Ankur Thakkar’s road to being the social media guru at the Chicago Mayor’s Office was a little indirect, but he finds that all of his interests led him to where he is today and apply to his current position.
After working at the University of Chicago for 11 months, Thakkar started working in government for the first time.
Thakkar enjoys writing as well as listening to music, reading, and social media. He is also the social media coordinator at TriQuarterly Online–an online journal that celebrates writing, art and culture.
“Storytelling brought me to social media,” Thakkar said.
On any given day, his schedule consists of waking up, writing, going to work, and then going home to read.
Thakkar believes that in terms of social media, Facebook is the biggest tool at the moment because of how many people are on it as opposed to other sites. But in regard to usage, Thakkar thinks that “there’s a huge knowledge gap between people who know social media and those who don’t.”
Thakkar says that in the mayor’s social media department, he only deletes vulgar and threatening comments, but he leaves the rest because “censorship goes against what social media is about.”
Existing city data sets can be found at data.cityofchicago.org, and Thakkar says that the most popular set on the site is how much city employees make. Apps have been built out of these sets, and for those who don’t have Internet access, many of the tools are accessible by texting.
Those working on the Chicago Cultural Plan want to get Chicago residents involved, and have therefore taken the conversation online. This is just one example of social media helping residents communicate with those in government, said Thakkar.