Friday, April 13, 2007

The Pine Cone Manifesto

I've been asked to write a manifesto on using social media in the Forest Service. Having never written one, the prospect is a bit daunting. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful idea. We already have an ample supply of strategic plans, mission statements, goals and objectives. A manifesto implies an urgency, perhaps even an insurgency. Frankly, we need to light some fires to revive the spirit of this organization.

When Aldo Leopold became deputy supervisor on the Carson in 1911, he founded and edited a forest newsletter called The Pine Cone. In the first issue, Leopold stated his objective was to promote esprit de corps. He also asked his rangers to contribute articles so that their collective knowledge would help the Forest Service better serve the public. We need to do the same today.

Pine cones are a great metaphor. They contain within themselves the seeds of their own regeneration. If the Forest Service is to continue as a model of what government can be, and should be, change and growth must come from the inside. We need to tap the intelligence and skills of a very talented workforce. I believe that social media can help to do that. But, like pine cones, it often takes a fire to open.

Note: By starting this thread, I am asking you to help write The Pine Cone Manifesto as a collective document. We expect that it will soon be part of an editable wiki that you can all edit. For now, I would love to have your comments.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Citizendium: A New and Better Wikipedia?

Wikipedia proves to be too wild for its founder Larry Sanger. So he recently unveiled The Next Big Thing: Citizendium to improve on his earlier Big Thing.

Citizendium about is a good read and links to "fundamentals" that detail some advantages relative to Wikipedia.

Essentially, Citizendium (sit-ih-ZEN-dee-um) will adhere to the following principles:

Content to be:
  • accurate
  • based on common experience, published, credible research, and expert opinion
  • neutral in this sense
  • legal and responsible
  • family-friendly (i.e.content "that we wouldn't be ashamed to have our kids read.")
System to be developed and improved via:
  • Collaboration
  • Volunteerism
  • Moderation (i.e. maintain well-defined, credible editorial committees)
  • Simplicity
  • Adaptivity
  • Commercial-free atmosphere
  • Open access contributions, improvements (but subject to review to help avoid vandalism, bias, etc.)
  • Transparency (contributors, editors, etc. have to use their real names)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Blog Rollups, Aggregators, and Such

Anyone who have been dabbling in the blogsphere even as long as I have realizes how very soon one is overwhelmed by information, chat, twitter, and so on.

Some help is obtained by using blog (or other "feed") readers that allow you to read quickly read and share what you find helpful. These readers help you see what has recently emerged since your last visit. Each user creates a personalized reader list (easily) that allows you to share "gems" either on your blog or via email. I use Google's Blog Reader, but there are several others and I don't have any idea which are the best, easiest, etc.

Other help includes what I call "blog rollups", that automatically rollup the latest from a someone else's defined list..

Here, for example, is what Bill Parke (University of N. Carolina) rolls up from 100+ Economics blogs, titled Economics Roundtable.

Note that on the left sidebar of Economics Roundtable one can click on any of the listed commentators (each a blog) and see a recent history of all the posts at any particular blog (among those aggregated).

Another example, dealing more with finance than economics is David Jackson's Seeking Alpha (a commercial site with advertising). Note that Bill Parke also has a Finance Roundtable that includes the Seeking Alpha materials (all or some, I don't know). Parke also as a law rollup and a politics rollup

Then there is the whole field of News Aggregators. I know little of any of this, other than what I dabble with in Google News' personalized search.

Happy Surfing

Brain Dump

There are countless ways in which the Forest Service can use social media to better fulfill its mission. Here a some ideas. What would you add to this list?

Leadership blogs - From the Chief on down, leaders can communicate more directly with employees, partners, visitors, issues stakeholders and the public at large.

Employee social networks - increase esprit de corps with personal spaces for any employee that wants one.

Wiki knowledge bases - capture organizational expertise and institutional memory as we undergo transformational changes and face massive retirements.

Online agoras - create a market for excess property, details, and housing opportunities using a "craigslist" or "ebay" approach.

Podcast significant conferences or speeches.

Team blogs - are used to exchange ideas among a particular community of interest or community of practice (see Dave Iverson's blogs)

Wikis and/or forums - are used to supplement public meetings and comments for planning and other purposes.

Newsletters can be reinvigorated as daily blog journals with contributions from the readers.

Wikis can replace static and outmoded user guides, keeping specialists up-t0-date with best practices. Employees can post questions to a FAQ center, to which anyone with an answer can respond.

Mashups of Google Maps are a powerful tool for any kind of land-based project or delivering recreation information. Allow users to generate most of the information.

Use Tags to let users supply much of the metadata for online records such as Forest Service photographs.