While the White House as well as many federal agencies are experimenting with social networking tools, their efforts are unguided by sound research or clear and coherent policies that encourage innovation while protecting individual liberties and privacy. The hierarchical practices of traditional government are not keeping up; they are inadequate for exploiting the explosion of social networking systems.Much of what I have been tracking about security and social media has been about cyber-security. Here, Carafano asks us to take a look at using social media to protect our country, rather than simply as a threat to our security. And to do so in a systematic, deliberate way.
Fundamental reforms will be required for conducting national security in a world driven by global listening. Washington cannot fully adopt and exploit social networking systems without profoundly changing the process of governance. Advocating such change, however, is premature. First, the government must understand and develop the means to interact in the new world in which it lives. The Administration should:
- Restructure the government's means for conducting strategic communications;
- Create human capital programs to prepare national security professionals and decision makers with new skills, knowledge, and attributes; and
- Direct national security agencies to establish research and development programs focused on threats and competitive advantages of social networking tools.--(my emphasis) Read the entire backgrounder on heritage.org
This approach--understanding the way networks develop, improving the knowledge and skills of employees and fundamentally changing how government communicates--has to be accomplished while government continues to use the new tools. This practical, if imperfect, experience is driving the policy and the research agenda. Waiting for research and policy would squander the opportunity to build experience (and perhaps expertise) of government innovators and innovation.
Both threads, deliberate change and raw experimentation, are needed to strengthen and protect our country as information creation and usage is being fundamentally restructured before our eyes.