Yes, I know: you're not a misanthrope. A public servant can't afford to be one. But maybe, like me, email's so overwhelming you picture your head exploding like a shotgunned cantaloupe at the thought of voluntarily exposing yourself to more (potentially useless) information. Maybe, like me, you wonder why 1 billion other people on the planet (the number of subscribers Facebook's expected to hit this month) would rather communicate with "friends" electronically instead of verbally. Maybe, like me, you're a closet iconoclast: if everyone else is doing it, you'll be damned if you join the herd. Maybe you envy how easily your friends, kids, and co-workers navigate gadgets and websites.

If, like me, you want to stop thinking like that, congratulations: have we got something for you. Something I wish I'd had before venturing into this new way of sharing information: a step-by-step how-to guide. Something that explains the potential consequences of an action so you don't do something you later can't undo. Tips and tricks that'll save a lot of time, effort, and unnecessary agony.

We're going to teach you how to use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (not necessarily in that order). But instead of jumping right into each platform, we're taking it back further: to email. You'll understand why once you begin reading "Social media 101: email."

This isn't generic instruction: it's written by a former public works director (and current assistant director) for a public works audience. Except for a 1-year stint as senior editor of this magazine, Pam Broviak's helped plan, manage, budget, and maintain infrastructure for five communities. She's also raising six children in the community she serves. She's experienced how a loved one's electronic communications can impact someone in the public eye. She's always finding and exploring free, Internet-based tools, and explains them all in her "The Works" blog. She loves this stuff. She says it's her form of therapy, an outlet that helps her manage stress. I think the civil engineer part of her brain loves puzzling out how the software engineer thought through and resolved his or her design challenges.

PUBLIC WORKS is on all three platforms, but we're learning, too. Our goal is for you to be able to access us in the way that's easiest for you, so if you visit us and have any suggestions or questions, please let us know. If not, that's fine, too. We just want you to feel comfortable, safe, and confident using social media. Choose and tame your tools!

Stephanie Johnston,
Editor in Chief

WEB EXTRA

To access Pam Broviak's online blog, click here.