If you are a user of Twitter you have probably seen more than a few tweets, always on Friday’s, using “#FF” followed by a number of names. ”#FF” stands for “Follow Friday.” On Fridays many Twitter users will suggest who others should follow by tweeting with the hashtag #FF.
For me Twitter is about news and information. It is one of the ways that I keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening, so I put a premium on those who convey information, but don’t like following people who tweet constantly all day every day.
Periodically I will take a moment to provide a list of those who I think you might find it useful to follow. Today’s “follow Friday” recommendations focus on those in the U.S. government who tweet about innovation and intellectual property, with a focus on those who are lesser-known, at least based on the number of Twitter followers.
Of course, you can follow me on Twitter @ipwatchdog.
Dr. Rebecca Blank — @CommerceSec on Twitter
Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce
Dr. Rebecca Blank is the current Acting United States Secretary of Commerce, having taken over the job when Secretary Bryson stepped down due to health concerns. By all accounts she is a very capable steward, and will likely remain as Acting Secretary at least through the end of President Obama’s first term.
How is it possible that Secretary Blank has only 2,720 followers? Frankly, this shows that name recognition is far more important than substance on Twitter, which is unfortunate.
Secretary Blank is quite active on Twitter, but not abusively so. She tweets about the virtues of innovation and patents being important for business and economic growth and development.
Regardless of your political philosophy, if you are a believer in the patent system and innovation more generally you will find what Secretary Blank has to say to be refreshing. She get’s it. For example, in a speech she recently lamented the fact that the U.S. is not producing more graduates in math and science disciplines. She also said: ““Patents are a critical tool to help commercialize game-changing ideas. They’re the fuel for innovation.” She laid out 4 steps needed to remedy the U.S. innovation deficit, which focuses on strong IP rights and more funding for basic research.
Federal Trade Commission — @FTC on Twitter
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was created in 1914, with the purpose of preventing unfair methods of competition in commerce as part of the battle to “bust the trusts.” Over the years, Congress passed additional laws giving the agency greater authority to police anticompetitive practices. Today, the FTC is the only federal agency with both consumer protection and competition jurisdiction.
The FTC is involved in many things related to technology and intellectual property. They have jurisdiction over Antitrust matters, they have been engaged in discussing patent matters and they pursue claims of fraud or misrepresentation.
As of today the FTC has only 9,815 followers. That seems abysmally low given how far reaching FTC jurisdiction.
Law Library of Congress — @LawLibCongress on Twitter
Congress established its Law Library in 1832, recognizing its need for ready access to reliable legal materials. The Law Library has grown over the years to become the world’s largest law library, with a collection of over 2.65 million volumes spanning the ages and covering virtually every jurisdiction in the world. They also have a rather active Twitter account too!
THOMAS — @THOMASdotgov on Twitter
THOMAS was launched in January of 1995, at the start of the 104th Congress. Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. Today, THOMAS offers the primary collection on information pertaining to Bills pending before Congress.
U.S. Copyright Office — @CopyrightOffice on Twitter
The Copyright Office is the centralized location within the United States government where claims to copyrights are registered.
Congress enacted the first federal copyright law in May 1790. Originally, claims were recorded by clerks of U.S. district courts, but in 1870 copyright functions centralized in the Library of Congress. The Copyright Office became a separate department of the Library of Congress in 1897.
The Copyright Office is not a frequent user of Twitter, but if you are interested in intellectual property you really should be following them, shouldn’t you? It is unfortunate that they do not more actively use their Twitter account to push information relating to copyrights, which is a concern of so many Americans from creators to school teachers who want to know what they can legally use in classrooms. They have a ton of high quality, easy to understand information in the various Copyright Circulars. Tweeting those alone would make for great information.
Quentin Palfrey — @qpalfrey on Twitter
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Quentin Palfrey doesn’t tweet all the frequently, but you should be following him for sure. Quentin works in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and his official title according to the White House website is Senior Advisor to the CTO, Jobs and Competitiveness.
As of the time I am writing this Palfrey has only 92 followers, which is hard to understand. He is a frequent contributor to the Office of Science and Technology Policy blog, and anyone interested in initiatives and activities of the federal government should be following him.
Of course, you should also be following the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy — @whitehouseostp — but that word is already out it seems. They have 294,488 followers presently.
Editor’s Note: This article was written on Saturday, August 4, 2012.