Virginia’s Secretary of Technology on Social Media: Launch New Businesses from Anywhere

On March 3, 2009, Z. Kelly Queijo had the opportunity to interview Virginia's Secretary of Technology, Aneesh Chopra.  She asked Mr. Chopra, "Is social media on your radar?"

Mr. Chopra answered, "Most certainly it is.  Social media has a role in strengthening our democracy."

Aneesh Paul Chopra, Secretary of Technology, Commonwealth of Virginia Mr. Chopra further addressed three areas he sees as significant to the role social media plays in Virginia's future:

1. “Social media is a tool that can help us improve government performance. Citizens can be far more engaged and helpful than the traditional processes that required you to physically come to Richmond or call by phone allowed. Social media allows government to be more engaging and accountable to the people. These technologies are making it as seamless as possible to connect with your government.”

2.“We can use social media tools to advance some of our key policy goals with priorities around improving education and health care. It is a tool, not only to make the government more participatory, but will affect outcomes."

3. "Social media lets you launch new businesses on these platforms from anywhere. We're very confident that now that we are connected through a much more robust broadband infrastructure, entrepreneurs anywhere in Virginia can build a Facebook application. We might have the next millionaire coming from our rural communities in Wytheville or Martinsville. They can be successful launching a business from their home because they can program and deploy from anywhere in the world and serve customers all over the world."

It's all about collaboration. Mr. Chopra emphasized what it means to live in a commonwealth.

"The 400th anniversary of Jamestown reminded us that, really, Commonwealth is about coming together to solve our shared problems whether we do that  through legislation in a formal sense through government, or whether we use government to inspire us to work with each other. Social media plays a role in that."

For an example of how the Commonwealth of Virginia is engaging citizens' involvement and representation in the federal economic stimulus package, you're invited to visit

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  1. Sheila Beck says:

    I agree with Secretary Chopra on social media. Our role as parents , educators and business people is to take responsibility for teaching our future leaders, employees and employers the responsible and productive use of the social media tools. With Web 2.0 and social media tools, there are no county,state or global boundaries for our residents in business, health or education. The obstacles rural Virginian’s may have with the technology is broadband coverage and providing 21st century technology instruction. Together, all of us , must step up to the opportunities in technology and not away from the challenge.

  2. Excellent observations. He sees the potentials of an electronic web, a social network, over the New River Valley, and some sense of the economic potential of this area and its people … beyond its pitiful voter count. I hope he can help the region…at least as an example and demo for others. I hope the technology and network can emphasize parenting and disease and trauma prevention beyond “health care” via the technology.
    I hope he will help unify the powerful technology of GIS and GPS as communities change and re-localize in the energy-short and stressful future.

  3. Lisa Warren says:

    Kelly, what a great question to ask the Secy of Technology! I really liked what he had to say in response.

    What has been bothering me lately (given my personal experiences/insights) is the way that economic factors seem to combine with geography to limit ready access to high-speed reliable internet communications for some in Virginia. Here in Madison, which is a very rural county but not a small one in area, there are plenty of families whose only high-speed internet access is through a public library, or what the children can access during school hours and parents (might) have access to through their jobs — if they are allowed time and personal use of computers with internet connectivity.

    Broadband coverage is still VERY spotty, and satellite is pushed as the best option — but it’s not really something people can afford to pay for in these economically difficult times. Plus, up-to-date computers for home use are another significant expense.

    Our county’s primary school (PreK through 2nd grade) has only about 400 children (plus or minus?), but at any given time, there are a handful who have no telephone service at home. And/or no working vehicle in the family. One or both parents might be out of work, or making very modest wages, in jail, or on disability — or some combination.

    Parents or children who may be interested and intellectually able to do creative, productive, worthwhile things through the internet at home are shut out because the family can’t afford the basic “infrastructure.” I haven’t looked into our state’s economic stimulus plans yet, but I think that families (with children? or all families?) that live on the edge or below the poverty line (reduced/free lunch families? Or those with household incomes below, say, $40,000/year?) should receive aid to cover the cost of a basic personal computer system/laptop with wireless capability and whatever type of highspeed internet connection is readily available to them — broadband or satellite, or ??? . This should come with some sort of free orientation and training so that families can have ready access to the kinds of educational, health, economic, government and technology-related resources available to them through the internet. The set up of the system and the orientation/training should be customized to meet the needs of the family. It’s really a shame that folks who live in economic hardship cannot afford the technology tools that their better-off neighbors take for granted. Online education, information and communication are not accessible — not without significant obstacles and compromises. As I told you, I just last month was finally able to trade my dial up modem for DSL. The following week, my neighbor across the street and a very short walk down (away from the hub I guess) was told she could not get the DSL hookup due to her location. They have to stick with dial up for the time being, because satellite service is too costly. If you haven’t tried using dial up lately, you can’t even imagine the frustration involved. With most websites using the latest graphics and video streaming, animation, etc., a simple project (say, researching employment opportunities, or online educational opportunities) becomes a nightmare that goes on into the wee hours!

    Well, I’ll get down from my soapbox now! If you’ve read all this, you’re amazing!! Thanks for inspiring me to think/write about this by forwarding the interview link to me. ;^) L.

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