Web speeds connections to people, info

FCW's DotGov Thursday column looks at a new communications model for interacting with widespread communities

As our interactions with people and organizations become increasingly Web-driven,

a new communications model has emerged for interacting with communities

that involve several thousand people.

This occurred to me as I realized that my day-to-day activities involve

using four personal computers, one palm device, four voice-mail boxes, three

e-mail boxes, five phones, three office spaces, 44 passwords, 31 e-mail

newsletters — and "a partridge in a pear tree."

I have achieved a mobile work lifestyle, but at the expense of redundant

IT assets and difficulty integrating across platforms.

Clearly, there is something here to ponder.

The World Wide Web offers an efficient method to share voluminous amounts

of content. I have been able to create a knowledge base online that's accessible

anywhere and any time. I post anything that is nonproprietary and free of

copyright to my personal work Web pages. And often, I port proprietary data

to internal Web pages via e-mail to my various work spaces. That enables

me to create a pseudo-universal Web presence for sensitive content.

In addition to helping organize information, the Web also has accelerated

learning and analysis. As one picks through the proliferation of Web sites

to find useful information, key hyperlinks become handy tools to keep up

with the pace of change, accelerate analysis and integrate learning across

many fields.

The Internet also has accelerated interaction on new concepts. E-mail

lists help people exchange views; and tools such as Web pages, palm devices,

cell phones and e-mail make it easier to participate in forums and discussions

across a range of topics and large distances.

With all this in mind, here is a model for working across large communities.

The overall model will assist you in thinking about how you might organize

your own methods for interacting with your communities. By using the full

array of online tools aggressively, the pace and reach of your activities

can increase significantly.

It looks like a lot to do, but I believe most Webmasters are involved

already in many of these activities:

* Select up to four key conferences to participate in as a speaker.

* Work with IT trade publications to assist in promoting key messages,

remembering you are a federal employee bound to certain ethical standards.

* Interact across the federal government via e-mail lists and chats

to expand your circle of connections.

* Use Web pages to disseminate your content and to create a focal point

for finding information related to your community and/or your activities.

* Conduct and participate in conferences, forums, workshops and meetings — as many as you can — to find out about issues and needs.

* Participate meaningfully in at least one key cross-cutting government


* Take on analysis and research for tough issues.

* Participate in hosting or conducting training beyond your immediate


* Identify your personal list of key hyperlinks for keeping pace with

change, including links to the press, topic-based portals and other types

of Web content.

* Try to establish a lunch contact each day — direct interaction cannot

be replaced by the virtual world.

* Most importantly, provide real value. Ask yourself every day, "Am

I contributing meaningfully to other people's lives professionally and/or

personally?" Everyone has a customer no matter your level in the organization.

Kellett is founder of the federal Web Business Council, co-chairman

of the federal WebMasters Forum and is director of GSA's Emerging IT Policies