The vandals took the handle

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Government needs to get real about engagement

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When the Obama administration announced, earlier this year, that “government does not have all the answers and public officials need to draw on what citizens know”, it was one giant step for democracy.

But as US bureaucrats have started appearing on Twitter and other social media outlets to engage directly with the people, it has only highlighted the deficiencies of government here in Australia.

Politicians, some government agencies and even local councils here have followed the move to social media, however in reality it is little more than tinkering around the edges.  When all is said and done, our government at all levels, remains firmly rooted in its tradition of tightly controlling what the masses are told. By their very nature, our bureaucrats are too risk averse to readily relinquish control over a community conversation that inevitably must slip from their grasp in an increasingly connected age.

The declining use of traditional media means that marketing messages via advertising is fast becoming pointless.  A large proportion of people now get their news online yet blogs largely remain a mystery to our bureaucrats. And, an increasingly empowered populace is generally not interested, or even wary, of glossy newsletters, flyers or websites that seem little more than electronic brochures.

As in America and the UK,  the public here wants to engage directly with government in a shared conversation that can only strengthen our democracy. Like those two countries, now is the moment for our government and its bureaucrats to change their corporate culture into a new model  where people, conversation and community are genuinely at the heart of everything they do. 

Ian

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Written by ianandsue

June 10, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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