Intelligent Information Sharing

Ted McLaughlan

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Automated Social Media Governance and Government 2.0

Should social media governance be automated, and to what extent?

A specific agency individual may be locally-empowered and trained to follow a procedure where, once the content is approved and loaded to the agency website with an associated press release, to further distribute the content through social media channels such as twitter, local community blogs and discussion groups, flickr and youtube. This activity, by this individual, can not only take a while, and miss important notification channels or groups, but also raises a number of questions regarding records management and government accountability:

  1. What keywords are used, to be sure that search engines find the information most efficiently?
  2. Are ALL policies, regulations and guidelines being taken into account, that may or may not be directly enforced by the “home” agency, but by other Federal oversight groups?
  3. Can the individual express opinion, either in the text copy or keywords?
    Are different social media channels and tools leveraged for different types of alerts like these, in different situations? To reach different audiences?
  4. Is there a standard and agreement by 3rd-party site owners that enables some degree of “authorized attribution” to the notice – i.e. this notice, and only in its issued form, is in fact “official”?
  5. How are records maintained of these postings and 3rd-party site updates? What about responses, are they monitored and associated with the postings, across multiple social media channels?

What’s the process for correcting misinformation, or “fat-fingering”?

The list of questions and concerns can quickly become very long, and range from the very abstract and strategic to very precise and tactical.

Therefore, the concept of “Automated Social Media Governance” is raised. During the process of creating, staging, publishing, distributing and monitoring digital content released to the Internet via Social Media channels, there exist many opportunities to (A) automate these new information lifecycle processes, (B) automatically enforce social media information management policies and (C) automatically monitor and respond to associated social media events.

It is important to note here the distinction between “digital content” and “digital assets” – in this paper we’re not focusing on digital content that’s expressly generated and monitored for revenue-generation purposes, and that has explicit monetary value (for example, widgets, photos or documents for sale). Rather, we’re focusing on digital content that by itself has no explicit value, but simply is an outcome of the corporation or agency’s communication or collaboration mission with the public. Digital Asset Socialization requires automated social media governance, but also requires additional governance and techniques associated with intellectual property protection, financial management and transactions, and cost recovery objectives.

Automating information lifecycle processes isn’t a new concept – but automating the business processes and 3rd-party tool utilization required to leverage social media, in a manner that integrates with internal SOA/ESB, Content and Records Management capabilities, is. Consider the creation of a blog-style comment with keywords and trackback url(s) within a corporate content management system. The creation of this information package can be appropriately recorded and approved with existing tools. The actual auto-selection and approval of 3rd-party destinations, “scrub” of content and keywords for appropriateness or policy, creation of a standardized “information exchange package” and release of information with appropriate attribution and security enforcement from the official source of record to the “open source” Internet community is a new concept. This concept isn’t yet built into typical enterprise web content management and publishing systems, and is usually always a mishmash of personal or office initiative, conflicting, ambiguous or casually-interpreted policies, and redundant, overlapping activities with no strategic plan. The ability to automatically track, monitor and perhaps respond to misuse, reuse or other manual or automatic reactions to the content that’s been posted isn’t part of typical enterprise web content management systems, either.

Should social media governance be automated, and to what extent? There’s one broad camp of opinion that espouses social media should be largely unfettered by heavy-handed policies and restrictive, burdensome data management processes (though obviously required in most secure government contexts) – it interferes with creativity, natural human interaction and the original intent of “social” Internet tools. Then there’s the very risk-adverse, highly-accountable camp of realists who by mission, job function or legislation must consider very closely the impacts of allowing unregulated information-sharing to cross corporate or agency boundaries of control. Regardless of the side of the control spectrum, there’s no doubt that some degree of social media governance automation can be helpful for risk mitigation, productivity or value optimization reasons. Simply including social media posts in the web content management workflow is probably a good idea, if only to record the outbound communication and targets, as well as preserve things like photos and videos in the format they were released for chain-of-custody and legal discovery purposes.

Blackstone Technology Group is currently helping many commercial and government clients navigate the Social Media environment, whether from a governance, policy and investment perspective, or from an information management and process automation perspective. This topic is raised now in nearly every discussion where user-driven collaboration and communication results in production of digital content that’s currently not managed or monitored by corporate systems, processes or policies. Blackstone can provide the expertise your company or agency needs to understand information sharing and management concepts associated with the use of Social Media and Web 2.0 tools, including implementation, governance, opportunities and risks. Blackstone can help you automate all the various facets of Government 2.0, Social Media Governance and Information Management, whether for purposes of publishing or collecting information through social media channels.

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Summary: Currently a Federal Enterprise Architect with Oracle, Ted has over 25 years in Commercial and Government Information Technology with University of Virginia, EDS, Accenture, KME Internet Marketing, Blackstone Technology Group, NavigationArts and CSC; additional focus recently on Interactive Design, Web 2.0 Internet Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Advertising. Specialties: Enterprise Architecture and Information Management, SOA/ESB, Enterprise Integration, Business Intelligence, Internet Safety and Security, Family Content Networks, Knowledge Management and Collaboration, User-Defined Operational Pictures/Common Operating Pictures (UDOP/COP), Situational Awareness, Portals, Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Website Design/Development and Optimization - Certified Systems Engineer - Certified Enterprise Solution Architect