- GovBlogging at the TSA: Saw in Wired's Threat Level this morning that the Transportation Security Agency now has a blog: Evolution of Security. (The story has since been picked up at BoingBoing.)
Taking a quick look:
- Platform: I was surprised to see that they're using Blogger (presumably, too many foreign ownership issues with LiveJournal). Since the blog is hosted on TSA servers, they won't have the full set of Blogger widgets and features (this is the problem I'm facing), though if it meets their needs, that's fine.
- Comments: They're moderating comments (see their comment policy), though allowing anonymous comments. I don't see anonymous comments lasting too long (unless they're hoping to encourage participation from TSA whistleblowers -- shyeah), in which case the installed Blogger user base and Google account and OpenID support for commenters is nice.
- Naming Names: I'm not thrilled by the lack of full names on their Meet Our Bloggers page (and they seem to be missing some folks) -- at the very least, there should be the editor's full name (presumable this Neil guy -- he seems most active).
After the fake FEMA press conference debacle, this type of government transparency is kind of important.
- Hey, Where'd Bruce Schneier Go? Well, this is new. I'm positive they had a link to security guru Bruce Schneier's blog in the sidebar (among others), but it's not there anymore. I was about to give them a brownie point for that -- I wonder when and why they removed it.
As to the impact of the blog as a whole? Openness and dialog are great, but the true test of the matter is the ability to redress problems and affect change. Just as with a corporate blog, you can only apologize so many times without actually fixing things before it hollows out your message.
- Social Media in Ethnic Conflicts: Christian Science Monitor talks about the impact of cellphones and the Internet on the coverage of the ethnic conflict in Kenya.
A lot of the unalloyed social media utopians only look at the positive benefits of social communication, and I think many still think that the Internet has a self-correcting bias towards objective truths.
I think that's crap -- when all we had was word-of-mouth, there was plenty of room for rumor, hysteria, panic, and mob madness. Social media doesn't change that, and we shouldn't forget the ability of media, both citizen and old-school, to inflame passions, spread misinformation, disinformation and propaganda, and be manipulated by interested groups.
Plus, any given online community normally faces issues with drama, trolls, and flamewars -- throw in factors like ethnic discord and a possibility (or even propensity) for violence, and you can see how online behaviors can influence offline behaviors (and vice versa).