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Still seeking transparency

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in Smartbrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues. Paul Chaney, Internet marketing director for Bizzuka, author of “The Digital Handshake,” and member of the SmartBrief on Social Media Advisory Board, helps create the questions and analyzes the results. We run the poll question each Wednesday in our e-newsletter and feature Paul’s analysis on this blog.

Last week’s poll question: There’s a lot of talk about how social networking can improve the process of government. In terms of social-media adoption, do you think the government is playing catch-up with the private sector or is on par with it?

  • Government officials wouldn’t understand the meaning of the term “transparency” if it hit them in the face. 47%
  • It is definitely in catch-up mode. 32%
  • The government is doing a good job in using social media on par with the private sector. 15%
  • I have no comment, Senator. 6%

“We must use all available technologies and methods to open up the federal government, creating a new level of transparency to change the way business is conducted in Washington, and giving Americans the chance to participate in government deliberations and decision-making in ways that were not possible only a few years ago,” said President Barack Obama in his campaign platform on the use of technology. Obviously, in the minds of most of the survey respondents, that platform plank has yet to be nailed down.

With the prevalence of technology that makes communication much more transparent, collaborative and connected, government will have to become more social in its orientation. The public will not allow anything to the contrary. It challenges an old-guard, command-and-control mentality, but I’m encouraged that, whether you agree with his politics or not, we have a president who sees the advantages of a collaborative, grassroots approach to government.

Whether government will become a “platform” (to quote technologist Tim O’Reilly) of, for and by the people remains to be seen. At least the conversation is trending in that direction.¬† –Paul Chaney