Fayetteville social media vote tonight

When doing some brief research on the emergence of new media, you’ll find claims that the shift away from traditional media towards digital platforms began as early as the mid 1980s.

Most of us, however, didn’t really start to notice until about ten years later when we all signed up for AOL and began counting our dial-up minutes. We spent lots of time and money trying to figure out where to put the http: and forcing ourselves to learn that the characters that followed were two forward slashes NOT back slashes.

For most, the extent of our time on the Internet was used for goofing off and waiting for photos to slowly load from top to bottom.

Fast-forward to the year 2009 and here we sit arguing with each other over which online social networking service is better and whether or not micro-blogging platforms present any real value to us as a society.

We’ve come a long way and although we haven’t quite decided if we’re more in love with Facebook than we were MySpace or if we’re really going to replace text messaging with Twitter, one thing is certain: We are knee-deep in a world that none of us would have recognized 25 years ago.

Which is exactly why Fayetteville Alderman Matthew Petty has presented a resolution that asks the City of Fayetteville to explore the use of social media tools as a good faith effort to communicate with its citizens.

Tonight’s City Council meeting will likely include the deciding vote on whether or not Fayetteville will be required to take part in at least a small amount of new media usage.

Those who are hesitant to adopt new tools are asking for specifics in terms of which services the City should be using and exactly how and when they’ll be used. Such questions are understandable but hardly answerable. Things are changing so fast these days that it’s incredibly hard to pinpoint what will last and what won’t or what will be bought up by Rupert Murdoch and ruined in the next 18 months.

So what should the City do?

The question is whether or not our leadership is willing to jump in the river and see where it goes. There’s no doubt that the longer it stands idle and watches the rest of the world float by, the further behind it becomes. But at the same time, it’s really scary to go exploring without a compass.

The City has already begun using Twitter to make announcements and the Mayor himself has a very lively Facebook page so it’s arguable to say that Mr. Petty’s initiatives can be counted as a success with or without the passing of his resolution.

Regardless, tonight’s meeting should be pretty interesting. If you have an opinion on the matter, you should certainly consider voicing it.

Tonight’s City Council meeting is at 6pm in the City Administration building at 113 W. Mountain Street just off the square (see map below). Just walk in the front door and straight up the giant staircase into room 219. You can’t miss it.