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Social Media in Public Life

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Social Media in Public Life

  1. 1. Social Media in Public Life Steven Clift, E-Democracy.Org
  2. 2. 1. Introduction 2. Online Civic Engagement 101 – “e-democracy” 3. Social Media in Public Life Examples 4. Issues Forums and Participation 3.0
  3. 3. Introduction • Steven Clift or • International – e-democracy consultant, speeches – @democracy on across 26 countries, Twitter advised the UN, OECD, etc. • Founder, E-Democracy.Org in 1994 – volunteer until • Ashoka Fellowship today supported 3 year full- time focus on E-Democracy.Org • Executive Director today
  4. 4. One morning I awoke to hear … • It all started in 1994 … – Minnesota E-Democracy, the world’s first election information website – Post-election “Issues Forum” continued – our role “discovered”: a trusted, neutral host of civil, agenda-setting online dialogue among people with differing perspectives and backgrounds • Government by day, citizen by night …
  5. 5. A new Athens for Democracy?
  6. 6. The Big Problem
  7. 7. The Big Problem • Social media/networking is “publicizing” private life not building public life in our communities • National politics online is stuck in divided partisan echo chambers Source: The Political Blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. Election: Divided They Blog By Lada Adamic and Natalie Glance
  8. 8. Big Local Problem: Online News Comments • Anonymous/Behind Aliases - Mainstream Media Adopting Poor, Divisive Model • Negative, Vitriolic, Worst in Us Flame Fest • Poisoning the pool for local use of the Internet for community engagement • Media now undermining their democratic mission in community
  10. 10. Defining e-democracy • E-democracy is: – the use information and communication Political technologies and Groups strategies – by “democratic sectors” E-Citizens Non-Profit Government – within the political Civic processes of local Groups communities, states, nations and on the global Media and stage. Commercial - E-Democracy.Org Content promotes active citizen participation by taking the “e-citizen” perspective
  11. 11. Government Sampler • Some Quick Examples Next • For detailed government, media, advocacy, “democracy sector” examples see: – Great Expectations: After the vote – citizens online, e-democracy in governance, and White House 2.0 – Slides and audio: – How the Internet Can Support Government Transparency and Citizen Engagement Presentation:
  12. 12. Organize Supporters – Gather E-mail
  13. 13. Government Transparency State list maintained by Center for Fiscal Accountability
  14. 14. Government E-Alerts
  15. 15. E-Petitions Hosted by Gov in UK 7+ percent of British population have signed an e-petition • UK Prime Minister’s E-Petitions – • Kingston upon Thames – 15
  16. 16. Democracy/Consultation Portal • Queensland’s democracy portal, policy - AU – • Ask Bristol Consultation and Webcasting - UK 16 –
  17. 17. Reusing Local Gov/Other Data • –
  18. 18. Read • Sidewalks for Democracy Online, in Rebooting America book • Ten Practical Steps for Government Support of commissioned by General Services Administration • See “Articles” section at: –
  20. 20. Citizen Media • Use of online tools by the public to express themselves, share news, etc. • As individuals, as hosted by “media,” or via new associations • “Local voices” – Our interest is in local/geographic uses by local people for local people – rural communities, neighborhoods • Output: News, information, expression
  21. 21. Online Engagement • Highly interactive use of social media in public life NOT just private life • Citizen-to-citizen, government/institution input from public or under hosts auspice • Not well explored • Output: Participation, informed public, expression, better decisions, public problem-solving, community building
  22. 22. Minnesota Voices Online • Online community of practice leading up to in-person “unconference” – – Aggressive online outreach – Use of e-list/forum pre/post-event – Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, UStream, Blogs, etc. during event, on-demand
  23. 23. Facebook and Twitter Myths? • Should Facebook and Twitter get all the attention? – Daily American Facebook Users (all ages) – 30 million – Daily American E-mail Users (just adults) - 130.5 million • That’s 60% of adult Internet users checking e-mail on typical day, within 30% staying offline so only 10% who go online don’t check their e-mail that day) Sources: Facebook: E-mail users: Pew Internet and American Life Surveys – Twitter:
  24. 24. 17 Examples, 17 Seconds Each
  25. 25. Local Twittering • Find Tweets by Place via Advanced Search – • Minnesota Recount #mnrecount “channel” • Also note media use of:
  26. 26. Placeblog • Pelican Rapids Minnesota 56572 Blog –
  27. 27. Placeblog + Journalism • LocallyGrownNorthield –
  28. 28. Community News Aggregator + • Twin Cities Daily Planet – http://
  29. 29. Local Photo Sharing Communities • Winona Place/Group – • Minnesota Road Side Marvels –
  30. 30. Looking Good on Wikipedia th Du l u y v. e Cit n v. Pi kley Hinc • Small town Pine City, Minnesota does it –,_Minnesota
  31. 31. Community Wiki • Kickapoo Valley, WI – Kickapedia • Citizens Guide to St. Paul
  32. 32. Statewide Videosharing Contest • Belll Museum’s Minnesota Minute.Org – http://
  33. 33. Maps, Camera, Mobile, Action • (UK) – mySociety.Org –
  34. 34. Local Facebook Groups (Ghost Towns) • Private social networking goes public in Duluth – • Living the Ojibwe language • • Politicians/organizations gravitating to top-down elite “Fan” pages over groups and other more democratic two-ways models online
  35. 35. Participation Inequality • Most User Generated Websites Suffer from Participation Inequality – See – 2-3% of YouTube users actually upload video, but with huge base amount of video is staggering • – Twitter’s “public” approach attracts the extroverted with 10% of users generating 90% of posts with the median number of tweets for all those who set up accounts only 1 • – Facebook’s “gated community” with interactivity among friends in private life seems to breakthrough with user contributions – with 15% updating their status to friends daily – Consideration: Demographics of those using various sites – civic projects needs as inclusive a base as possible – see danah boyd’s talk on “The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online” • • Note for later … E-Democracy.Org’s Standish Ericsson neighborhood Issues Forum had 26% participation rate among registered participants posting at least once in May 2009 – Ability to push reply in e-mail and write only required skill –
  36. 36. Local Online Groups • Minnesota Homestead – • – UK-based – • Standish Ericsson Neighbors Forum –
  37. 37. Change.Gov and Online Engagement • Change.Gov Highly Interactive, Next? – • Online Consultation Community of Practice –
  38. 38. White House Open Government • WhiteHouse.Gov/Open • Major breakthrough – Round 2 allowed public blog comments on U.S. GOVERNMENT website. Used comment community ratings to build decorum instead of government censorship. • If the Feds can do this, what pressure does it put on the levels of government “closer to the people” to catch-up with real interactivity?
  39. 39. Schools and Online Engagement • Moundsview Public Schools – 39
  40. 40. Schools and Online Engagement Mixed anonymous online survey using SurveyMonkey with length limited, real signed and moderated open public comment feature similar to a public hearing/ roundtable discussion. 40
  41. 41. Community Builders NSW - Australia • Extremely Rare, Long-time Example • Public collaboration hosted by government convening those working meet similar public challenges. • Past articles on “public net-work” for OECD:
  42. 42. Live Rural Villages Town Meeting, India –
  43. 43. Sometimes Fun
  45. 45. What is your objective? • Too often tools are used for tools sake. • Most e-participation projects fail to meet goals or last more than a few months.
  46. 46. • Blog Connect the Word • Forum • Online News/Blog Comments • Chat • Social Network • Online Consultation • Online Working Group • Web Feed
  47. 47. What’s Your Model Vs.
  48. 48. What’s Your Model Vs.
  49. 49. What’s Your Model Vs. Vs.
  50. 50. Issues Forums E-Democracy.Org’s lessons from the field leading to a “Participation 3.0” opportunity Extended webinar and guidebook from:
  51. 51. The Problem • Lack of Participation in Local Democracy – Time – Trust and accountability – Loss of civility – Sense your voice won’t be heard
  52. 52. The Problem • Need to Make Participation More Effective – Timely access to information and opinions when it matters – Openness and inclusion – Building social capital – Need more deliberative opportunities – People need to experience lasting power and influence
  53. 53. We Are Building • Any time, anywhere democracy • Two-way online town hall meeting – NOT typical male-dominated political blogs (Hyde Park) or reactionary anonymous news comments • Low-cost, volunteer-based, network of service club like local democracy committees – 15+ communities
  54. 54. Private Spaces with “Public” Qualities – v. Online Public Spaces
  55. 55. Need Public Spaces – Online Versions of Town Halls, Capitols • Online public spaces, not just “public” commercial spaces • Need for decorum, civility, agenda- setting, relevance, accountability <- The Minnesota Capitol Rotunda
  56. 56. Blogofest Destiny? • Blogs democratize media, provide accountability •Are highly individualistic often privately controlled spaces with rare dialogue • Now Twitter, Facebook hypewaves obscure common sense, accessible approaches
  57. 57. Local Issues Forums • The online town hall – City-wide, neighborhoods as well – Where is local power? – We place an online public space in the center – “Government websites don’t have sidewalks.” (Or public hearings online.) – Need for independent online spaces for media accountability – Locally “owned” by civic-inspired citizen committee as part of E-Democracy.Org
  58. 58. How Issues Forums Work Researcher Position forum Ma #1 yor Citizen in center of r rte St real power ud p o Re en t n #2 Citize C i Issues Forum Personal t GroupServer Candidate Networks i e-mails posts z Post via e-mail/web web view Polit e ical A ctivis n t s 0 50 Ne Ci n# ty igh e e-publish, tiz C Forum Manager ou bo Ci nc rho il fly many-to-many od Gad Lea der
  59. 59. How Issues Forums Work • Participants agree to rules – Sign real name – Post no more than twice a day – Stay within scope of local charter – May be suspended for violations – Forum is facilitated, NOT pre- moderated, those posting content are 100% responsible for what they post – More:
  60. 60. Issues Forums Office Leader’s Local Media Researcher Agenda-setting Ma Coverage #1 yor discussions, “e-mail Citizen leaks,” facilitation and r rte St rule enforcement key ud p o Re en t Online discussions n #2 in the heart Citize C of local i power Issues Forum Personal t GroupServer Candidate Networks i Subscribe once e-mails posts z Commitment secured Post via e-mail/web web view Polit e ical A ctivis n t s 0 50 Ne Ci n# ty igh e tiz C Forum Manager “Secondary ou bo Ci nc rho Networks” il fly od e-mail forwards Council Gad Lea media agenda-setting Department der
  61. 61. Issues Forums – E-Democracy.Org Recent Topics • Response to mugging near light rail – • Consultation on redevelopment – • Community garden – Talk to action • Inaugural blue jean event in Cass Lake – • Local “think tank” in Cook County MN
  62. 62. Mapping Local Power • Recruitment to make the forum “matter” politically is essential, best upfront • Elected officials, community leaders, local journalists, active citizens • “Average” citizens will not waste time in a forum that does not matter • Work from the “center” and avoid marginalization • Gives the deliberations reach and local agenda-setting power
  63. 63. Recruiting 100+ Members • Build it and they will NEVER come • Most similar efforts fail on recruitment not technology • One at a time – In-person recruitment, community events • Outreach - local media, “virtual door knocking” • More: Outreach in Cedar Riverside
  64. 64. Forum Facilitation • Forum manager guides the forum, enforces the rules • Selected and held accountable by local steering committee • Peer training/support network for forum managers • Issues Forum guidebook chapter, Minneapolis lessons: –
  65. 65. Online courage? “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…” Mayor RT Rybak on his participation in the online Minneapolis Issues Forum – Video from:
  66. 66. Leader “Challenges” • Barriers To Use of Net by Community Leaders 1. Lack of time/tools to keep up with e-mail from constituents. 2. They thrive on face-to-face interpersonal connections. Online lacks that social cues they rely on to keep control of communication situations. 3. Sense that things are moving too rapidly to know where to best invest scarce time. 4. Diffusion of channels - website, e-newsletter, blog, twitter, social networks, local forums/blogs/news sites, etc. - where to start? 5. Desire to communicate one-way (be my "fan" on Facebook) versus two-way/many-to-many dialogue online. 6. Harsh nature of existing mostly anonymous/aliases based online political expression. Well below the "worth it" threshold and is poisoning the pool so to speak.
  67. 67. Local Issues Forums Today • Bemidji, MN – 117 members, New • Cass Lake Leech Lake – 173 members, New  • Cook County, MN – 173 members, New • Grand Rapids, MN – 89 members, Opening soon • Minneapolis, MN – 1114 members – Cedar Riverside – 123 members, Just opened – Seward NHood – 223 members – Standish-Ericsson NHood – 352 members – Powderhorn Nhood – 232 members, New • St. Paul, MN – 628 members • Roseville, MN – 197 members • Winona, MN – 94 members • Las Vegas, NM – 119 members • Central Ohio Region – 126 members • Brighton and Hove, UK – 287 members • Newham, UK – 182 members • Bristol 2 NHoods, UK – 235 members • Oxford 3 NHoods, UK – 370 members • Canterbury (Christchurch), NZ – 227 members
  68. 68. Participation 3.0 • Imagine the world’s deepest and most comprehensive local online civic engagement project • 10% Households in Minneapolis and St. Paul core cities – ~30,000 participants everyday • Did I say everyday?
  69. 69. Issues Forums Tomorrow • Neighborhood Issues Forums – Minneapolis/St. Paul pilots … Ford Foundation, others? • Greater social networking infusion and connections • Local everywhere – starting point for light weight start-up • Electronic block-clubs on up … • “Now Do Something” public problem-solving features • Americorps/VISTA explorations, … promoting the field • Capital to innovate, transition to generate community by community revenue for sustainability
  70. 70. Today in Minneapolis and St. Paul 2 city-wide Issues Forums – 10+ years Minneapolis 6 new at the neighborhood level Issues Forum Neighbor Forums St. Paul Issues Forum “Online town hall” discussion and community life exchange based on bounded places – city boundaries, official neighborhoods/district councils hosts 25 community-wide and neighborhood online agenda- setting “Issues Forums” across 15 communities in three countries – US, UK, and New Zealand. Our largest base is in Minnesota, where we are proposing a Participation 3.0 pilot and prototype. More:
  71. 71. Next Generation Person/Household - Minneapolis More Areas, Inclusion Participant-centric social Issues Forum networking in “public life” Neighbor Forums Add E-Block Clubs and More St. Paul Issues Forum More neighborhood-level Issues Forums, greater participation in city-wide Issues Forums and … Point-specific social networking Build next generation pilot based on our connects people in neighbors-only “electronic block clubs.” People can join strengths and actual and existing local and self-organize with help. thousands strong “e-citizen” participant base.
  72. 72. Participation 3.0 • Most online civic projects lack participants/ audience • Need local partners – from cities seeking online surveys and input options to police/ neighborhoods for e-block clubs to local non-profits for “do something” tools • Key is to leverage the 30,000 participants and built or free services across the Net
  73. 73. Participation 3.0 • Request outline draft to get involved: –
  74. 74. Local Issues Forums More • Short TV Interview • 60 Page Guidebook • One Hour Webinar • And more … – • Live forums:
  75. 75. More • • • •