicly funded body.

Please pass on this post to your colleagues. Having a list of the social media channels used by government agencies helps other agencies build the case to use them for their own needs.

Read full post...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

LobbyLens seeking funding - open government outside the public sector

I believe that one of the major shortcomings in Australia is the lack of financial support outside the public sector for open government initiatives.

The UK has the Hansard Society, the US has the Sunlight Foundation - but what does Australia have?

Granted there is the embryonic OpenAustralia Foundation, a registered charity devoted to open government. However overall it appears to me that Australia doesn't provide the level of financial support that we see for organisations with similar transparency goals in other mature democracies.

LobbyLens, one of the applications developed for the Gov 2.0 Taskforce's Mashup Australia Competition last year, is seeking $148,000 in funding to turn it into a full-blown, maintained service supporting open government in Australia.

In Club Troppo, the post Life for LobbyLens? says that Margaret Simons, freelance journalist, board member of Crikey and driving force behind the Swinburne University Public Interest Journalism Foundation has taken on revamping LobbyLens and making it publicly available through the Public Interest Journalism Foundation.

LobbyLens, which was built in less than 24 hours during Govhack in 2009, uses 12 separate publicly available databases to provide a picture of the connections between lobbyists, ministers, departments and successful tenderers. It offers a unique view on the lobbying of Australian government that is useful for both journalists and interested citizens.

The tool is also of interest to public servants who need to understand the connections between organisations for their decision-making processes.

Read full post...

Monday, September 27, 2010

When traditional media exposes public service bloggers

On Monday, 27 September 2010, Grog, of the Grog's Gamut blog, was outed by James Massola of The Australian as Greg Jericho, a federal public servant who happens to blog on matters of politics.

Massola, in his article Controversial political blogger unmasked as a federal public servant, has questioned Grog's right to challenge journalistic views, veiled under the question of whether, as a public servant, he was entitled to blog about politics.

Grog addressed this question through his own blog in a post, Spartacus no more, where he outlined the APSC's guidance, which states:

It is quite acceptable for APS employees to participate in political activities as part of normal community affairs.

APS employees may become members of or hold office in any political party.

APS employees, whether or not they are members of political parties, are expected to separate their personal views on policy issues from the performance of their official duties. This is an important part of professionalism and impartiality as an APS employee.

Where an APS employee is involved in publicly promoting party or other views on certain issues, and where their duties are directly concerned with advising on or directing the implementation or administration of government policy on those issues, there is potential for conflicts of interest.

Grog went on to say that he's never commented on anything other than publicly available material and did not comment on matters related to his specific duties.

I have never written anything which I have gleaned through work. All information I use comes from the media or press releases or public reports. This is pretty clear from anyone who regularly reads this blog – you never find “breaking” or “inside” news here – you find opinion and analysis.

The only thing that I find noteworthy about this 'expose' is that it demonstrates the fallacy of the argument that keeping your personal and professional identities separate online is an effective mechanism for resolving unwarranted perceptions of inappropriate online engagement.

While it is nice to believe that you can post online under a pseudonym and remain anonymous, this is rarely sustainable in the long-run. When someone is 'exposed' as using a pseudonym it becomes newsworthy simply due to the sensation.

I wish all the best to Grog - Greg Jericho.

And in the interests of the continued growth of Gov 2.0 in Australia, I hope he will have the clear support of his managers.

COVERAGE (EDITED):
Follow the discussion of this topic on Twitter using the hashtags #groggate and #grogsgate.

Statistics on the use of the Twitter hashtags is available at What the trend.
Articles and posts for 27 September:
ABC The Drum - Grog's great anonymity gamble
An Onymous Lefty - Grog-gate: Outing as bullying
Ariane's Little World - A person is not their job
B Sides - Privacy is not a gift for journalists to bestow or withdraw
Catherine Deveny - Groggate
Catallaxy Files - MSM arrogance
Core Economics - Transparency and blogging
Crikey / Pure Poison - The Grog’s Gamut outing: In whose interest? 
Crikey - The whys and wherefores of bureaucratic blogging
Dermott Banana - Outings 
eGovAU (here) - When traditional media exposes public service bloggers
Girl with a satchel - Monday Media Study: Grazia's Bingle Bungle & Groggate
Herald-Sun - Get away with you
Hoyden About Town - If you can’t defend yourself, you shouldn’t be allowed to speak
IAIN HALL's Sandpit - Grog’s Greg outed … so what? 
I'm not Tina Wheeze - LOVE, ANON
Larvatus Prodeo - Grog’s Gamut outed by The Australian
Mediakult - Not navel gazing at Media140 (mentions in the conclusion)
Misc and Other - Why I don’t use my real name on twitter
Mumbrella - Australian outs blogger Grog’s Gamut
Mumbrella - Why the Grog’s Gamut outing harms The Australian
Random Black Heart Glitter Moments - On #groggate
The Accidental Australian - Outing the anonymous blogger. Good for the gander?
The Angry Exile - MSM vs Blogosphere - UPDATED
The Australian - No anonymity to bloggers, tweeters
The Australian - Twittersphere hit by storm over whether political blogger had a right to anonymity
The Bannerman - No Opinions Without Reality…or, Who Is James Massola?
The Conscience Vote - Who has the right to speak?
The Failed Estate - Now that We Have Your Attention...
The Gutter Trash - The Australian launches attack on Independent Blogger Grog’s Gamut
The news with nipples - Who gets to be anonymous?
The Vicious Circle - The Grog’s Gamut Irony
The Vicious Circle - Jack the Insider on team #Gamut?
    A follow-up article from James Massola explaining his decision to 'out' Grog, released at midnight on 28 September:
    The Australian - Why I unmasked blogger Grog
      Articles and posts for 28 September:
      A Shiny New Coin - no, I am GrogsGamut
      ABC The Drum - Bullet by bullet, the bloggers win the war
      An Onymous Lefty - Jeremy's ear (not really on topic but mentions as an aside)
      Ash's to Ashes blog - Confessions of a Blogger
      Australia Incognita - Anonymity and the blogger
      Blogging Townsville - Mudoch's approach to his papers' critics - will Island View be next?
      Crikey - Simons: it wasn’t unethical to name Grog’s Gamut
      Crikey - The Oz’s Bolt loose … science of pop-news … (touches on)
      Crikey / Pollytics - Gibbons throwing poo
      Crikey / Pure Poison - Don’t you know who I’m not?
      Crikey / Pure Poison - Massola raises the stakes
      Goonanism - A Passing Note on Grog’s Gamut
      Grahame LJ - Anonymity and blogging
      Happy Antipodean - Tuesday, 28 September 2010 
      Larvatus Prodeo - #Grogsgate and the right to privacy
      Mumbrella - Blogger-outing journo: Grog’s Gamut was tweeting during work time
      Online Opinion - Blogs and anonymity - another News conspiracy?
      Ozylum – Asylum in Australia - New Media 
      Peter Martin - No-one should be forcibly reduced to a single identity
      The Australian - A storm on the internet (Why should web writers escape scrutiny and responsibility?)
      The Australian - Journalist threatened over Twitter outing
      The Australian - The Oz declares war on bloggers: Rosen
      The Australian - Blogosphere and Twitter no more than an echo chamber
      The Bannerman - How Do They Insult Us? Let Us Count The Ways
      The Canberra Times - The outing of a favourite blogger
      The Failed Estate - The Empire Strikes Back
      The Gutter Trash - The Australian: Accused of Just “Making Stuff Up” (Again)
      The National Times - Tweets get messy as mainstream media takes on the blogosphere
      The Riot Act - On Greg Jericho, groggate, and the public service.

      Articles and posts for 29 September:
      ABC The Drum - Why I'm quitting Twitter (Groggate given as influential)
      Billablog - Who will be the next Grog-gate?
      Dave from Albury's Weblog - Outing an amateur
      HarrangueMan - Speaking of partisan chum buckets...
      Insert Clever Title Here - Now we know who Grog is... what changed... #groggate
      Instances of Ass Clownery - James Massola is an Ass Clown
      Preston Towers - To Grog or Not to Grog
      The Australian - Speak Queasy (see section on 'The Battle of Jericho)
      The Dummer Press - We're under attack!
      The Register - Media group faces both ways on the issue

      Articles and posts for 30 September:
      ABC The Drum - Quality sets The Australian apart
      Black Dog - The Australian's War on Australia
      The Australian - Grog blogger keeps his job
      The Notion Factory - Anonymous


      Articles and posts for 1 October:
      Cafe Whispers - Fran speaking frankly (small mention)
      Crikey - And the Wankley goes to… The Oz’s war on everything (bloggers, this week)
      SBS World News Byte Me - #grogsgate raises enduring questions
      The Bannerman - Burn Baby, Burn!

      Articles and posts for 2 October:
      Daily Dose - Kate’s Corner ~ Being “Outted” in Australian Society
      Happy Antipodean - Saturday, 2 October 2010
      James Purser [INSERT WITTY CATCHPHRASE HERE] - Grog Thoughts
      The Australian - Test of Twitter-led revolution reveals a character limit

      Articles and posts for 3 October:
      Billablog - Grog-Gate 2  or We aren’t the ones who don’t get it, YOU are!
      B Sides - A couple more points about Grogsgate
      Crikey - The Content Makers - More on the Ethics of Outing Grog’s Gamut 
      Gary Sauer-Thompson's Weblog - Conversations - Twitter
      Kate Carruthers - My Amplify - the continued misunderstanding of the relationship between Twitter & activism is getting annoying #groggate
      Still life with cat - More on Grog's Gamut
      The Australian -  Salvos lobbed in the great blog war of '10
      The Bannerman - Questionable Irony
      The Bannerman - Going Through Hell, On A War Horse Called ‘Right’ 

      Articles and posts for 4 October:
      ABC The Drum - Anonymous sources no window to truth
      Aide-Memoire - Twitter, commonsense and journalism #groggate
      My Red Crayon - Grog Gate, may his legacy be a change for the better.
      Restless Capital - Last word on #Groggate
      sminney's posterous - "Media" 2-10-10 Deconstructed
      Sydwalker.info -  Naked Lies & Long Noses: from Watergate to #Groggate (a mention)
      The Australian - As the anonymous walls of Jericho fall, the great blog war of '10 begins

      Articles and posts for 5 October:
      A Shiny New Coin - To speak in the first person
      ABC The Drum - The Australian. Think. Again.
      Aide-Memoire - Public discourse and private citizens – how free is freedom of speech? #groggate
      Crikey - The Content Makers - Information Brokerage and Citizenship. More Reflections on Grogs Gamut
      eGovAU - In the noise of #Groggate, don't forget those silenced
      SkepticLawyer - Journalists are Luddites #groggate
      Sydney Morning Herald - Journalists' jealousy behind a blogger unmasked  The Canberra Times - Battle of Jericho
      The Punch - Hitting journos where it really hurts: a handy guide
      Upstart - Narcissus, Grog’s Gamut and a self-obsessed media

      Articles and posts for 6 October:
      eGovau - Stats on articles and posts for #Groggate (includes statistics on all articles mentioning Groggate listed in this post)

      Articles and posts for 7 October:
      Crikey - The Content Makers - Pseudonyms and Anonymity – a Previously Unpublished Case Study.
      Mediakult - Blogging under the radar (references Grog)

      Articles and posts for 8 October:
      Townsville Bulletin - Cowardly world of bloggers
      Blogging Townsville - The Townsville Bulletin celebrates our first birthday with style

      Articles and posts for 10 October:
      Peter Martin - The Australian does not follow a party line
      the political sword - Grog, do come back – we need you

      Articles and posts for 11 October:
      ret's posterous: Cowardly world of bloggers - jeez that's rich

      Articles and posts for 14 October:
      The Australian - Grog's blog back in business

      Articles and posts for 16 October:
      Woolly Days - Grog rations (NEW)

      Articles and posts for 17 October:
      RickyRobinson.id.au - The Australian and the new Battle of Jericho

      Related information and news:
      ABC - Mark Scott's speech: The Quest for Truth: Quality Journalism and a 21st Century ABC (where Grog's comments about the mainstream media were first seem as influential) 
      Grog's Gamut - Election 2010: Day 14 (or waste and mismanagement – the media) (the original article from Grog referenced by Mark Scott)

      Australian Press Council - Balancing privacy and press freedom
      Online Journalism Blog - Time to talk about legal
      Restless Capital - Brief historical reflections on anonymity and pseudonymity
      The Australian -  Twitter speaks and the ABC listens
      The Australian - Hobby writers keep pros on their toes
      The Advertiser - Censoring free speech in the secret state
      The Herald-Sun - Outrage as South Australia's Rann Government, Opposition unite to gag internet election debate
      The Sydney Morning Herald - Iranian blogger jailed for 19 years (Aside - Don't we use 'gaoled' anymore?)
      The Guardian -  No one gains from blowing the cover of this secret policeman
      J352: Intro to Online Journalism - Blogger outed by journalist on Twitter
      The Wall - BBC’s Marr blasts bloggers: socially inadequate, pimpled, single and seedy


      Other mediums:
      27 September - ABC Q&A - Politics, Betrayal and Sex (See closing remarks from Senator Conroy)
      1 October - The Australian Media Series Audio Webcast - Grogs-gate: A storm in a tweetcup
      2 October - 702 ABC Sydney - The Sunday Panel - To Twitter or Not to Twitter (see last few minutes)
      3 October - Cartoon - grogsgamut droogisheep #274


      A UK view from their 2008 Civil Serf debate:
      DavePress -  Public servants must blog, despite Civil Serf
        There's a Twibbon in support of Grog.

        There's also a Facebook page, If 100,000 people like this page I'll name my firstborn Grogs Gamut.

        There's this T-shirt (I work in the public service and I tweet) and this T-shirt (Murdoch outed me and all I got was this crummy hashtag #GrogGate T-Shirt) - created by Black Bobs

        And a poll I've set up asking - Do journalists have a right to remain anonymous?

        Read full post...

        Thursday, September 23, 2010

        Will social media only come into its own in government when budgets run out?

        The US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich spoke this morning at Media140 #Ozpolitics on why President Obama used social media in such an innovative way during his election campaign.

        Bleich said that it wasn't because President Obama particularly believed that social media was taking over from traditional media and it wasn't because his campaign team felt it would differentiate them from other Democratic candidates.

        It was because they didn't have any choice.

        Back in 2006 while Obama had enormous appeal as a Senator he didn't have the basics to win an election. No money, endorsements, name recognition or consultants.

        He was running against Senator Hilary Clinton - who had been a household name for two decades, had a good funding machine, had locked up most of the big endorsements and had good consultants.

        The core group of 'true believers' supporting Obama may have been passionate, committed and hardworking but they were underdogs. And, Bleich says, while Americans (and Australians) love an underdog, they normally stay under.

        To compensate for the lack of supporters ready to contribute million-dollar donations, President Obama's team had to build campaign funds from grassroots supporters, at an average of $60 at a time.

        To replace a lack of endorsements from national political leaders, Obama's team had to seek endorsements at a local level, from individual town leaders across the United States.

        He had to get his name into widespread public use and he had to get advisors who could use special tools to catch up with Senator Clinton's advantages.

        We all know the outcome. President Obama raised over US$500 million via small donations, built huge brand recognition across the United States and created a network of over 6.4 million engaged voters, who organised and influenced locally.

        Ambassador Bleich says that social media shouldn't be thought of as creating a new way of communicating. It gives political leaders the capability to communicate with people in the same way they communicate in person.

        He says that social media will replace traditional media where it is superior. It won't replace TV or other channels that are good at particular things that social media is not.

        Bleich also said that shifting from campaign to governance has also posed an issue for social media use. The conversation is no longer with campaign supporters - a smaller and more supportive group. It is now with a nation, more people, more views and less support.

        This view was reflected by Senator Christine Milne of the Greens during her comments on the panel 'How are real time and social media platforms changing political communication'. She said that MPs have a job to do - reading, discussing, meeting and voting. The time they can spend engaging and building relationships via social media channels is limited.

        This raises an issue of authenticity. Milne says that even if MPs can spend time in social media building a 'celebrity' profile, if they cannot maintain the level of involvement and support it on an ongoing basis by delivering substance, it creates an issue.

        Bleich said that Obama's campaign was able to fly under the radar, had no choice to experiment with online engagement. Whereas, Latika Bourke, during the panel discussion, said that during the Australian election most politicians went into hiding as they were afraid of being 'that politician who stuffed up on Twitter'.

        So what does this mean for Australian politics and government?

        It suggests to me that Australia's current political and government system will continue largely unchanged - on the surface.

        While we don't face the same financial and engagement pressures as Obama's campaign there's no pressure forcing our politicians and public servants to engage online.

        We're less likely to experiment and innovate while the fear of public failure outweighs the gain that can be achieved.

        I realise this all sounds a little depressing for Gov 2.0 advocates - such as myself. However there are signs of hope.

        Malcolm Turnbull, who was also on the panel, believes that technology has been a great democratiser - a child can make a movie with a mobile device that used to require a million dollars of equipment.

        He says that despite some MPs feeling they face vitriol via social media channels, this isn't more than they previously faced via email, or even face-to-face.

        He says that his engagement via Twitter is based on having a little fun, being willing to engage in a less formal way - be a little provocative, throw in some whimsy.

        As we're already seeing with the growth of social media use by government there is increasing trust in allowing people to use the channel. As it becomes a normal approach to engagement the fear and scrutiny should diminish to the level appropriate to the medium and the messages.

        This is likely to happen more slowly in a climate of 'business as usual' - where budgets exist for traditional media use and agencies and politicians both feel that existing channels meet their communications and engagement needs.

        However change will happen. Social media will become a more important part of the mix where it is a superior medium. It just won't see the speed of adoption or innovation we saw during the last US Presidential campaign.

        To give the last words to Ambassador Bleich, he said that social media can help spread facts as quickly as fictions. Government and politicians can use it to manage the 24 hour news cycle, mitigating issues by correcting news.

        He says that social media, like all media since the printing press, is a two-edged sword - what's most important is that you have a handle on it.

        Read full post...

        Media140 #OzPolitics Liveblog

        Hi,

        I'm liveblogging Media140 #OzPolitics today. It can also be followed via the live stream in the Media140 site and on Twitter using the hashtags #Media140, #OzPolitics and #OzPol.

        My liveblog is below, or you can capture my RSS feed at: http://rss.coveritlive.com/rss.php?altcast_code=ff941a7c47



        And a view of the day from FirstDogOnMoon - sourced from his FirstBlog at Crikey:

                       


















        Thanks for reading!

        Read full post...

        Wednesday, September 22, 2010

        Redefining public goods - by Nicholas Gruen

        If you followed the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington earlier this month, you may have seen Nicholas Gruen's presentation on redefining public goods.

        If you haven't, it is well worth reviewing (see below) - as are many of the other presentations from the event.

        These presentations are available online, together with slides, from the event's website.



        His slides are embedded below.

        Redefining Public_Private Partnerships Presentation

        Read full post...

        Monday, September 20, 2010

        Complete the ANZSOG survey on the economic value of open government

        The South Australian government has commissioned ANZSOG to conduct a research study on the topic of

        "Economic value of open access to government-held data and information"

        ANZSOG is seeking respondents who can provide information about the approach of their organisations to the collection and dissemination of data and/or information, as well as their personal views on this topic.

        They are particularly interested in hearing stories about experiences with open access to government data and/or information (be they positive, negative or neutral).

        The survey can be found at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/govinfosurvey

        The survey should take approximately 20 minutes, depending on how much
        detail you go into and is divided into the following sections:

        1. Introduction
        2. Access to data
        3. Cost recovery
        4. Characteristics of data
        5. Benefits of access to data
        6. Barriers to sharing data
        7. Health questions (for those working in the health industry only)
        8. Mining industry questions (for those working in the mining industry only)
        9. Conclusion
        The survey deadline is Friday 24 September. Any information in addition to the survey can be sent to helen.moreland@transport.vic.gov.au

        Read full post...

        Saturday, September 18, 2010

        Keep your eyes on Media140 #OzPolitics on 23 September

        In what is looking like another milestone for Government 2.0 in Australia, the Media140 #OzPolitics event on 23 September at Old Parliament House has an amazing lineup of speakers exploring how the real-time web is changing the face of Australian politics and government engagement.

        It features a range of presentations as well as five panels, on

        • How are real time & social media platforms changing political communication?
        • The changing role of traditional political news gatekeepers in the age of the real time web,
        • Controlling the message in the real time web era,
        • Alternative views of political news, and
        • Gov 2.0: Participatory Democracy & Citizen Engagement
        Panelists and speakers include Malcolm Turnbull, Rob Oakeshot, Kate Lundy, Scott Ludlum, First Dog on the Moon, Latika Bourke, Bernard Keane and Stephen Collins.

        I'll be liveblogging the event (wifi willing) and participating in the Gov 2.0 panel.

        I believe it is still possible to register for the event. However if you cannot make it, you can follow it on Twitter via the hashtags #ozpolitics and #media140.

        Read full post...

        Friday, September 17, 2010

        US launches Challenge.gov

        The US government recently launched Challenge.gov, a site allowing US agencies to manage and promote challenges, prizes and competitions where the community is asked to help solve a wide range of public governance issues - all in one central location.

        The challenge concept is a simple one. By tapping into the wisdom of crowds governments and other organisations are able to provide better and more cost-effective solutions to problems, large or small.

        It's hard to see the downside of this approach. Government pays a small amount to incentivise participation in the challenge (a prize). If none of the challenge entries provide a better solution, or are not approaches that a government cannot adopt, the time and money cost is negligible. If a better solution - or multiple better solutions - are entered, then government has made a significant gain at little cost.

        The US has taken this a step further by embedding the challenge 'DNA' into a low cost technique available to public servants with the support of the political arm of US government.

        Already there are over 40 challenges on the site, with many, many more to come.

        Read full post...

        Wednesday, September 15, 2010

        Are social media professionals unfairly constrained by organisations?

        When organisations hire accountants they are allowed to use specialist financial software to do their jobs.

        When organisations hire customer service representatives they are given training and scripts and are then allowed to speak to customers on the phone - monitored for performance reasons but free to communicate in appropriate ways without approval of every word.

        When organisations hire graphic designers, project managers, multimedia producers and programmers they are given access to appropriate software and computer systems.

        So why is it that, when hiring social media professionals, organisations don't give them access to their 'tools of the trade'?

        Dilbert.com

        In many organisations it is not possible to access social media channels - such as Facebook or Twitter - due to old-style internal IT access policies. Tools to monitor social media channels are also often blocked, making it difficult to track what customers and clients are saying about an organisation, identify opportunities or head-off potential issues.

        In many cases organisations scrutinise all social media interactions at senior levels (down to 140 character tweets). These approval processes can add significant time and effort to online responses, making it difficult to interact at the pace required for social media. Imagine if telephone conversations or live conference presentations were treated the same way.

        Also often those employed to implement social media systems and manage these channels are not provided with training and support - certainly not to the level of a phone customer service representative - despite being in the position of interacting with the public every day.

        Even when organisations are serious about adopting social media, their policies, processes and procedures may not be designed to allow social media to work for them. This can lead to mixed messages (as when customers are invited to fan an organisation's Facebook page - which staff are not allowed to access during work hours). This can even lead to social media engagement becoming a liability, where its use is so constrained that it casts the organisation in a worse light.

        These issues are occurring in private as well as public sectors organisations - perhaps some corporations have not realised that restricting access to social media can seriously damage your business.

        Progress is also very uneven and often driven by senior personalities. Organisations and agencies with clear Gov 2.0 Action Plans are driving ahead, whereas others are still considering whether twitter is a legitimate business communications channel - either from a lack of knowledge, lack of leadership or lack of interest.

        How can social media professionals ensure that our organisations give us access to the tools we need to support the goals of our organisations?

        How do we break down the barriers to using social media when we cannot demonstrate successes due to these same barriers?

        How do we convince senior management that social media professionals are skilled and trustworthy employees who should be treated with the same respect as other trained professionals?

        And how do social media professionals juggle the need to be educators, innovators, strategists, change managers, implementers, communications specialists and leaders at the same time?

        Read full post...

        Tuesday, September 14, 2010

        NSW launches live traffic monitoring online

        The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) has launched RTA Live. This new website provides live updates on road conditions across NSW, including road work, fires, floods, accidents as well as feeds from 67 traffic cameras across Sydney.

        There's also a widget embeddable on blogs and websites to provide traffic information.

        Displaying the data on Google Maps, the site is an excellent example of the use of Web 2.0 technologies in a government context.

        My only suggestion for the site would be to include data for Canberra to fill the annoying ACT-sized hole in the map.

        Read full post...

        Monday, September 13, 2010

        Business.gov.au launches social media section and iPhone app

        Business.gov.au has introduced a social media section to its website.

        While this type of approach has become quite widespread overseas, providing a central hub to access all of an agency's social media engagement tools, business.gov.au is one of the first Australian government websites to provide this type of hub.

        At the same time business.gov.au has released its first iPhone application. Aimed primarily at business people, the app allows someone to look up ABNs and a variety of information about business from the website.

        I've personally found the application a very convenient tool for looking up ABNs while on the go, being much faster and easier than using a website to do it.

        Read full post...

        What does it cost to build and run a government website?

        The Guardian reported in July that the UK government has released details on the costs of developing, staffing and hosting their major government websites.

        The data includes web traffic, accessibility and user opinions on the websites.

        This type of data is very useful when modeling the costs of developing and operating government sites, allowing agencies to more accurately forecast costs and staffing needs. It allows agencies to compare their web operations with other agencies, providing a view on who is most - and least - efficient.

        The approach also allows hard-working, poorly resourced and funded web teams to more effectively argue for a greater share of the agency pie.

        I would love to have such data available here in Austraia - down to being able to derive a total cost per visit (which for UK sites ranges from 1 pence up to 9.78 pounds - see the Google spreadsheet below). It would significantly assist web teams and agencies in their planning and activities.


        The UK website data can be downloaded here.

        Or see the data visualised (using IBM ManyEyes) and a Google spreadsheed of the costs below.








        Download the full list as a spreadsheet

        Read full post...

        Tips for hiring a public sector social media manager

        We are now starting to see government departments advertising social media roles - although the titles vary, including 'New Media Adviser', 'Community Manager' and even 'Online Media Coordinator'.

        In Australia it is difficult to recruit people with substantial experience for these roles. I am seeing many filled by media specialists or website managers, who are qualified in their professions, but can be new to the social media space.

        This shortage of experienced people also reflect competition from the private sector. Corporate social media roles are now advertised at entry levels around $50,000, mid-range around $90 and at senior levels at $130,000 or more. Government agencies are not always able to offer similar levels of compensation, although attempt to compensate through conditions and superannuation contributions.

        Some agencies are taking the route of having graduates lead social media initiatives in the belief that their youth gives them greater familiarity with the medium.

        While graduates do come with enthusiasm, innovation and fresh ideas, they haven't always had time to build experience in the public sector, to understand the governance processes or political considerations or build networks of influence. They need support from mentors and sponsors to overcome these challenges.

        Graduates may also not be the most experienced users of social media - the types of social media used by a graduate can be quite different from those used by a professional communicator with five or more years experience, simply due to the different professional needs they have in their lives.

        Introducing social media into an organisation is a complex and delicate endeavour. When was the last time organisations added a major new communications channel? What type of cultural, procedural and technical changes were required? How major was the change program - and how well resourced?

        Traditionally government employs specialist teams for policy development, program management and service delivery - yet in the social media space a single person or small team is often required to have all these skills in ample measure.

        This means agencies need to think seriously about the experience and expertise they need in the people they employ to lead their social media initiatives. The experience and expertise required to navigate the cultural and change considerations, work within the governance and processes and appreciate the public communications and political sensitivities around social media adoption.

        To aid in this challenge the post 12 Steps To Hiring A Social Media Manager from SocialMediaToday provides many useful tips and considerations that organisations need to take on board when making a social media manager hire.

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        Friday, September 10, 2010

        Online video ads more effective than TV ads

        This week a colleague made me aware of a study conducted by Nielsen in April which found that online video ads were significantly more effective than TV ads amongst US viewers.

        Reported at ClickZ (but for some reason not widely reported by traditional media), the article states that,

        The research company conducted over 14,000 surveys evaluating 238 brands, 412 products, and 951 ad executions, and collected data on general recall, brand recall, message recall, and likeability. The results suggest that for each metric, consumers reacted better to ads delivered via online video than they did through traditional TV.

        Nielsen says the increased impact could be attributed to the nature of the viewing experiences offered between the two platforms, with online video viewers often more "engaged and attentive" to the content they are consuming.

        This wasn't a small impact either - online ads were on average more than 30% more effective per the chart below.


        To learn more about how people are watching video, I recommend reading Nielsen's report, How People Watch: A Global Nielsen Consumer Report.

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        Tuesday, September 07, 2010

        An open government renaissance in Australia?

        With the election over, Prime Minister Gillard has promised to throw open the curtains and let in the sunlight, a more open government than ever before.

        With a government consisting of 72 Labor MPs, a Green MP and three Independents, media commentators are saying that more negotiation and consultation will be required than ever before.

        This may prove to be Australia's open government renaissance - with corresponding growth in Gov 2.0.

        What do people think?

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        Monday, September 06, 2010

        Understanding internet memes and the language of the net

        The other day I came across a couple of experienced communications professionals who were unaware of Lolcats and several other well-known internet memes.

        I believe it is quite important to understand the language, trends and traditions of a medium that you wish to use to communicate with and engage your audiences, so in the interests of spreading knowledge, here's a couple of good sources of information.

        It is particularly useful for those who are newer to the internet (less than 10 years of use) or who are on the mature side of 40.

        And in case you think all this meme stuff is some freaky internet phenomenon - many similar memes exist in traditional media as well - and you probably know them...

        Such as Whatcha talkin bout Willis and Jumping the shark.

        Know your meme - A great collection of short videos, each explaining a different popular internet meme. Yes there are lots of them. It's very useful for looking up those strange words used by your resident internet junkie, or when they send you to the last page on the internet.

        Memesfactory - an entertaining, yet sometimes confronting, journey through the internet's wild west. Gives a great overview of the main internet memes and key terminology. This is designed as entertainment and is best suited to those with some familiarity with memes but little idea of where they come from.

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        Thursday, September 02, 2010

        Innovation's Social Media in Government Seminar - presentations and videos

        Last month I gave a presentation to around 100 people at the Department of Innovation regarding the use of social media in Australian government, alongside Todd Wright of Threesides.

        With permission Innovation have published the presentations and video over at their Innovation Blog to share the seminar with others across the public service.

        I'd love to see other Departments sharing material of this kind (on a variety of topics) on a regular basis, where there's no confidentiality or commercial concerns. It reduces duplication of effort, spreads knowledge and can lead to money savings for the government.

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        Wednesday, September 01, 2010

        Independent moderation - optional or must-have for government?

        Bang The Table has released an excellent video piece on their moderation system (titled 24/7 moderation), including a part where Matt Crozier (one of their founders) says that independent moderation can be very important for government organisations in order to avoid risks of claims of censorship when they must remove some comments from a forum, blog or other online discussion device.


        This part of the video does raise a good question - when should government agencies employ independent (external) moderation and when should they use their own staff.

        Matt makes the point that where trust is fractured between a government agency and its constituents there can be increased risks of accusations of bias or censorship if the agency is seen to be doing the moderation. He suggests that an independent moderator could be seen to be less biased and that it removed perceptions that government officials may be moderating a little more than they should.

        I think these are good points, which can apply in circumstances where a neutral moderator is both feasible and advantageous.

        There are also circumstances where an authentic voice from an agency is required - where officials need to be actively engaging as participants and be seen to be moderating the discussion.

        This is particularly important when engagement is occurring through a government-run website, rather than through a separately established or third-party vehicle. Otherwise there can be issues around whether an agency is really seen to be committed or is just engaging in a token effort. Also nuances can be lost where an independent moderator doesn't understand the subject matter at sufficient depth to carry the conversation, particularly in consultations.

        Agencies need to weigh up the risks and benefits for each engagement activity, as well as assess them over time as needs change. Where possible I recommend that long-term partnerships with a trusted moderator work better than tendering for a new moderator for each separate engagement as this allows an external party to build an understanding of your guidelines and the subtleties of what may be considered inappropriate comments, rather than having to re-educate each time.

        Where staff are moderating they need support as their decisions impact on the integrity and public perception of your organisation. For starters they should have clear moderation guidelines and examples, possibly borrowed and reworked from the experiences of other agencies.

        It helps if they have a good understanding of any Information Privacy Principles relevant to their jurisdiction and training in conflict resolution or other engagement-type interactions. It really really helps if they also have prior experience at moderation or participation in online forums and similar mediums which involve moderation activity.

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