While writing about Neighborhood America, a company that creates online social networks for commercial, media and government clients, Mashable joked about the fact that the company listed the Department of Defense as one if its clients (MyNukes.com — a new social networking Web site.).
Naturally, I was intrigued and excited that DoD had turned to this company for online support. Was OSD Public Affairs about to launch a massive and innovative online community to connect the American people with the military in ways that previously weren’t possible?
I decided to investigate further.
When I dug deeper, I only found myself disappointed. It turns out that the work Neighborhood America had done was for DAPA — the Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment. The work simply to create an online public commenting system about defense acquisition projects.
Perhaps this lack of vision isn’t only the fault of the Department of Defense. Consider the way that Neighborhood America bills its service on its Web site. For media, Neighborhood America “supports audience engagement.” For business, it “builds customer communities.” But for government? It “manages public comment.”
Government should be about more than managing comment. Consider all of the new two-way communication technologies that are available today online. If they are good for media and business, why not for government? Why is governing in this day and age of connectivity about “management” rather than conversation?
I’m not saying the DoD should create MyNukes.com. That was just parody. Still, there is room for a Department of Defense social network. Others have already shown the model can work, and I previously pointed out that in an age where too many people don’t understand the military because they aren’t touched by it, an online network could be the solution.
To OSD Public Affairs — your imagination is the limit.