Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A few thoughts about social media and e-government

In the whole world and even in democratic United States, there is a wide gap between the government's ability to monitor its citizens, and citizens' ability to monitor their government. While the government is dramatically increasing its surveillance of citizens, the average citizen has little information about who in government is making key decisions, and who influences these decisions. There is also a lack of efficient access for the citizens to communicate with and report to government. The government should pay close attention to social media, help solidify the bi-directional communications between government and citizens and build a strong e-Government not only center on the operations of government but also include citizen engagement and participation in governance.

It is beneficial for local and state governments to integrate social media into their existing communication, collaboration, and community approaches. Informed citizens are the basis of participation in democracy just as James Madison said “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.” And the ideas of citizens should be accessed to the policy makers. A responsible, accountable government should know and understand what the citizens are demanding or complaining.

President Obama’s memorandum titled “Transparency and Open Government” triggered a development of social media applications. Government 2.0 starts a new generation of Internet technologies in government: highly interactive social networking services that allow real-time information sharing and bidirectional communication between citizens and government. It provides positive proof that they are supporting the connection and networking needs of citizens. And it brings convenience for citizens to report negative events and give feedbacks. An e-government is more open to the public and I believe transparency is the basis of trust and belief. Although we still have a long way to go in social media and e-government, we can believe that we would go further and the trend would not stop.

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