Which governments are using the microblogging Juggernaut Twitter? Actually, it can be hard to tell.
There are directories of governments using Twitter here, and here. They appear to be woefully inadequate — my home state of Delaware, which posts its Tweets here, isn’t listed in either. I’m sure there are some other lists out there as well.
Part of the problem is that there is no standard naming convention for public sector Twitter accounts, as there are for things like state and local web site domain names. This can make finding your state or local government’s Twitter feed (or your state legislature, elected officials, state lottery agency, local government etc.) somewhat difficult to find.
As more governments use Twitter – something I’ve argued in the past would be a good thing — this problem will become more acute. What should state and local governments do? Here are my suggestions:
.govdomain names. No such restrictions exist for Twitter accounts, and as of yet there is no real recourse for “Twitter Squating.” Using standard naming conventions would make the acquisition and maintenance of Twitter account names easier and more efficient.
To this last point, I’m not aware of any public sector entities using Identi.ca or other services, but it’s bound to happen eventually — especially since the Identi.ca API so closely mirrors the Twitter API. The development of other microblogging services is another factor that calls attention to the lack of naming standards for accounts used by public sector entities.
Unless governments get out in front of this issue now, it could diminish the benefits of using microblogging as a channel for communicating with citizens.