ASPA 2012 Conference Las Vegas Day 5 at the Flamingo Casino

ASPA Conference Day 5 Review: Final Thoughts

I finally broke down and brought my laptop down from my room to the sessions this morning. My Dell Studio 1535 is nearing the end of its run. To keep the laptop running, I upgraded to a 40 GB SSD and installed a developer edition of Windows 8. I have been looking at ultrabook options for several months now. Over the last few days, I have been seriously considering purchasing the HP Folio 13. The physical setup of ultrabooks is about to fundamentally change. Current laptop design involves a clamshell setup without a touchscreen. The new models are about to have a clamshell design with a touchscreen. The benefit being that the device could be used as a laptop or if the clamshell is totally reversed the device could be used as a touchscreen tablet. Having a device that could be either a table or a laptop is very enticing.

The memos to the president series wrapped up today with a super session titled, “Memo’s to the President: The public administration community speaks to the nation’s leaders – a wrap-up.” This morning I learned that the “Memo’s to the President” Super Session will be changing over to a “Memo’s to Leaders” title. Apparently, a well-placed separation of powers argument was enough to get the name of the series changed. I really enjoyed the panel discussion for one main reason. The series encouraged scholars to take the cumulative knowledge assembled within the academy of public administration and translate that knowledge to applied theory or at least best practices. The field of public administration has three general pillars including economy, efficiency, and social equality. The field lacks a general philosophy that can be used to facilitate high-quality informed decision making.

I’m probably going to have to go back and review all of my previous conference posts and embed some links to program related content. Working quickly is not an acceptable excuse for a thinker to ignore the responsibility to provide backward linkages. The internet provides people with online access a public commons to share information and engage in discussions. Ultimately, the advent of the internet sped up the velocity of information. The free and open exchange of information has been the foundation of an informed civil society for generations. I’m curious about how or why the discussions of engagement, reorganization, and informed decision making through better metric collection will change the field of public administration. Being presented with limited information can challenge decision makers. Some of them will request additional information, but a large portion of them simply change up the hill.

After several years of hard work, I was finally able to fully conceptualize how to implement my research strategy. I was able to develop a framework to move forward as a researcher. I have been working for the last several months on finalizing a paper titled, “Analyzing social media engagement within e-government implementations using automated data mining techniques: A study of local government social media engagement.” While writing the further research section of the paper I realized that my actual research intentions had been different than the product I ended up producing. At some point, during the process I figuratively jumped out of my chair and yelled, “Eureka!” Over the last two year, I have been collecting social network theory linkage tables. It turns out that while I thought I was working on content modeling the entire time I had been building datasets that could be used in a variety of ways. I have started work on a new paper entitled, “Mapping online conservations: A method for applied social network analysis of websites using automated data mining techniques.”

Building datasets related to the field of public administration is a challenge for researchers. The ability to build is a good skill for quantitative researchers to acquire. Intellectually, I put a premium on creating longitudinal datasets that facilitate high quality empirical research.

Governments are facing a“…growing presence of multi-sector workforces” (Posner, 2012).

Situational Politics… government has grown large enough that instead of taking about the system we have broken down the system into a series of issue related subjects or specializations. Reality is complex. In some ways reality is so complex that we as citizens do not have the capacity to meaningfully discuss the totality of government. Perhaps the confines of language based discourse create the limit. Alternatively, it could be the sheer volume of information makes transparency unrealistic based on our capacity to consume and understand new streams of information. Maybe we have hit our limit when it comes to information consumption. Perhaps in terms of how we process information we have started moving from expansion to reduction.