Revisiting Local Governments and Social Networking: Do You Speak Our Language?

Revisiting Local Governments and Social Networking: Do You Speak Our Language?

Gerald A. Merwin Jr. (Valdosta State University, USA), J. Scott McDonald (University of Texas at El Paso, USA), Keith A. Merwin (Merwin & Associates, USA), Maureen McDonald (WDE Consulting, USA) and John R. Bennett Jr. (Valdosta State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8430-0.ch003
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This chapter argues that Web 2.0, a valuable tool used to expand government-citizen communication opportunities and bring citizens as a group closer to government, widens a communication opportunity divide between local government and its citizens. Web 2.0 access is almost exclusively English-language based, benefiting that segment of the population and leaving behind others, especially the fastest growing language minority of Spanish speakers. While local governments are increasingly taking advantage of the trend toward interacting with citizens through social networking (Aikins, 2009; Vogel, 2009), McDonald, Merwin, Merwin, Morris, & Brannen (2010) found a majority of counties with significant populations of citizens with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) do not provide for the translation needs of these citizens on their Websites. The chapter finds that Web 2.0-based communication is almost exclusively in English and that cities are missing opportunities to communicate. It concludes with recommendations based on observations of communities employing Web 2.0 to engage non-English speaking populations.
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Web 2.0 will continue to provide a foundation for important further evolution in the manner we conduct digital business (Hof, 2006; How Web 2.0…, 2009; Cordis News, 2009). Web 2.0 is fundamentally changing personal and business interactions of the future. The concept and term - Web 2.0 - is variously dated; however, most literature dates the term to 2004 and Tom Reilly (O’Reilly, 2005b; Sander, 2008). Web 2.0 is defined in a variety of manners, all of which certainly hold truths and are keys to our understanding of this important new concept. Some authors sum up Web 2.0 as difficult, maybe impossible, to define; its technological, social, and other impacts are just too far reaching to totally grasp at this time (Madden & Fox, 2006; Kumar, 2008). This perspective certainly contains a kernel of truth; yet, understanding of this important concept and its far reaching ramifications requires definition, even if we fall short of perfection.

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