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Openness and Transparency: A Digital Dialogue

by: Benjamin Balter, New Media

July 22, 2010

The internet’s continued evolution has given rise to countless avenues of communication not imagined just two-decades earlier. Today, executives can leverage the power of e-mail to broker deals halfway around the globe at near-instantaneous speed. Former classmates can exchange photos or reminisce about their favorite elementary-school teachers, countless years after graduation. Scientists and researchers can share their latest findings or can query humanity’s collective knowledge, all without leaving their chair. And pet lovers across the country can upload more than 300,000 videos of their kittens. At the FCC, this innovation provides ever-evolving avenues for openness, transparency, and continued dialogue between government and the citizens it seeks to serve.

For the FCC, openness is not simply about making information obtainable for those who seek it, but rather, making sure that information is well known, easily accessible, and freely open to all. Whether on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or the FCC’s numerous RSS feeds, the agency makes information regarding its actions – past, present, and planned – readily available across today’s most popular social media platforms for users to share, comment, and most importantly, learn what the government is doing on their behalf.

In today’s multimedia-rich digital age, the information necessary to ensure the FCC’s transparency comes in many forms. While /data serves as a robust clearinghouse for the agency’s traditional forms of knowledge, such as reports or databases, increasingly, transparency can be found in the pixels of the images and videos posted on the FCC’s Flickr photostream and YouTube channel. 

That information, however, requires context to gain true meaning, generated by the FCC’s commitment to continuing an ongoing dialogue with, and among the public. A truly innovative approach to governance, the FCC’s Broadband and Open Internet Idealscale forums allow citizens to add their voice to the discussion, brainstorm ideas with others, and vote for ideas they think are best. The FCC’s Reboot Uservoice forums bridge decision-makers and those most affected by decisions in a collaborative approach to online services, information, and engagement.

These are just a handful of the various tools the FCC uses daily, and an even smaller sampling of the online tools available today, let alone what innovation tomorrow may bring.  What tools are we not using? What could we use better? As we continue on the journey together toward increased openness, transparency, and continued dialog, I encourage you to share your thoughts both in the many avenues listed above, and in the comments section below.

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