recommended reading

What the 'new social operating system' means for government


Over the past 12 years, the influence of the Internet has grown to the extent that Americans now “live in networks,” according to an expert on how digital trends are affecting American society -- and that development has serious implications for the way federal agencies interact with the citizens they serve.

The growth of broadband networks and mobile devices since 2000 “has brought new actors into civic spaces,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. “These folks are sometimes on the warpath, and government agencies need to be responsive to that.”

Rainie spoke Monday at Nextgov Prime, a Government Executive Media Group event on technology and government’s future.

Fully 85 percent of Americans are now Internet users, according to Pew’s research, and 66 percent of them have broadband connections at home. Even more significantly, large numbers of those online have become content creators. Almost 70 percent use social networking sites. Even among those 65 and older, 50 percent are online and 38 percent use social networks.

Likewise, the country has undergone a mobile revolution. Nearly 90 percent of adults have mobile phones, and 46 percent are smartphone users. Half of adults have used mobile apps, and 43 percent have downloaded them. As a result, they are more connected digitally than ever before -- to both their work and personal lives.

“A lot of people don’t feel comfortable going off the grid,” Rainie said.

With all of these people both consuming and creating content -- from status updates to photos and videos -- it can be “harder to control organizational messages to the public,” Rainie said. Increasingly, agencies operate in an “augmentation environment,” in which “there are a lot more people who care about your business, and are commenting on it,” he said. That makes it all the more important to be transparent and open in government organizations.

Overall, Rainie said, information is now:

  • Pervasively generated and democratized
  • Pervasively consumed
  • Personal
  • Participatory and social
  • Linked
  • Continually edited and iterative
  • Multiplatform
  • Real-time
  • Timeless
  • Defined and structured by search engine algorithms

(Image via gst/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.