Today marks the one year anniversary of the GovTwit directory. Started as a simple blog post listing about 150 IDs, the directory now contains over 2,500 names of agencies and individuals in the public sector who are using Twitter to share information and ideas about critical issues facing government.
In the past year we’ve seen the first tweet from space, an official White House Twitter account, and agencies like the EPA, CDC and FDA begin using the channel as a central part of citizen outreach and education efforts (for green/sustainability, H1N1 and the peanut product recall among other issues). We’ve seen an explosion of state/local government gravitating to Twitter, and we saw the State Department ask the microblogging service to delay planned technical maintenance in order to allow messages from Iranian election protesters to continue to be shared worldwide.
As Twitter adoption grew throughout the government, GovTwit grew as well, moving beyond its blog roots to add search, tagging and other powerful tools to make it a more useful resource. There’s also now a Facebook fan page and FriendFeed stream to allow other outlets for people to get news on new directory additions. GovTwit has been featured in Mashable, USA Today (among other publications), and was ranked at the number two spot in Federal Computer Week’s list of “10 Social Network Sites to Keep You in the Loop.”
But beyond becoming what I hope is a useful resource for the larger public sector community, the research used to build GovTwit has helped me personally gain a better understanding of the issues facing government today. It’s also left me optimistic for the future of gov given the abundance of smart minds thinking and working and collaborating daily about how to make government better.
Without this platform I most likely wouldn’t have met or had the chance to interact with folks like Steve Ressler or Andy Krzmarzick of GovLoop, fruit fly brain surgeon Dr. Mark Drapeau or Chris McCroskey, the founder of TweetCongress. Very doubtful I would have otherwise crossed paths with people like San Francisco public servant Adriel Hampton, Luke Fretwell of GovFresh or Peter Corbett of iStrategy Labs. Not to mention Craig’s List founder Craig Newmark, tech guru Tim O’Reilly, GSA’s Mary Davie or EPA’s Jeffrey Levy. There’s also USDA’s Amanda Eamich, HHS’ Andrew Wilson, Brian Drake (now a colleague at Deloitte), Steve Radick (from a competing consulting firm), Bob Gourley (former DIA CTO), Dave Faggard and Alan Black of the Air Force, John Shea of FEMA or TSA’s Neil Bonner and Paul Worsham. Local councilman Ari Herzog, the Pentagon’s Jack Holt, Federal News Radio’s Chris Dorobek, Gautham Nagesh of Government Executive and literally dozens upon dozens of other “GovTwits” I’ve met over the past year have made interacting on Twitter much more than just “social networking.”
So if you’ve used the site for research, contributed an ID, rated it at oneforty.com or directed colleagues to GovTwit when someone says “I don’t understand how Twitter could be useful in government,” thank you. I hope to continue to add and grow the directory as government 2.0 continues to grow as well.