It seems that President Obama is not the only one with a “Chief Digital Officer” (CDO) in his staff – the position seems to be important enough to have trickled down to the Mayor’s office in New York. As of January 24th, 2011, twenty-eight year old Rachel Sterne, founder of “GroundReport“*, holds the position of CDO to Mayor Bloomberg (you might remember her from a recent issue of Vogue).
Mayor Bloomberg and his team are a perfect example of how even local governments are getting increasingly involved in online/new media. And it is not just a token effort, I don’t think. In a recent interview on Morning Joe, Rachel Sterne talks (albeit briefly) about her role, and about the city’s efforts to engage with citizens using online media. There were a couple of interesting points that I think were brought up in the interview.
1. The way the government has incorporated new media into its operations
Facebook is just one of the ways, but I must say, they have a pretty looking Facebook page (as far as Facebook pages go). It tells you about events of interest, shows you pictures, and gets citizens to engage with the city.
What is really interesting, is that the Facebook page even personalizes the feed for the user (or so I would think). When I went on the page, I saw a post that a high school friend had written on someone’s wall:
The most important takeaway, however, is how Bloomberg (via Rachel) is embracing this shift to online, and making it part of mainstream. The fact that the administration is on a mission to make all of NYC a Wifi Hotspot (including parks, subways, and mabye showers?), suggests that the government is in fact promoting online/social/new media.
2. Using new media to help “urban branding”
Using new/social media helps the government stay in touch with its citizens, increase its reach, create awareness, and so on. But it also helps with the city’s urban branding. The I Love NYC campaign was one of the first really successful shots at urban branding – making NYC a destination global city. But now it’s being pushed one step further. The NYC’s Mayor’s office is using the internet and online media tools such as Instagram and Facebook to further the I Love NYC brand – they are encouraging citizens to take snaps of what their NYC looks like, and what they love about the city, and upload it via Instagram to the Facebook page (I wonder what the screening process for this is – I’m sure there have been some unflattering pictures submitted).
[Here's an interesting side note - Facebook just bought Instagram for $1 billion.]
3. The disconnect between the older and newer generations
This is really more of an observation, but the interview really showed the disconnect between the older and newer generations when it comes to online media. Joe and his hosts wanted Wifi everywhere, but gave up on Facebook after a few days and found the idea of Foursquare appalling. This raised a somewhat obvious question: How do we keep the older generations content while switching over to online – what seems to be the way forward? My younger brother is already far more comfortable than I am with everything digital and online, and I consider myself pretty tech-savvy. Generations seem to no longer be defined by birthline (parents–children–children’s children), but rather by what is going on in the world. And increasingly, “what is going on” is all about technology and the new media.
*I would like to make a quick observation about GroundReport – somehow everything on the site as I see it is about India or Pakistan. I wonder what the rest of you see…