Following Twitter and Facebook, White House experiments with LinkedIn for questions

Over the course of the last year, the White House has experimented with each of the leading social media platforms to solicit questions and host conversations around events. This week in Silicon Valley, the nation could watch online to see if a LinkedIn forum could generate useful results. The White House Council on Jobs and Effectiveness hosted a session on job creation that featured questions submitted from LinkedIn. Archived video from the forum is embedded below, with an updated discussion at the end of the post.

Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra wrote more about this Palo Alto jobs session at the White House blog:

I’ll be joining Jobs Council Members Steve Case, John Doerr, Sheryl Sandberg, as well as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on a panel moderated by the Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine Chris Anderson. The panel will focus on issues that impact entrepreneurs and high growth businesses, as well the importance of innovation, entrepreneurship and high growth companies to our economy. During the Session, Council members will respond to questions and comments from people across the country submitted via LinkedIn and Facebook.

Add your voice to the dialogue by sending us your questions and comments:

  • Right now, you can post your questions and comments on the White House LinkedIn group. Here’s what we’re looking for:
    • What questions do you have for Steve Case, John Doerr, Reed Hastings and Sheryl Sandberg about accelerating growth and job creation for innovative companies?
    • What policy recommendations would you want them to consider for their report to the President?
    • What are some of the obstacles you’re facing with regard to your workforce and finding talent?
    • What have you found to be successful practices in hiring and managing your workforce
  • Watch live on Tuesday, August 2nd at 1:00 p.m. ET/ 10:00 a.m PT on www.whitehouse.gov/live

More platforms, more questions?

The event comes with some context. In January, AskObama was on YouTube. In April, President Obama talked with Mark Zuckerbeg in what one could call the first “Facehall.” In July, Jack Dorsey moderated the first Twitter @Townhall.

Given that LinkedIn is focused on professional social networking, it’s not unreasonable to look there for questions on job creation. Whether tapping into that network works any better for soliciting questions or moderating them then ideation tools like Google Moderator, IdeaScale or UserVoice is unclear, given that the forums are not expressly designed for that purpose.

New social media platforms have emerged over the past year, of course. As the White House continues to experiment with social media, perhaps we’ll find out if Quora does politics at the White House — Congressional leaders like Paul Ryan are already there — or if the communications team tries a Google Plus Hangout, as Newt Gingrich tried earlier this summer. Given the interest that White House staff expressed in the latter platform during the White House tweetup at the recent (real life) presidential town hall at the University of Maryland, keep your eyes open.

UPDATE: Chris Anderson did a creditable job pulling from the questions on LinkedIn. After listening to them posed at the forum, however, it’s not at all clear to me that using a LinkedIn group was the ideal way to enable a distributed audience to submit questions. There are many platforms that have been built specifically for ideation that might make more sense to apply. Still, as a first experiment, this produced a series of questions for the moderator to pose that might not otherwise have been posed.

The WhiteHouse blog post on the forum of tech leaders included a statement from Chopra about three clarifications to existing immigration policies that can enable entrepreneurs to start companies here:

“First, we’re clarifying what it means to declare entrepreneurship in the national interest. Second, in an H1B visa, typically temporary in nature, the question is: Can you come in as an immigrant founder? If there’s a way to demonstrate that there’s a separation between your role as founder and that role as employee, you have the ability to pursue that existing avenue. Third, we have a category that exists called the EB5 visa for immigrant investors. If you’re willing to invest 1 million dollars in the United States and create 10 new jobs you have the authority to come in under this condition. But it’s a complicated process and we only use half the alloted slots. So we’re streamlining the process and making this more attractive for folks who want to create jobs in industries for the future”

 

Platforms for citizensourcing emerge in Egypt


As people watching the impact of social media in the events in Egypt know, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube played a role. Today, Microsoft’s director of public sector engagement, Mark Drapeau, sent word that the Redmond-based software company’s open source ideation platform, Town Hall, has been deployed at nebnymasr.org to collect ideas.

The highest profile implementation of Town Hall to date was for crowdsourcing ideas in Congress for the incoming Republican majority in Congress at “America Speaking Out.

This Town Hall instance and others show how citizensourcing platforms can be tailored to channel feedback around specific topics, as opposed to less structured platforms. As governments and citizens try to catalyze civic engagement using the Internet, creating better architectures for citizen participation will be critical. Clay Shirky’s talk about the Internet, citizenship and lessons for government agencies at the Personal Democracy Forum offered some insight on that count. Using taxonomies to aggregate ideas instead of a single list was a key takeaway.

To date, the Egyptian citizensourcing site has logged a few dozen questions and votes. Whether usage of the site will grow more or not is up for debate. The network effect may working against it. As ReadWriteWeb reported last week, Egyptians are using Google Moderator to brainstorm Egypt’s future. Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who played a role in Egypt’s recent revolution, started a Google Moderator page for Egypt entitled, “Egypt 2.0, what does we need? What are our dreams?!.” To date, the Moderator instance has logged 1,361,694 votes for more than 50,000 of the ideas submitted by nearly 40,000 users.