A tale of 42 tweets: Highlights from my first Social Media Week in DC

Last week was “Social Media Week” here in DC. The week featured speakers, panels, workshops, events, and parties all across the District, celebrating tech and social media in the nation’s Capital, including a special edition of the DC Tech Meetup. I moderated four panels, participated in a fifth and attended what I could otherwise. I found the occasion to be a great way to meet new people around the District. Following is a storify of some of my personal highlights, as told in tweets and photographs. This is by no means representative of everyone’s experiences, which are as varied as the attendees. It’s solely what I saw and what lingered from the social media week that was.

International Open Data Hackathon on December 3, 2011

It’s time to think different about hacking.

Building upon the success of an international civic hackathons around the world in 2010, there will be Random Hacks of Kindness and International Open Data Day hackathons on six different continents on December 3rd, 2011. If you’re interested in volunteering for a different kind of public service, check out the wiki to see if there’s an event near you.

The International Open Data Hackathon in DC will be held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The organizers encourage attendees to “bring ideas, your laptop, and help create solutions to make data more open and make better use of open data.” The list of attendees is already filling up with interesting people, including members of Washington’s open government and technology communities. The DC open data hackathon is hosted by Wikimedia DC and sponsored by civic startup PopVox.

The 411 on Digital Capitol Week on 1.1.11: 11.4.11 through 11.11.2011

Digital Capital Week is coming back to the United States Capital on November 4th, 2011. In a livestream today, the organizers of the inaugural 2010 event announced the data and opened the gates for DC Week registration and ideas for events and outcomes. They’re planning on 10,000 attendees this year.

If you missed it last year, Digital Capital Week showcased technological innovation in Washington. Following the success of last year’s event, it’s safe to expect some kind of  “Gov 2.0 and Org. 2.0 Day” event, with sessions on nonprofits and social media, government transparency, cloud computing and privacy, mobile technology in 21st Century statecraft,  online engagement, the digital divide and open leadership. Here’s the details on this year’s festival, along with statistics from last year:

DCWEEK 2011 Overview

The 411 on DC Week 2011

DCWEEK is a week long festival in the US capital focused on bringing together designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and social innovators of all kinds.

It’s a series of 100s of distributed events powered by the community and complemented by core conferences, parties, and projects created by the festival organizers iStrategyLabs and Tech Cocktail. DCWEEK 2010 was assembled in 3.5 months and drew 6,000 attendees from around the world. This year we’re planning on 10,000+.

What you can do now:

  1. Submit an idea and we’ll make it happen: http://bit.ly/dcw11ideas
  2. Join the Facebook Group to meet others: http://bit.ly/dcweekfb11
  3. Follow us on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dcweek use #DCWEEK
  4. Explore the full website: http://www.digitalcapitalweek.org
  5. For sponsorship or other info email: goto@digitalcapitalweek.org
  6. View the full overview, including last year’s metrics: http://bit.ly/dcweek10mets

This was a terrific event last year and promises to be even bigger in 2011.

Social media, local government and elections: reflections on COGEL and @DCBOEE

This week, I was proud to be one of two speakers for a session on social media and government at the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) conference in Washington, D.C. I delivered an adapted version of the talk on social media and government I gave the Social Security Administration’s Open Government Awareness Day earlier this year, focusing on the elements that would be of greatest interest to a group of lawyers, regulators and academics. The presentation is embedded below:

The speaker that followed me, however, was able to share a fascinating view of what social media looks like from inside of government, specifically in the District of Columbia. Alysoun McLaughlin, the public affairs manager for the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. Here’s her bio, from the COGEL session description:

She joined the District last year, just in time to implement a long list of reforms for the 2010 election including new voting equipment, early voting and same-day registration. Prior to becoming an election official, she was a project manager for Election Initiatives at the Pew Center on the States. She previously spent a decade as a Washington lobbyist, focusing on election issues for the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Association of Counties. She is here today to share her experience with social media during the 2010 election.

And share she did. Over the course of half an hour, she talked about Facebook, Twitter, local media, citizen engagement and much more. I captured most of her presentation on my iPhone (sorry about the unsteady hand) and have embedded her presentation, “To Tweet or not to Tweet: Engaging the Public through Social Media,” below.

If you want an excellent, practical perspective of the local government side of social media, these are worth watching. A couple of key takeaways from her presentation:

  • How can governments get insights from Twitter without using it? “Just type in the name of your agency and see what they’re saying.”
  • On D.C. elections: “We know there are going to be lines. Come to the website to see what they are.”
  • Don’t trust this to an intern. You “need someone skilled in crisis communications.”
  • “The days that I’m heavy on Twitter are the days my phone rings less.”
  • Viral tweets can raise awareness: “…and we just confirmed that a voter used a write-in stamp. on a touch screen.”

Part 1: Introductions

Part 2: Reflections on Twitter and Facebook

Part 3: Twitter and the 2010 DC Election

Part 4: Who follows @DCBOEE

Part 5: Listening and using social media in government

Washington, D.C. publishes its first digital divide strategy

The digital divide in D.C. is an issue that has been receiving increased sunlight under the District’s chief technology officer, Bryan Sivak. As the Kojo Nnamdi Show episode on the D.C. digital divide reported, “a 2009 study by the OCTO found that the digital divide runs very deep in the city – 90% of residents in Northwest D.C. have high-speed internet access in their homes, but in Southeast, that figure falls to just 36% – 40%.”

Earlier this year, Washington became the recipient of stimulus funding for a digital divide initiative. This summer, the city turned on free wifi in many neighborhoods, which can be viewed at DC.wifi.gov. Today, Sivak announced D.C.’s first digital divide strategy:

Proud to announce the release of DC’s first ever strategic plan for addressing the digital divide: http://octo.dc.gov/octostrategyless than a minute ago via Chromed Bird

It’s embedded below in the post. Interestingly, the digital divide strategy announcement at the Office of the Chief Technology Officer of D.C. indicated that it would be a “living document,” much like the Web itself:

OCTO is pleased to release a public draft of the District of Columbia’s first ever strategic plan to address the digital divide. This is intended to be a living document, updated quarterly or bi-annually as conditions warrant, and will reflect the current high-level vision of the District Government as it relates to tackling this important issue. Feedback is welcome so please feel free to share your thoughts and help us bridge this gap.

Digital Divide Strategy

For a feel for the thinking of the DC CTO on this count, watch Sivak’s closing statement from the District of Columbia’s first-ever “Community Broadband Summit” (DC-CBS) is embedded below. The summit was a public forum designed to address the city’s digital divide.

Bryan Sivak – Closing Remarks from DCNET Multimedia on Vimeo.

It’s not clear whether Sivak will stay on under incoming Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray’s administration. If not, here’s hoping his replacement works with the D.C. tech community to connect more citizens to the Internet. Online access has become a vital link for information, services, access to jobs, education and communication with family, friends, teachers and coworkers in the 21st century. The District should be commended for continuing to working to bridge it.

What do you think of the strategy? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Data BBQ features District tech entrepreneurs, passion and tasty open data.

Get off your index and build your Rolodex,” read the invite to last night’s Data BBQ in Washington, D.C.

And last night, that’s exactly what over a hundred people from around D.C.’s growing tech scene did, spilling out of the revamped officers of Insomniac Design in Bladgen Alley, near Mount Vernon Square.

The crowd was leavened with many attendees from the ongoing mHealth Summit 2010, manyof DC’s open data geeks and supporters and. Expert Labs’ Gina Trapani and Waxy.org’s Andy Baio came by from the FCC’s Open Developer Day to mix and mingle too. The highlight of the Data BBQ was the lightning talks, where attendees pitched projects, ideas, jobs or even spare rooms to the crowd. The talks are embedded below:

Many of the mHealth conferees no doubt know about the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge from the Department of Health and Human Services, where health data is being mashed up into new applications.

And, judging by the show of hands, many of the Data BBQ’ers had also heard about the World Bank’s Global Apps for Development Competition, which is looking to the development and practitioner communities to create innovative apps using World Bank data.

What might have been new to a few, at least, was the upcoming Apps for Army competition for the public, where the successful apps competition that Peter Corbett and iStrategy Labs helped the Army run will be rebooted for wider participation.