Twitter Is Mission Critical, Redux

October 9, 2009
By Beverly Schaeffer

The defense sector is all a-Twitter about this and other social media platforms, with many organizations restricting how and if their employees can access the tools during working hours. Authors Maj. Daniel Ward, USAF; Maj. Gabe Mounce, USAF; and Carol Scheina discuss the impact of these restrictions in their article "Twitter Is Mission Critical." The article generated a lot of conversation when it was presented in excerpted form last month, and you can read those comments here. The complete version of Twitter is Mission Critical is in this month's issue of SIGNAL Magazine. And it's worth another look to see what else the authors had to say. The Defense Department currently denies access to social networking sites from many unclassified department networks, isolating the defense work force from Twitter, one of the biggest engines of social, economic and technological change. This policy is outdated, the authors say. They stress that blocking access to social media restricts warfighters' ability to collaborate and innovate. Many defense employees are knowledge workers, which requires connections with people and exposure to emerging ideas. Social media enables all of these things. Social media communities such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are self-selected and interest-driven. They are not limited to those who wear the same uniform, work on the same projects or have the same background. Social media extends beyond the military-industrial complex, encouraging collaboration and jointness. Arguments against using Twitter include network security fears, bandwidth constraints and the perception that social media wastes time--none of which are strong enough reasons to preclude using these tools. The authors point out that blocked sites do not represent a unique threat; Twitter is not a bandwidth hog; and monitoring employee usage is a leadership issue. It is time for the Defense Department to embrace the next evolution of technology--social media--and to acknowledge the change that is transforming the world, the authors argue. It cannot be ignored and should not be blocked. You can read and comment on the full article here, or you can share your thoughts here at SIGNAL Scape.

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