Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Towards Distributed Citizen Participation: Lessons from WikiLeaks and the Queensland Floods


Published on

Keynote presented at the Conference on e-Democracy, Krems, 5-6 May 2011.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Towards Distributed Citizen Participation: Lessons from WikiLeaks and the Queensland Floods

  1. 1. Towards Distributed Citizen Participation: Lessons from WikiLeaks and the Queensland Floods<br />Assoc. Prof. Axel Bruns<br />Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia<br /> – –@snurb_dot_info<br />
  2. 2. e-Democracy?<br />Active participation of citizens in <br />the public discussion and deliberation of matters of public concern and policy<br />the organisation of communal activities and initiatives to address such matters through the use of online media<br />Depends on the sustained presence of a substantial community of users<br />
  3. 3. How Communities Work<br />Communities are concentric – in values:<br /> Shared knowledge <br />Key principles <br />Core values and beliefs <br />3<br />
  4. 4. How Communities Work<br />Communities are concentric – in membership:<br /> Marginal members <br /> General members <br /> Community leaders <br />4<br />
  5. 5. Strong e-Democracy Communities?<br />What models?<br />g2c<br />c2c<br />g4c2c?<br />Civic Commons, Civic Commons 2.0?<br />‘Roll your own’ vs. pre-existing platforms and communities<br />Coleman & Blumler (2009):<br />a space of intersecting networks, pulled together through the agency of a democratically connecting institution<br />
  6. 6. e-Democracy during Acute Events<br />Online responses to acute events:<br />Bypassing administrative hurdles<br />Fasttracking community development and structuration<br />Self-organisation around shared concerns<br />Rapid prototyping, testing of tools and platforms<br />e-Democracy?<br />Can we learn from this? Can we tap into it?<br />What principles of citizen participation can we observe?<br />
  7. 7. The 2011 Queensland Floods<br />Chronology:<br />December 2010 to January 2011: unprecedented rainfall<br />Emergency declared for more than 50% of Queensland<br />Wivenhoe dam reaches 180% capacity<br />December 2010: Flooding in northern Queensland<br />January 2011: Floods in southeast Queensland<br />10 January 2011: flash flooding in Toowoomba<br />10 January 2011: ‘inland tsunami’ in the Lockyer Valley<br />11 January 2011: flooding begins in Ipswich<br />12-16 January 2011: major flooding in Brisbane<br />
  8. 8. (Google Maps)<br />
  9. 9. (Google Maps)<br />
  10. 10. (ABC News)<br />
  11. 11. (ABC News)<br />
  12. 12. (<br />
  13. 13. (ABC News)<br />
  14. 14. (ABC News)<br />
  15. 15. (ABC News)<br />
  16. 16. Social Media during the Floods<br />Various platforms:<br />Facebook, Twitter – updates and information<br />YouTube, Flickr, Twitpic – first-hand video and photos<br />Google Maps, Ushahidi – map-based information mashups<br /><ul><li>Different tools for different purposes</li></ul>Various levels of maturity:<br />Uses and use practices still developing<br />Different demographic reach<br />Technological differences:<br />e.g. Facebook: built around personal networks; semi-private; discussion threads<br />e.g. Twitter: open, flat network; public #hashtag conversations; update stream<br />
  17. 17. #qldfloodsTweets<br />10 Jan 2011 11 Jan 2011 12 Jan 2011 13 Jan 2011 14 Jan 2011 15 Jan 2011<br />
  18. 18. 10 Jan 2011 11 Jan 2011 12 Jan 2011 13 Jan 2011 14 Jan 2011 15 Jan 2011<br />#qldfloods from Toowoomba to Brisbane<br />
  19. 19. #qldfloods @replies<br />authorities<br />mainstream media<br />
  20. 20. #qldfloods Network Map – Most Active Accounts Only(Degree >= 15 / Node size: indegree / node colour: outdegree)<br />(See<br />
  21. 21. The Queensland Floods Community<br />Self-organisation:<br />Rapid establishment of #qldfloodshashtag<br />Ad hoc development of community structures<br />Highlighting of leading accounts, vigilant against disruption<br />Suspension of petty squabbles (e.g. state politics)<br />Innovation and rapid prototyping:<br />Adjunct hashtags (#Mythbuster, #bakedrelief)<br />Sharing and gathering of online resources<br />Additional tools (Google Maps, Ushahidi Maps)<br />Emergency services rapidly adopting social media tools (despite lack of established strategies)<br /> ‘Go where they are’ rather than ‘build it and they will come’<br />
  22. 22. Image by Maproom Systems<br />
  23. 23. WikiLeaks as Acute Event<br />‘Cablegate’:<br />Leaked US diplomatic cables published from late 2010<br />Collaborations with The Guardian, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El País<br />Allegations against Julian Assange:<br />Arrest and extradition hearings since 8 Dec. 2010<br />WikiLeaks controversy:<br />Withdrawal of services by EasyDNS, Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, Amazon Web Services, ...<br />DDoS attacks against perceived ‘enemies’ of WikiLeaks<br />Involvement of ‘Anonymous’ hacker group<br /> A continuing (orchestrated?) series of acute events<br />
  24. 24. #wikileaks Tweets<br />
  25. 25. A WikiLeaks Community?<br />Various communal efforts:<br />#wikileaks community on Twitter, Facebook groups<br />Support and protest groups, loosely affiliated<br />Political support – e.g. Pirate Parties<br />Activist and hacker groups<br />Celebrity supporters (Geoffrey Robertson, Michael Moore)<br />Media organisations collaborating with WikiLeaks<br />Developers of additional tools building on WikiLeaks data<br />
  26. 26. (Drew Conway)<br />
  27. 27. Distributed Citizen Participation<br />WikiLeaks as c2c:<br />Successful mobilisation of broad coalition of supporters<br />Sustained engagement with political questions<br />Parallels with filesharing networks:<br />Forced into increasingly sophisticated sharing mechanisms<br />Gradual decentralisation of activities<br />Assange and WikiLeaks HQ becoming less central<br />Disconnect between government responses and popular opinion<br />Taps into overall disenchantment with established politics and media<br /><ul><li>WikiLeaks as a distributed community:</li></ul>“the world’s first stateless news organization” (Jay Rosen)<br />But is it out of control? How can the enthusiasm of its supporters be harnessed for e-democracy?<br />
  28. 28. Lessons from WikiLeaks and the Floods <br />Key observations for e-democracy initiatives:<br />Low hurdles to participation<br />Make it as easy as possible for people to participate meaningfully<br />Distribute across multiple platforms<br />Find people where they are, harness the specific strengths of different platforms<br />Generate a sense of community<br />Let people define for themselves what they are working towards (or against)<br />Allow community development<br />Follow and aid the structures developed by the community, don’t impose structures on them<br />Earn social capital<br />Be useful, and engage in good spirit – and the community will reward you<br />Conceptualise community engagement as a series of acute events, to focus and encourage participation?<br />
  29. 29. More Information<br />Social Media Reports:<br />1 – State of the Art<br /> (<br />2 – User Engagement Strategies<br /> (<br />Axel Bruns<br />Associate Professor<br />ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation<br />Creative Industries Faculty<br />Queensland University of Technology<br />Brisbane, Australia<br />Email:<br />Twitter: @snurb_dot_info<br />Blog:<br />Produsage:<br />LinkedIn:<br />Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond:From Production to Produsage(Peter Lang, 2008)<br />29<br />