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Why The MA Legislature Should Not Have Blocked Twitter

Posted by admin on 1/24/2011


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The Herald reports today that the Massachusetts Legislature has blocked staffers and lawmakers from accessing Twitter on their office computers.  This is a HUGE step in the wrong direction. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and City of Boston should embrace social media and technology. Social media not only offers a easy and cost effective way to communicate with citizens, but new tech companies that specialize in social media and technology are a growing industry that should be nurtured and embraced by officials, not shunned. There are some local government organizations like the Boston Police and the Governor’s office that have embraced Twitter. We commend these organizations for taking advantage of Twitter to open lines of communication. But recent news stories suggest that Boston is losing its prominence as a center for technology and innovation. Despite the talent that comes out of schools like MIT and the availability of investment capital, influencers are packing up and moving to more start-up friendly locations. New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to promote that city’s tech industry are blossoming there, as startups like Foursquare and Meetup show solid growth. As new tech centers like Boulder, Austin and New York quickly grow, it becomes clear that the glory days of the sole twin tech centers, Silicon Valley and Massachusetts’ Route 128 loop, are on the decline. Boston does have some new hot tech companies. SCVNGR, Hubspot and SVPPLY come to mind immediately. Boston also has top-notch VC firms like Spark Capital. But in order for Boston to stay competitive in the tech landscape, more needs to be done to promote the industry. Perhaps public/private partnerships that would provide capital and incubator space to early stage companies? But at the most basic level officials need to at least not shun the new technology that so many are using to share ideas, news and important information that enriches our lives, and our democracy. By banning Twitter from official computers, the Legislature is sending the wrong message to a thriving industry and to an informed citizenry. -John Peabody

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