recommended reading

Straight Outta Government: GSA Mulls Deal With Rap Genius

GSA is looking to emulate the Rap Genius site, which has already racked up more than 68,000 annotations to Kanye West’s new album Yeezus.

GSA is looking to emulate the Rap Genius site, which has already racked up more than 68,000 annotations to Kanye West’s new album Yeezus. // Nousha Salimi/AP

This article has been updated to correctly state how GSA negotiates with social media sites.

What will be the next social media platform to make it big in government? The answer may be Rap Genius, a four-year-old tool designed to decode hip hop lyrics and that government agencies could use to crowdsource the backstory on policy memos and proposed regulations.

The General Services Administration is talking with Rap Genius about creating a federal friendly version of the website, which has already racked up more than 68,000 annotations to Kanye West’s new album Yeezus, GSA’s social media lead Justin Herman said Wednesday.

“We want to stop chasing the social media tail and start getting in front of it,” he said.

GSA negotiates terms of service agreements with social media platforms that allow agencies to use the sites without fear of violating any federal regulations. 

If the deal goes through, government agencies will likely have to maintain accounts on a segmented part of the site so their annotated documents won’t be displayed next to links for hip hop songs with profane titles, he said.

Herman was speaking during a panel discussion on social media in journalism hosted by the National Press Foundation.

The U.S. Geological Survey has already set up an account on Rap Genius where several of the agency’s policy documents have been annotated by geology enthusiasts. The agency’s “popular songs” include Decline in Amphibian Populations in the U.S. and Forecasting the Impact of Storm Waves and Sea Level Rise on Midway Atoll and Laysan Island within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Rap Genius edits range from translating slang terms into standard English to fleshing out how a rapper’s biography may have informed a particular lyric.

The site has previously branched out from hip hop, including “poetry genius” and “news genius,” which annotates political speeches and quotes.

Government has mixed crowdsourcing and policy in the past but usually with the goal of developing policy or legislation rather than explaining it. The Open Gov Foundation, which spun out of the office of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., built a tool called Madison that crowdsources edits to legislation. Nextgov is hosting the Madison version of legislation to reform how the government buys information technology.

Agencies have also used IdeaScale to crowd source suggestions for how to improve government programs and policies.

The federal government’s presence on social media has increased dramatically in the past few years as more sites adopt federal-friendly terms of service and as agencies struggle to communicate with a social-savvy citizenry.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download

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