I've become obsessed with all things cyberspace-beginning with my first fantasy baseball team. I inherited the team this year from a co-worker's father, and my online life has snowballed.
First, I discovered that I can design my own Yahoo page, at no cost, so I can check e-mail and manage my team from the same home page. I can also personalize news feeds to keep an ever-present watch over Major League Baseball, public works-related news, weather, and other interesting bits (like the cult under scrutiny in El Dorado, Texas).
This capability isn't new technology. But because I tend to leave the computer at the office, having to organize my online "play time" is like discovering a whole new--and personalized--world.
Next, while researching the cover story for PUBLIC WORKS' May issue (due out the second week of May) I found the best way to reach members of my generation ("X") and younger is through the Internet.
Again, not news. But I was surprised to learn that e-mail is going the way of snail mail for younger generations. When they're not at work, these generations communicate via text messaging and instant messaging through Web sites like Facebook and MySpace.
I also learned that public agencies should consider recruiting younger generations through those sites. But how? Through online advertisements? By creating Facebook or MySpace pages? By joining or creating "groups" that are industry-specific?
Thus began my Facebook adventure.
I signed up. I got back in touch with an old friend living in Korea. I played online scrabble with a childhood buddy. I touched base with a former colleague who's running a virtual-reality public works department -- which gave me a great story idea! And I even found a public works department with its own Facebook page. (To Gainesville Public Works Department in Florida: that was me who accidentally became your "fan" until I could figure out how to "de-fan" myself!)
But as a Facebook newbie, I'm still trying to discover how a department can actively -- and successfully -- recruit through such sites. So I am turning to another cyberspace activity: the e-newsletter.
If your department is recruiting through Facebook, MySpace, or a similar online site, please drop me an e-mail at email@example.com. I'd love to know what you're doing, and what kind of response you've had so far.
Until then, I've added a Facebook link to my Yahoo page -- right below my fantasy baseball link.