Don't worry if you have never heard of Sumit Agarwal, until recently a lowly Google product manager. Not many people have. But he's the latest Googler to swap his Segway for a government paycheck, becoming the Obama administration's latest hire.
Sumit will be, and take a deep breath: the deputy assistant secretary of defense for outreach and social media in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense.
A Twittercrat[*], in other words.
"Social media" is proving to be the dream bureaucratic gravy train, across both public and private sectors, as we first noted back here, a cyber-refuge for non-productive labour.
Mastering social media isn't hard to do: if you have a Twitter account, can pronounce a few words of jargon such as "empowerment" and wave a Malcolm Gladwell book around, you're in. In fact, you're not just "in", you're already a "valuable part of The Conversation"!
For politicians with no courage or imagination, Web 2.0 is a godsend. Sprinkle a bit of democratising pixie dust over your PR, and hopefully no one will notice you don't have a clue what to do. Or in Obama's case, have just revved up the perpetual war machine.
This desperate PR isn't limited to the US. In the UK, we appointed a £160,000 pa salary Twittercrat last year.
But Obama's administration draws heavily on one company, Google for its e-paper pushers. Google helped pay for Obama's
coronation inauguration, with CEO Eric Schmidt appointed to the transition team. The administration has previously raided Google for former ICANN flak Andrew McLaughlin, who is now Deputy CTO (more Twittering and Wiki-fiddling), Katie Stanton as "director of citizen participation" (yet more Twittering) and Sonal Shah, the economist who managed Google's money laundering philanthropic arm.
It's your taxes at work. ®
* A word coined here, we admit.