Archives for the month of: May, 2010

The state I happen to live in is at the forefront of an interesting wave in public policy, one which is inevitable. The Maryland Board of Elections is considering taking actions to regulate the social media usage of candidates and campaigns.

Day 36/366.....I Voted by Flickr user Denise Cross

'Day 36/366.....I Voted' by Flickr user Denise Cross

A quick scan shows that many candidates and campaigns have begun to tap into the low-cost power of the social Web — many creating Facebook Pages and using them as campagn hubs. But this is an area that is unregulated and unwatched. (Here is an interesting article from the Manila Times going in-depth into the issue in their local context.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, according to DC-area news powerhouse WTOP:

In campaign races across the country, people are setting up fake Facebook and Twitter accounts in order to spread false information about rival candidates. . . . The board is working on rules that would allow the board to put an official seal of authenticity on social network sites that are used by campaigns.

“We would require the authority line on that Facebook page, somewhere on it in visible fashion,” says Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland Board of Elections.

Twitter accounts would be subject to the rules, too, and spreading lies would be subject to the same rules as currently apply to spreading fake literature.

Report available from PACE

Click image for the report (pdf)

I’m excited to announce the release of a new report I wrote for Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), an important group of funders who do grantmaking in the civic participation and dialogue field.

Titled An Evolving Relationship – Executive Branch Approaches to Civic Engagement and Philanthropy, it is based on a briefing paper I wrote for a White House meeting earlier this year between leaders of the philanthropic community and Executive Branch officials. I want to thank PACE for the opportunity to work on this report, and for choosing to publish it.

This from the PACE press release:

Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) is pleased to announce the release of its latest publication, “An Evolving Relationship: Executive Branch Approaches to Civic Engagement and Philanthropy.”  This white paper is based on a briefing memo prepared for a White House meeting earlier this year between leaders of the philanthropic community and Executive Branch officials.  The meeting focused on the topics of service, civic engagement, social innovation and public participation and where there might be shared interests between the two groups. . . .

“We are at a moment that many in the civic engagement field see as a threshold. Fundamental changes are taking place in the way that citizens interact with institutions, demanding new and more creative approaches to civic engagement,” said PACE executive director Chris Gates. “The new Administration and the field of philanthropy have both made it clear that they want to be a part of the conversation about how our nation can craft a new kind of relationship between citizens, civil society and government.”

An Evolving Relationship was prepared for PACE by Brad Rourke of The Mannakee Circle Group. The paper provides a broad overview of Executive Branch approaches to civic engagement, participation, and service over the past two decades. It also describes how philanthropy has worked with the federal government on these issues over the same time frame.

The paper argues that a number of key trends in White House approaches to civic engagement are now intersecting and suggest a great deal of possibility for moving forward in the near future. Civic engagement is a clear priority for this administration and has becoming increasingly embedded in the policies and practices of a number of Federal agencies.  At the same time, key philanthropic institutions are making increasing commitments to the fields of deliberative dialogue, civic engagement and democratic practice.

For more information about PACE or this paper contact:

-Chris Gates, Executive Director of PACE at

-Brad Rourke, Mannakee Circle Group at

Just a few contrarian bullets . . . thoughts, complaints, and predictions:

  • There is a difference between a “brand” and a “label” — many label when they think they are branding.
  • There is a difference between “being online” and “having a brand.”
  • Young professionals tend to overvalue their intelligence, and undervalue others’ experience.
  • Few people want to have a “conversation” with a business or institution.
  • Twitter will fizzle out because it requires too much insider knowledge (e.g., using the @ sign to address people), but it may remain a useful platform to publish into other streams.
  • URL shorteners must go away, they are an open door to abuse and rely too heavily on user’s good will.
  • MySpace should not be counted out, if only because Rupert Murdoch knows how to make money.
  • Now that it includes just about everything, I would pay a yearly fee for Facebook.
  • AOL was ahead of its time and could have been Facebook.
  • Facebook does, however, need to fix its email system.
  • Much as I am a fanboy, I can’t imagine Google succeeding at anything in the social space.
  • In five years, geeks will say, “Remember Wave?”
  • Linux will always be the future of operating systems.
  • The government will try to regulate Facebook like a utility.
  • Too often, leaders address poor execution with new systems (e.g., the “Homeland Security” department).
  • Many organizations do not need to exist in their present form.
  • We will look back on the oughties as “the decade of the police procedural.”

Got a contrarian bullet? Let me know in the comments!

A lot of my friends are complaining about some of the recent changes Facebook has made to their terms of service and their privacy policies. People are upset that the changes were rolled out in an opt-out way. That is, you had to take a specific action to get out of the changes.

This has got a number of folks saying they are going to delete their Facebook accounts. Me? I am not planning on doing that — and not just because I happen to like Facebook. It’s because I find Facebook essential.

And, when you get down to it, I think a lot of people feel the same way. Here’s why: