Transforming Communities, David W. Patti


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During Heinz College Reunion 2009, alumni gathered for a presentation titled “Transforming Communities: IT, Civic Engagement and Economic Development.” The panel was moderated by Rick Stafford, MSPPM 1972, Heinz College Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy. Panelists shared examples of their application of policy and technology to advance cities, government and businesses.

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  • While I tend to think that content is king and the means of delivery is trivial, maybe Marshall McLuhan was right: maybe the medium conveys a message regardless of content (his light bulb analogy). McLuhan proposed that media themselves, not the content they carry, should be the focus of study — popularly quoted as "the medium is the message". McLuhan's insight was that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not by the content delivered over the medium, but by the characteristics of the medium itself. McLuhan pointed to the light bulb as a clear demonstration of this concept. A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness. He describes the light bulb as a medium without any content. McLuhan states that "a light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence.“
  • The emergence of new media in the late 1990s and early 21 st century forced us to think about patterns of communication – and revenue models. “ content” = discrete bits of information. Content might be written, audio, visual, graphic or mixed media. “ old media” includes books, newspapers, magazines, journals, speeches, maps, charts, tables, photos, diagrams …. “ new media” includes email, text messaging, internet, podcasts, You Tube, Twitter, Content provider is an author, speaker, artist, presenter. Exo-informative is the original teaching model. Parents say; children listen and learn. Teachers lecture; students learn. Ideally there would be a feedback loop and some confirmation.
  • Endo-informative The original “collection” – cave drawings -- the scribe who writes it all down – the Old Testament. Text books are an aggregation of content and learning – the best of Reading lists and annotated bibliographies were the original “links” pages
  • Dynamic equilibrium A balance between aggregation and distribution. A true publisher. the newspaper that gathers content from its reporters and correspondents and publishes it for all to read the academic journal that gathers and makes available recent learning from scholars. Again, there should be feedback if there is communication.
  • Synergistic Syndication The sum of the parts is greater than the value of the individual components because of processing. Value is added to the content through analysis, comparison, critical thinking.
  • Organic syndication. Neither content providers or content aggregators are planned. They may not even be fully known to one another. The network simply grows, expands, evolves. The content is continually improved it is processed and value is added to it. The network paths are many, varied and unrestricted. They embrace emerging technologies but are seldom constrained to defined technologies. Network paths evolve along with the network. Thanks to modern communications technology, people – including businesspersons – live, work and learn in such a network. This model looks like a policy network – and is how the policy network actually operates with the currency of knowledge or content.
  • Public policy issue networks emerged as a new model for public policy in the 1980s and early 1990s replacing the 100 year old “Iron Triangles” model. Derives from open systems theory. Describes the behavior and inter-relationships of institutional role players in the policy process. The point of this model is the continuous stream of communication and learning (on an organizational and individual level) between the institutional role players. The lynchpin is the issue area (environment, labor, trade, etc.), not the institutional role. The elected chief executive and/or cabinet and appointees give speeches, write policy papers, etc. which are digested by the others in the network. Ditto the legislative branch. The permanent bureaucracy must respond to the elected/appointed exes but have their routine reports, studies, and processes. They also have “clients” in the regulated community. The media and journal writers follow these developments and report them. The academics study the product of the network and hold conferences – attended by others in the network.
  • Transforming Communities, David W. Patti

    1. 1. Heinz College Reunion David W. Patti Transforming Communities: IT, Civic Engagement & Economic Development
    2. 2. <ul><li>We live in a “global village.” </li></ul><ul><li>Communities can be defined without geographic boundaries. Communities are defined by common interests – the business community. </li></ul><ul><li>The business community lives, works and learns in such a “global village” network. </li></ul><ul><li>The medium is the message – or at least influences the message. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Content Provider / Transmitter Content Subscriber/ Receiver Content Subscriber/ Receiver Content Subscriber/ Receiver
    4. 4. Content Provider Content Provider Content Provider Content Aggregator
    5. 5. Content Subscriber and Provider Content Subscriber and Provider Content Subscriber and Provider Content Provider / Aggregator
    6. 6. Content Subscriber and Provider Content Subscriber and Provider Content Subscriber and Provider Content Provider / Aggregator Processing Processing Processing Processing
    7. 8. Elected Chief Executive Media Academia Legislative Permanent Bureaucracy Special Interests
    8. 9. Economic Competitiveness Empowers Development
    9. 10. Collaborative Associations Effort <ul><li>Associated Pennsylvania Constructors </li></ul><ul><li>Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania </li></ul><ul><li>Hospital & Health Association of Pennsylvania </li></ul><ul><li>Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania </li></ul><ul><li>National Federation of Independent Businesses/Pennsylvania </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Business Council </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Coal Association </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Credit Union Association </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Defense Institute </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Medical Society </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Restaurant Association </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Retailers Association </li></ul><ul><li>Pennsylvania Telephone Association </li></ul><ul><li>TechQuest Pennsylvania </li></ul>
    10. 11. Aggregating Content
    11. 12. Distributing Content
    12. 13. Civic Engagement
    13. 14. Conclusions <ul><li>Communities are where you find them and what you make of them. </li></ul><ul><li>IT is a transformational tool, but not an end unto itself. </li></ul><ul><li>IT enhances processes for civic engagement. </li></ul>