Maybe folks in Madison are too busy actually working with technology to mess around with Facebook and other Web 2.0 distractions, but I continue to wonder, for all our native techno-wizardry, where's our Web buzz?
I know Facebook isn't a perfect proxy for all Web activity or real-world support, but it does capture some information about a subset of the population. I say subset, even though Tea economic development director Jenni White gushes to KELO that "everyone" is on Facebook. Not quite everyone... but the city of Tea created a Facebook page* and drew 397 fans in two months. If our economic development corporation, the LAIC, is anywhere on Facebook, I can't find it. (Genuine open interaction with the public terrifies the LAIC.) Madison's Chamber page has been up a little longer than the Tea page but has 130 fans, me included.
Update 10:46 CDT: The absence of Madison Facebook buzz is all the more striking in the context of this amazing statistic from Mike Knutson at Reimagine Rural: South Dakota has the highest percentage of population signed on to Facebook in the country, 31.1%! Knutson also points to other communities making good use of Facebook, like Oldham, whose page has 251 fans. That's 68% of the population in the Oldham ZIP code. The Madison Chamber page's friend–ZIPpop ratio: 1.5%.
Our radio station, KJAM, is doing a little better on fans, with 574. Its Amazing Madison website also gets some participation on its calendar of events.
Participation capacity remains absent from Madison's other online venues. MadisonSD.com is still all top-down marketing... but it does offer a wonderful live view of Heartland's new sign and the gas station at the edge of town.
Even at DSU, there is what feels to me like a surprising lack of online activity. Well, not in class: I see numerous students making constant use of Facebook (expect a subsequent study on the inverse relationship between in-class Facebook use and GPA). But I don't see a lot of students or even profs doing much to establish prominent online presence. With some notable exceptions, From our President on down, we just don't see much online activity.
Is this odd? Am I missing a great undercurrent of local Web activity? Or is techno-Madison strangely behind the times in terms of embracing and producing engaging Web content? If there are Madison Facebook pages and blogs and other online presences that put the lie to my hypothesis, let me know!
*Hyperlink Grouse du Jour: tea has a Facebook page, but I'll be darned if anyone makes it easy to find. KELO commits that familiar sin of doing journalism about the Web and not including hyperlinks to the website discussed (Grrr!!!). The City of Tea, with more stake in driving traffic, flunks Web 101, too: on their city website, they say, "Join us on Facebook... Search Tea South Dakota."
Tea Webmaster, go like this:
<a href="http://www.facebook.com/#%21/pages/Tea-SD/Tea-South-Dakota/351241160161">Join Us on Facebook!</a>