National Journal, a site for nonpartisan reporting on current politics, has teamed with New Media Strategies and JESS3 in order to provide an exclusive networking community for members of congress and their staff. This secure portion of the National Journal site will be for work purposes, communication and collaborative efforts between congressional members and staff.
The new network is called 3121, and it’s aiming to make life “easier” for the sie members. You’ll need to submit a request in order to access the site, though a public blog is available as a basic resource within the National Journal site. 3121 is actually in beta, so there is likely to be a lot of experimentation and ongoing improvements to this network, as it is among the first to be a professional networking tool created specifically for members of congress.
The official launch of 3121 is scheduled for September. Some of the features that will be made available to site members include a contact directory, custom news feeds and collaboration tools. The purpose behind all this is to enable users to work smarter and faster. It’s an initiative that all professional collaboration sites have aimed for, making us spend our time more efficiently. But is a LinkedIn for Capitol Hill what we need for our government?
It’s quite true that members of our government have been turning to online tools and social networks for work and publicity purposes, so it’s not entirely surprising that a site has been created just for Members of Congress. But convincing a large portion of Capitol Hill to participate in an exclusive network brings an array of security concerns, given the concentration of information being shared within the network.
There’s also the question of the network’s ability to make work more efficient. As I’m unable to check out 3121 firsthand, there’s only so much I can speak on in this regard. But creating a tool specific for an entire sector within a particular profession is a difficult task and requires a large appeal in order to garner a high adoption rate. From there, the inability to integrate with many other professional tools an networks could become a hindrance, depending on individual use of 3121.
But 3121’s secure network is certainly an interesting step in the influence of online collaboration and professional networking as far as niche sites go. Hopefully 3121 will be a helpful tool that will aid in the efficiency of how Congress works, ultimately making communication amongst its members and the outside public more fluid and accessible.