Posted by: sweeneyblog | September 13, 2013

Friday Odds and Ends: Social Media, Upcoming Forums and “Lean”

Hello Loyal Readers,

Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin!

There has been a flurry of activity on facebook about the City’s “True or False” page. It is unclear whether it is a new page or has been up for a long time and just freshly discovered or reactivated. When I called the mayor’s office, the only person who knew (Janice Keller) was out for the day so they could not answer for certain. But more to the point, why is this controversial?

Information Booth or Big Brother?

Information Booth or Big Brother?

The page says that they are looking through social media and want to use this True or False page to set the record straight. This riled some in the community because it portrays the city administration combing through the internet looking for any mention of the city’s business.

Obviously, some elected officials do that – I’ve had my facebook page end up in the Sheriff’s email box and I know another public official that angrily emailed anyone who reposted my blog post critical of him. I understand the desire to set the record straight – there is a great deal of misinformation that can blossom online.

However it is essential that communication with the city be a two-way street. I would hope the city uses this page as a starting ground but keeps other avenues open to go back and forth. So while this page is not a problem, I hope it is not the entire solution.

Moving on, there are some great public forums coming up. I am delighted to participate in the North Sound Media Alliance forum happening on Oct 3rd at 7p.m. in the County Council chambers. This firmly non-partisan association of local media outlets will be hosting the County Council candidates in a lively and spirited debate. I hope the remaining candidates who have not RSVP-ed will do so and that this event is a success.

Finally, my day job is working for a great company called Enna. They do business education about a Japanese efficiency system known as Lean or Kaizen. This last week, we launched their latest business venture called üttana. Below is the advertisement we produced for our website. It is a little odd.

üttana is website where you can stream hundreds of high-quality training videos about Lean and Kaizen. It really is a phenomenal resource, so if you are thinking about “Going Lean,” this is a great place to start, continue and advance. So check it out, and follow us on facebook, twitter or youtube today!

Okay, enough shilling for my really cool company. This weekend I have an update about the jail and next week an expose on some campaign money coming into our county.

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Responses

  1. It’s been up there for a long time, unused. Since spring of 2009, back during the Pike administration. If you Wayback it, the City responded to rumors that the Whatcom Museum was closing. Responded again to rumors about Medic One and police force reductions.

    Not much of a propaganda tool, it seems.

    • Exactly, it is part of a larger system of carrying on a conversation with our elected officials.

      • I’m not sure what sort of “dialog” it serves. Seems more designed to stamp out pernicious sorts of crowdsourcing panic that probably do tie up the switchboards at City Hall. Someone writes on Fb that the BPD will now wear clown noses and bark at the moon, and the whole city loses its shite… 😉

  2. The Internet Archive’s first snapshot of the page was June 27, 2009. It’s been around continuously at least since then then, and has been indexed 51 times since. I haven’t checked every snapshot for changes, but it doesn’t look like it’s been used by the city much.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20090201000000*/http://www.piersystem.com/go/doc/1264/284479/

    • OK, the page was used 5 times in 2009 and 2010. Here’s the archive page with those articles:
      http://web.archive.org/web/20111025173546/http://www.piersystem.com/go/doctype/1264/34439/

      They were all removed over a year ago, and the page hasn’t been updated since.

      • Thank you guys for figuring that out! Considering no one at the mayor’s office knew about the page today, I think that shows that a) they don’t use it and b) they haven’t noticed the flurry of facebook posts about it recently which means c) they aren’t scouring the web looking at everyone’s facebook.

  3. My guess is that it was Pike’s PR staff who set it up, and then at some point early on in Linville’s term a PR decision was made not to use the page, and the contents were cleared out. That would explain why no one in the mayor’s office seem to know it’s there.

  4. I noticed the website link when I went to the city home page a few days ago, but I hadn’t noticed it before. Does anyone know if the website link is new?

  5. Hi – Maybe I can add to this a bit. This page has actually been on the City’s website for a very long time. In fact, it was up before the redesign. I believe it was in part created at the behest of former Chief Administrator Malcolm Fleming because he didn’t like the coverage of former Bellingham Herald reporter Jon Gambrel (my predecessor at The Herald as the government and politics reporter – and I came there in 2006). They really didn’t get along very well, to put it mildly.

    They did use it a few times for Gambrel articles.

    I recall once doing a public records request for Janice Keller’s emails and noticed her cautioning against using that page/the City’s website to respond to a Herald article. I do not believe this type of web page would ever be misused. As a former journalist herself, Janice is very good at communicating responsibly and not trying to use tools like this maliciously. They have a great comm. director in her.

    So, in short, it’s not new.

    I should add, though, that I think a page like that can definitely be beneficial – especially for the currently-stated reasons on the page. But I absolutely agree with it being a two-way street, and engaging in dialogue, not one way announcements, is the better way to go. It’s why we (the City of Ferndale) use our Facebook page so much. Community conversation is crucial to enhancing the quality of life of our neighbors.

    Bellingham has started doing this more recently, too, on its social media feeds, and I’m very happy to see that. It can be difficult to keep up with a lack of resources, but the payoff is endless in my view.

    Sam Taylor
    Ferndale City Clerk & Community Information Officer


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