Mark Stencel was previously GOVERNING's executive editor and deputy publisher.E-mail: email@example.com
Some imaginative government offices across the country -- from the L.A. Fire Department to the U.S. Senate -- are experimenting with ways to use microblogging services such as Twitter to share information.
But so far I have only found a handful of senior government techies who are actually using these tools personally to connect with each other -- an observation that was reinforced by the limited Twitter traffic I saw about last week's meeting of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers in Milwaukee.
Twitter is primarily a service for efficiently sharing short bursts of information with groups of friends and professional acquaintances. Many are turned off by the 140-character count, which keeps messages -- or "tweets" -- to a length that works as well on mobile phones as they do on the Web.
How much can you really convey in such a short space? A good bit, actually, if you work at it.
As a demonstration, here are some highlights from the NASCIO meeting, as posted by me throughout the week. (By the way, TinyURL is a service that allows you to turn long Web addresses into short, Twitter-friendly links.)....
Ex-PA gov./ex-Homeland Security Sec. Tom Ridge at NASCIO: "The only people I know who don't have 'special interests' are deceased." 07:08 PM September 22, 2008
Google Energy Czar Bill Weihl: 6 states (MN KS CO KY MI OR) have joined the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. http://tinyurl.com/2v22cy 07:30 PM September 22, 2008
MI CIO Ken Theis muses at NASCIO: Is green IT a fad, politics, a critical need or a mandate? His vote: critical, and soon a mandate. 07:36 PM September 22, 2008
IN CIO (and ex-EDS'er) Gerry Weaver describes the role of gov't tech vendors (in a room full of them): "ravage, pillage, miss a deadline..." 07:41 PM September 22, 2008
VA CISO Peggy Ward: ~23K state workers eligible for some form of telework; +5K are doing so. (Notes prison guards are among the ineligible.) 08:54 PM September 22, 2008
Kathleen Hall Jamieson makes good points to state tech honchos at NASCIO about using plain talk, avoiding jargon. But.... (cont.) 07:21 PM September 23, 2008
(cont.).... undermines her suggestions by talking about "Ciceroian" sentences, dependent clauses and "telegraphy." 07:24 PM September 23, 2008
Partnership for Public Service's Bob Lavigna on the need for new gov't hiring practices:"We're going to end up w/the best of the desperate." 07:41 PM September 23, 2008
CIO Vivek Kundra: DC is "putting all the data we can in the public domain" for citizens, media, others to mine. http://data.octo.dc.gov 04:16 PM September 24, 2008
(cont.)... Kundra: DC planning cash challenge to find the best widget built with city data. Gov'ts "underestimate the power of raw data." 04:18 PM September 24, 2008
There you go: a full conference worth of speaker highlights in less than 2,000 characters. But unless you actually were there, you did not get to see Minnesota CIO Gopal Khanna, NASCIO's new president, in full biker attire during the opening reception at Milwaukee's famed Harley-Davidson Museum.
If only he would agree to pose for pictures! That would have been worth a thousand tweets.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.