Digital public affairs podcast: MP Niki Ashton

Digital public affairs podcast: MP Niki Ashton

The current batch of federal politicians are the first to have to deal with the idea of shifting their online social media activities from being truly personal and free of public scrutiny, to being mindful of what they do and say online, and how that can be used or misused against them.

They’re also the first to truly discover how certain communities form on certain online platforms. That is, some groups naturally find their online homes on Facebook while others lean toward Twitter. In some cases, this is event specific.

On this edition of the Digital Public Affairs podcast, excerpts from a conversation with MP Niki Ashton on the role of Facebook as an early warning system and community gathering place, and refining the use of digital when different outcomes are considered.

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Digital public affairs podcast: MP Paul Dewar

Digital public affairs podcast: MP Paul Dewar

The emergence of the @canada Twitter account has stirred up some interest in how the Canadian government is using — or in some views, misusing — social media to communicate with Canada, and how Canada is engaging in digital diplomacy.

Which makes this a fitting time to share a discussion I had with NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar. We spoke six months ago (June 2014) as part of my ongoing series of interviews with MPs.

On this edition of the Digital Public Affairs podcast, MP Paul Dewar on the changing digital landscape, social media as a political candidate, federal politician and candidate for the leadership of the NDP, and opportunities for Canada to use social media for international and diplomatic relations.

By the way… For the last five years, December 1 (today) has become known as Canada’s National Day of Podcasting (CNDOP), an day for Canadian podcasters, current and dormant, to put out fresh content on their feed.

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Digital public affairs podcast: Minister Michelle Rempel

Digital public affairs podcast: Minister Michelle Rempel

Almost by definition, politicians are subject to a barrage of criticism. Sometimes that criticism comes from people who choose to see something, or see a lack of something in their targets. This is often the case with ad hominem attacks directed at elected women.

Minister Michelle Rempel is one such target. Political watchers have seen an unhealthy amount of baseless commentary directed her way. We’ve also seen Minister Rempel navigate the attacks very well.

On this edition of the Digital Public Affairs podcast, excerpts from a conversation with Minister Michelle Rempel on the thornier side of online, being real, and social media as a source of important information and breaking news.

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Digital public affairs podcast: MP Sean Casey

Digital public affairs podcast: MP Sean Casey

Not all MPs are career politicians. Many, in fact most, were on another career path before being recruited or voluntarily deciding to enter political life.

For MP Sean Casey, that decision meant a significant shift in mindset. As a lawyer, his responsibility was to be much more guarded about what he said professionally and what he showed personally.

On this edition of the Digital Public Affairs podcast, excerpts from a conversation with MP Sean Casey on learning the digital ropes on the fly as a candidate, a member of an opposition party, and a sitting MP preparing for the next election.

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Digital public affairs podcast: MP Ted Hsu

Digital public affairs podcast: MP Ted Hsu

The age of social media has changed many things about how we communicate and interact online. Politicians have had to follow suit. This means, in addition to everything else, MPs and their staff have to be online content creators, curators and, more importantly, they need to be engaged in a dialog.

I spoke with MP Ted Hsu in May. We had a fascinating chat about the design decisions behind his digital ecosystem and the challenges he’s identified in staying current and interesting to an online audience.

Our chat was, by the way, two months before Mr. Hsu announced that this, his first term as an MP, would also be his last. The demands are too hard on a young family.

On this edition of the Digital Public Affairs podcast, excerpts from a conversation with Ted Hsu on considerations for digital in an MP’s communications ecosystem.

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The future of online business may be social

The future of online business may be social

I’ve often wondered how to describe Airbnb, Uber and other startups like them. Clearly they’re more than websites. Are they social services? Social apps? Service communities?

No matter how you categorize them, they, and services like them, have not been without controversy. After all, the premise of services like Airbnb and Uber is that you trust another otherwise unknown and possibly unqualified person to deliver a service to you, safely, completely and for a fee.

If you’re unfamiliar, Airbnb is a service that allows travellers to rent a room from someone else. Uber’s UberX service allows people to book a ride from someone who operates as a taxi (licensed or not). Both services rely on technology to facilitate the transaction.

My wife suggested we book accommodations for a summer trip to Europe through Airbnb. As Andrea pointed out, we were able to read user reviews of hosts before we booked the stay. Another feature that helped convince me was the idea of staying with locals in local communities rather than in hotels in tourist-centric areas. That meant we were more likely to eat at local restaurants which serve good food at reasonable prices rather than at restaurants that charge outrageous prices for marginally good food.

Airbnb’s model can be compared to eBay. You earn credibility as a host or guest for a positive experience considering your role in the transaction and you as a person.

Of the six Airbnb experiences we had in Europe, only one was disappointing — the host arrived 30 minutes late for our scheduled arrival and tour, the room was not ready for us, the apartment was a disaster (unlike her promotional photos) and she had friends over one evening to watch televisions, loudly, until about 11pm when they were asked to be quiet since we had been sleeping.

The Airbnb review system is smart. Both parties are reminded by the website to submit their reviews within two weeks of the end of the stay. The reviews are not published until both are submitted, and neither party can see the other’s review until both are submitted or until the window for submitting your review has passed. If you miss the window, you don’t get to issue the review. As it turns out, the host of our bad experience was so disorganized, she never submitted a review of us.

I’m happy to report the other five experiences were fantastic. The hosts were amazing; some even more so.

Here’s the interesting part. eBay, Airbnb and Uber build marketplaces based on the quality of the individual as much as the quality of the experience. Because the social currency is measured publicly, these services demand that all parties in a transaction are better people.

These are the pioneers of social business.

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