Social Media

For some time now I have been watching the development of using Quick Response (QR) codes. Although they have been around for many years, the adoption has become more popular in the last couple of years.  However, it seems governments have had a slower adoption. I have read many articles that say they are worth the effort and some articles that say they are not effective.  Honestly, to create a QR code is pretty easy and only takes about a minute of your time to generate. I have been using a free site via Google. I log into my Google account, then type in my browser, put in a link and it not only will generate a QR code, but also a short link. I can check back later to see the statistics on my link/QR Code. For the end consumer, it is still a cumbersome process on my smart phone, as I have to open up my barcode scanner, scan and then wait a second or two for the code to be recognized, then my smart phone prompts to open in browser. 

I can see how using QR codes on a lot of publications is beneficial, whereby you can provide additional information to your consumers. However, it is super important to have a mobile optimized website.  I do not see the use of a QR codes being of much value is when displayed on billboards.  How on earth I am going to scan a billboard going 60 miles per hour?  Do you think I will jump out of my car to possibly try to scan something that is probably too far away? No.  
I also see organizations putting the codes directly on their website. Well….needless to say, I’m already on the website, why would I then want to scan the code to go to another page? How, why and what you use QR codes for is important to your audience. So be aware of places to put them that are easily available for scanning.  
Recent articles:
Other uses:

My Scribd Document:


December 4, 2010

Ahhh…it is cool outside, just enough to layer up or down, and I have the day to myself. I like to take times like this to reflect on things going on in my life. Of course, this is also close to Christmas and I like to reflect on sharing, giving and the many blessings I have had in the past year, in my life.

I’m very blessed to have two sons, one being an adult now, the other still at home. Some days are very challenging. I try to step back and think about the good moments we have. The many hugs my younger one still gives me and the insightful conversations my older one contributes. Yesterday I walked up to the mall (1.1 miles), not just for exercise, but also to be an example to my boys. We live close to many places and we should not be beyond ourselves to walk. During my walk, which is always a reflection in itself, I remembered when I was my older son’s age, and did not have a automobile and walked everywhere (and of course I was much skinner then too). I worry too much about the “me generation” and so many things we take advantage of. One of them being, that we do have an automobile, and sometimes we can save gas, the environment, and get a little exercise to go somewhere close.

I also reflect on the many blessings I have had in my career this year. I had spent last two years, engrossing myself into the Government realm of Social Media. As always I try to take on every new challenge as a learning experience.  I learned so many new things, especially, how citizen engagement, participation and collaboration are so vital to our government moving forward. This year,  I received recognition through Government Technology Magazine, MuniGov, and from several of Florida’s Chief Information Officer’s (CIO), as a leading expert for State of Florida government in social media. Although it has presented many challenges  specifically the acceptance and participation of social media/networking in state government, it is often hard for the acceptance of something visionary as social media. Those that have embraced it, haven’t used social media to it’s fullest. It is not always about pushing information out, but to have a conversation and join in that conversation of where the people are.  That is often the missing piece.   I have enjoyed leading some of Florida forward in their quest, however, in the past few months I have taken on some new journeys.

There is a saying something like….when a window closes a door opens…..

Years ago I discovered that I loved being in the technology field. I had found my niche back then and still currently love and have a passion for technology.   After all these years, I can now take my technological knowledge and extended in the classroom.  As far as I can remember, I wanted to teach.  Mrs. Hughes was my 4th grade teacher and I wanted to be just like her. When I got into high school I spent a summer teaching vacation bible school around southern Michigan. Even though I have been in the technology field for the past 15 years, it has taken me many years to obtain the educational credentials I needed to teach at the academic level (oddly never wanted to teach at K-12 levels). I know have the opportunity before me to teach technology classes at the community college.

Although I still plan to stay involved at the state level for social media, I am excited about the opportunities that I can be part of for social media in academics. How faculty can use social media to engage their students.

In the midst of all the holiday busyness take some time to reflect.

One of the many things I do love about my job is the flexibility to work remotely. There are occasions when I work from a coffee shop.  Why? Is the ambiance? Is it all the interesting people you see and hear? Can I really serve people via my laptop from a coffee shop? Certainly. I’m sure I am not the only one out there that does.

I do find that when I sit in the office from 9-4:30 my creative juices do not always flow. I get most of my inspiration when I am in an environment less stifling.

In the past few years, many government offices have struggled with office space lease issues and the rising cost of letting employees have offices. Having cubicles in some situations provides a cost savings. However, in a cubicle, you sometimes have less productivity, as you hear everything around you and it can be distracting (that is where the earbuds come in handy). There are also the phone calls, whether personal or business, then you end up with cubie conversations through the walls. I’m not saying that all cubicle offices present the same observations, many government agencies that do have cubicles also have a very controlled environment for quietness. Additionally, in situations, where you do have cubicles or shared offices, you end up with a very small working space. I have now started seeing three people in one office, with just about a coffee shop size desk. Really all you need is a laptop (with security of course), phone, and your office in your briefcase or backpack these days.

Moreover, trust plays a key factor in being able to telecommute as some employees can work very independently and some cannot. There are many articles on the web that you can search for effective telecommuting and your specific government guidelines or policies.

Relating this back to social media and how part of social media/networking is having a “conversations” with others. When you go to a coffee shop, part of the ambiance is to have “conversations” with other people. Respect their thoughts and opinions and hearing their stories is all part of being at a coffee shop. So you might be asking, how can someone be productive with all the talking around you, my opinion it is no different than someone standing in your office space talking to you.

Last food for thought – Have you thought about what your office/agency would do in the event of a disaster and how you would carry on services to citizens?

So why not, buy a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the ambiance of the coffee shop, support your local businesses and let the creative juices flow.

I have been a social media/networking advocate for the past year. I have really enjoyed seeing all the ways government has opened up and embraced using social M/N tools to enhance their communications with their constituents. However, many governments are still in the beginning stages of figuring out how to use the tools, create a strategy and how to deal with providing two-way conversation. As I have been out and about doing lectures, webinars, conference speaking and meetings with different managers regarding social M/N, I hear common concerns throughout the conversations. What about public records and how do we manage either requests, and providing the information and achieving?

Well, it is really no different than we have been doing for years. Some of you may have been with government when it first started using E-Mail. People were scared to use it at first. It took a while for all employees to embrace and use as a business tool. Then came the how do we archive and provide public records? Needless to say, we (government) found ways to take care of that. It may not have been right when e-mail was implemented, but eventually we got there.

Now that technology has progressed we are at that cross road again. How do we archive and provide public records for social M/N? Slowly, but surely, it is coming.

One question I am asked a lot is, “so if there are ways to archive, where do we find this information?” So I have provided a list of a few tools that might be helpful. I have tested each one of these and all work very well. I have provided different options, because we all know that the government blocks websites and many agencies do not allow employees to download and install software. If you choose to use any of these, it might be helpful to include the process in your procedures.


TWInbox – Outlook plug-in that works directly within Outlook. By creating folders you can keep a copy of tweets sent and received. This plug-in is free. (You will need install rights to install the plug-in). See demonstration.

TweeTake– offers options for archiving. This is free. (Comment: I have heard many people say they like this option. No software download and can bring the zip file into a spreadsheet program.) See demonstration.

Please note that these are 3rd party tools that require you to put in the Twitter username and password. You may want to change your Twitter password frequently using a strong password.


SocialSafe – Facebook backup – This plug-in is cost $2.99. It will archive the main profile and things associated, not fan pages. (You will need install rights to install on your computer).

Firefox Plugin– Free. Creates a “zip” file. It will archive the main profile and things associated, not fan pages. (You will need install rights to install the plug-in).

Updated – 6/01/2010 – PageFreezer – creates a digital snapshots on a schedule that you set. This service charges a monthly fee.

Wayback Machine – Much like PageFreezer, this also creates digital snapshots.

Please note that these are 3rd party tools. You may want to change your password frequently using a strong password. Keep in mind with 3rd party tools and services, that you have no control as to when those sites are functioning or not.

There are many PDF tools available, where you can open your page and create a PDF by doing a Print to PDF option. A free PDF maker I use is PDFCreator. Here are a couple more that are also free PDF995 | PrimoPDF (You will need install rights to install the plug-in). (Comment: I do not usually use this method, because it seems like with Facebook pages never really PDF right.)

There are probably many more tools out there. This is just to get you started.

I am also including this link, as an example of Washington Secretary of State’s advice and resources for electronic records.

Resource for Government’s in Florida – Social Media iToolKit

*Disclaimer: I have worked for government for nearly 20 years; however I am not a public records expert. Please contact your records management or legal office for specific information about your retention schedules and laws.

Hope this is helpful to get you started. Feel free to add what tools or procedures you use to archive your Twitter, Facebook or other Social M/N sites.

Today I participated in my first International online class for using Moodle. What a neat experience. The teacher and facilitators of the class used a live software tool to make the course interactive.  Not only where the students from all over the world, the teachers were too.   The main teacher was broadcasting live from Israel and another from Mexico. Many participants were K-12 teachers, professors, graduate students, administrators and IT specialists. I have been monitoring the Flat Classroom project, where high schools kids connect with kids in China, via live sessions like this; however, I have not really experienced many international sessions like this myself in a synchronous environment. Most of the classes in the past that I have taken have mainly been asynchronous.

Even at this day and age, the main focus for online learning is in the area of pedagogy, not andragogy. The mix between the two are very important to me, as I have been teaching Senior Citizens and other adults. Teaching adults has always been at the heart of what I wanted to do in life. Over the last year I have become heavily involved in social media/networking strategies and projects with my current employer and how these tools can be used in various aspects of e-learning. I’m not by far the most acclaimed expert in e-learning; however, I do know that using different methods is essential in teaching in a synchronous/asynchronous environment.  Additionally, how adult learners can use social networking in their learning processes. How can using the social networking (or Web 2.0/3.0) be integrated into the motivation and learning strategies for adults?  How can we use these social networking tools to break down the digital divide that still exists? How can we use the social networking tools to further the informal learning processes for adults? As the use of social media/networking tools continues to be adapted world-wide, there will be many choices now and in the future for providing many ways for e-learning to occur.

I think back to when I was young and how I would visit my grandparents on Saturday’s. Not only did we watch the Lawrence Welk show, we listened to the Beach Boys on an 8-Track. Not long after that came cassette tapes, then CD with CD Players, now music players the size of your thumb or less. The adaptation for listening to music to what it is now, has happened over a 40-60 year span. The last 5-10 years e-learning has become much more popular, thus, still has a long way to go.

“Since we live in an age of innovation, a practical education must prepare a man for work that does not yet exist and cannot yet be clearly defined.” ~Peter F. Drucker

A personal note: I have learned so much from using social networking tools from so many experts. If these software tools had never come to be, I would still be in my own little silo.

You are welcome to comment; however, all opinions and comments written in the post are solely my opinions.


This is somewhat of a social media success story. On August 13, 2009 I posted up a document on Scribd. Scribd is a free social media document sharing site. The document in my mind was considered draft since I was still working on it. I really only uploaded so I could access it via mobile.  The document: Computer Basics for Seniors. I was using this for teaching materials for classes I have been teaching. Yes, I created on my own personal time and computer. Two days after I posted the document it was picked up by Scribd and on the feature list, which is the list you see of recommendations after you login.  Four days, after the initial posting, the document was on the Hit list. The hit list is a direct document under the category. All of this was totally unexpected. As of September 16, this document has had 2, 619 reads, 1,378 downloads. My account currently has over 2,800 people wanting to subscribe to my area for future documents. Needless to say, I don’t really have time to approve all 2,800+ subscribers. Screens and screens of clicks. During all of this the document was also Tweeted and Re-tweeted several times, by others (not me, since I only considered it draft). The document has become viral as those 1300+ people have shared it and then others have shared and so on.  In the past I have posted documents to my personal website and never received this much exposure.

My point is that unexpectedly your agency can become a social media success practically overnight. Social Media sites can help with getting the exposure your information needs. The information becomes viral. Additionally, be sure something is “final” unless you intend to post a “draft” as everything online is public and permanent, so don’t post drafts you’re not willing to have others see.  🙂

I was recently e-conversing with a colleague on using social networking (SN) tools during a pandemic. How would you get information out? How would citizens know that it is valid information? There is deep concern about security, spoofing and false information on SN sites. I thought about this for a long time and really came up with the conclusion that I don’t think there is a clear answer, nor am I an expert. I can certainly give you my opinion.

If a pandemic were to occur, there more than likely should be many avenues that the information is pushed out.

As I have been teaching computer basics classes to Senior Citizens, the awareness that not everyone has a computer and could not depend on that for information dissemination, is a vast reality. Many Seniors depend on computers at the library or community centers, as other do too.  We cannot expect them to go buy a computer just to receive information. I have some students that have never used a mouse or keyboard. Mousing and keyboard are the hardest for them to learn, especially when your arthritis is acting up.

So this goes back to how to get information out, as elderly are more prone to catch the flu, they would not be interested in going out to a community center in risk of catching the flu.  So it’s back to the TV, radio and phone. Have information on the TV right after the Price Is Right! Or maybe twitter via WebTV.

The digital divide still exists even though the window is slowing closing. Senior Citizens are just a part of the population.

One of the issues employers might have to address is that some positions that normally wouldn’t be able to work at home, would have to be allowed to. Does that put a burden on the employer to have to supply computers and internet access for all employees that have to stay home. What about positions that share equipment? Some jobs still have restrictions on telecommuting, so would they have to open up their policies to allow more employees to telecommute or work 100% from home. Many employers and government agencies are sticklers for their policies and procedures. However, telecommuting in a pandemic will ultimately fail unless very precise expectations are set early on and the infrastructure is funded.

So the quick answer – go back to the non-electronic way and have multiple ways of dispersing information.

Information on staying safe on social networking sites.

While you are deciding to get involved in social media, be sure do some research before hand. Research is important to know the audience, the demographics and to match the right tool with your purpose. There have already been some research studies and statistics generated for certain social media tools reaching different age groups. For starters check out: Pew Internet & American Life Project, Collection Gov’t links on Delicious for social media, Quantcast, and the list goes on and on. You get the point.

Keep informed about legal issues. Always check with your legal office, as I cannot give you legal advice. For starters check out:  Media case lawsuits – Bloggers, Legal guide for bloggers, for government – check your state attorney general’s office for any legal opinions.  Point is to stay informed.

And last..but not least….don’t forget about accessibility. Accessibility is not only making sure anyone can access, it is also making sure that people with disabilities can access your social media content. Some tools are accessible and some are not. WebAim has a lot of good content and training resources to help you make sure your content is accessible.

Do you ever feel like you are in a tug of war with life? Today was a very frustrating day, as I realized the distinct feeling that I was caught in the middle of two office directors. Turf wars of media vs. technology. With social media expanding the capabilities of how companies or government agencies provide their message out there, there is a piece that bridges both the social media and technology. Technology provides the infrastructure and social media provides the content.  We used to call it New Communications Technology. When content sits on top of the technology and they are both served up in a webpage or others, such as Twitter, YouTube and blogging, you then get an intermingled mix of them being intertwined as one entity. For the customer, it does not matter the backend infrastructure, they just want their content up and running at fast lightening speed. Most importantly, media and technology need to collaborate together to provide the best possible experience to the customer. So my learning bullet for today, was to step back and take a moment to reflect and remember that sometimes turf wars are not about me. I still have a lot to learn as a social media advocate to provide leadership with a influence, innovation and motivation.

Twitter is totally AWESOME! Yesterday I was able to watch conversations as I was following two conferences that I could not physically attend.  #govwebcon and #TE2 via  Today I demoed it to a co-worker while I was helping her with her Facebook page.  So if you get a chance visit her new facebook group for Chinsegut Nature Center.

Now that I have been an innovator advocate for social media in government, it is truly encouraging to see the WhiteHouse on twitter now. I think it will give a true leadership example to other government agencies.  I’m also glad to see that they are following other government agencies. I feel that we should support each others efforts by following other government agency — State and Local too.

Next Page »