1:08 pm Feb. 19, 2013
Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn't think much of the impact social media has had on governance, and he said as much today during a press conference in the offices of BuzzFeed, whose success is built on the creation of sharable content.
"Today, we have an instant poll on whether anything is good before you even get a chance to explain it or answer all the questions in terms of how it's gonna to work," said the mayor today, when I asked him if he still believed, as he said last year in Singapore, that social media actually cramped governance by creating a daily "referendum" on everything the administration does.
"I think it's gotten to be much worse," he responded.
"You have to have the space, if you will, to lead from the front to make decisions to then convince people why it's right, to do things," he said today. "And if it doesn't work perfectly, to fix it.
Bloomberg made his comments at yet another press conference hailing the growth of the tech sector in New York City.
According to his administration, between 2007 and 2011, the number of employees at city digital media companies grew 80 percent.
A good amount of that growth is attributable to companies like Tumblr, bit.ly and BuzzFeed.
Here's a fuller version of Bloomberg's response to the question about social media:
"I think it's gotten to be much worse. Governing is about, you elect somebody whose values you think are consistent with yours. Asking them what they'd do with specific problems is relatively meaningless, cause the problems they're going to face down the road are things that you never would have anticipated.
"But you have to have the space, if you will, to lead from the front to make decisions to then convince people why it's right, to do things. And if it doesn't work perfectly, to fix it, if it is working perfectly, try to scale it up.
"If it should be canceled, cancel it and then spend some time before your next election. Today, we have an instant poll on whether anything is good before you even get a chance to explain it or answer all the questions in terms of how it's gonna to work. Innovation is the essence. You don't know who's gonna to buy it, what it's gonna look like, what it's made of, what color it's gonna be, how you're gonna advertise it, how you're gonna charge, whether it will work. You just know you have an instinct and you want to try it and you can get venture money for your own time and sweat to put into it. If you have to answer all of those questions before you get going, you will never get going.
"And it's one thing for the private sector to do it, but it's much more difficult in the case of government. Information is great and you always want to listen to your customers, but you have to have some space and time, you have to be able to talk to people about things and solicit their advice before it's in the newspapers. And unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, we've shortened that time and it's now, maybe, it's the cart [coming] before the horse in a lot of these cases."
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