Lifestyle Democracy

Recently I stumbled across Traci Fenton's article 7 Trends Making Businesses More Democratic and finally discovered a term to better describe a major influence on our work that I've been thinking about a lot: Lifestyle Democracy.

We vote for the next American Idol, buy goods after reading the pros and cons that others discussed, rate our top movies, pictures, podcasts and get recommendations on what to watch, read, listen to next.

It’s the rise of what I call “lifestyle democracy,” where everything from media to music, education to fashion is being democratized. The effect of this trend: With life becoming democratized employees will expect the same at work.

... and citizens from their governments.


Looking for a new job

I recently left my former job at PlaceMatters in search of a new challenge. While I've taken on some freelance work for now, I'm ultimately looking for a full-time position somewhere at the intersection of Planning, Public Relations/Involvement and Communication Technology. 

If you, or anyone you know is looking for a passionate employee with hands-on experience implementing all stages of public involvement projects for regional visioning, comprehensive planning, and community planning, a tech-savvy urban and regional planner or creative communications manager, please have a look at my portfolio and resume and contact me.

Starbucks' eParticipation efforts a success story

When I first heard about the My Starbucks Idea campaign, I didn't pay much attention. After checking back and reading more about it, I have to say I'm impressed. 

The site asks customers to "shape the future of Starbucks" in four ways: Share, Vote, Discuss, See. Ideas are voted on after they are submitted and the ones with the most votes go into review. The "See" section lists the customer-submitted ideas that were actually adopted.

Looking at the way this eParticipation offering is designed, it seems like they've done their homework. The facilitation team is on the ball, the way ideas move from their initial stage to being implemented straightforward and transparent plus they’ve taken the “let’s talk and maybe it will impact action” concept and made the action a measurable component.  It makes the consumer feel like they're actually impacting change.

The site is powered by Salesforce.com, the same San Francisco customer-relations management firm that powers IdeaStorm.com for Dell Inc. The world's No. 2 personal computer maker started IdeaStorm early last year in hopes of repairing its battered customer-service credentials.

Both online communities offer three options for weighing in -- sharing an idea, voting on it and discussing it -- plus a tab with updates on which ideas the company is putting into action. [via seattlepi.com]

It's great to see our society moving towards a participatory culture and large companies embracing it. That still leaves the question: If Starbucks opens up and lets us, the customers, discuss "why extra milk the only difference between Venti and Grande drinks is", to a point where they now actually consider changing this (after 15000+ votes and 120+ comments), when do our cities and communities follow?

Anatomy of an eMeeting

Over the last weeks I finally found the time to put together a video outlining our eMeetings using  the video footage we collected during our community workshops for the Routt County 2030 project. 

eParticipation and Cross-Media Participation Webinar

Today I was invited to host a webinar for the EBM Tools Network  talking about our civic engagement work. I boiled down the longer presentation I usually give to leave room for a very interesting Q&A session afterwards.


Play audio file to listen to a recording of the presentation >>

C470 Interactive Map launched - Worldkit / Drupal integration

My last project at CU last year just launched. It's a showcase project to demonstrate the use of an interactive mapping tool to gather expert and local knowledge about future growth in the region, in this case the ACCEA Project. 

We have constructed a policy-focused model to assess possible cumulative development effects related to the C-470 Corridor project.  The emphasis in this analysis is on the explicit definition of development rules which govern whether or not specific parcels are likely to be built out.  These rules are derived from review of local and regional policies.  Our design relies on readily available spatial data and models as well as interviews or focus group meetings with individuals involved in local development processes.  This interactive website could make the collection of feedback on existing data from developers, local experts and community members easier and more effective­.

We decided to use Worldkit again as the mapping platform. Since this was a project with a quick turnaround time, messing with a custom mapserver application didn't seem worth the time. Worldkit provided a simple mapping solution with a tiled base map for faster loading, zooming and panning and flash overlays. Unfortunately Google Maps integration is not on the development roadmap for Worldkit so future use is somewhat limited if this is a requirement. By integrating Worldkit with Drupal, we gained access to Drupal's great  set of features to quickly build a platform with different access levels, taxonomy, comment features, list building and export features.

Interested to see it live >>


eDemocracyCamp - a barcamp on e-democracy

March 1-2, 2008
Washington DC

This is the weekend immediately prior to Politics Online Conference 2008, March 4-5, 2008 (http://polc.ipdi.org).

What is a barcamp?  A barcamp is a free, open, and highly participatory conference/workshop, at which both the agenda and the content are completely attendee-driven (oftentimes in an ad hoc fashion the day of the event).  The barcamp movement started in 2005 in Palo Alto, CA, and barcamps are now being held all across the world.  Read this description on Wikipedia for more details and the history of this format: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BarCamp

Also check Tim's blog for updates

Cross-media article in APA's Newsletter

I just had another publication about cross-media public participation published in the latest APA IT Division Newsletter >>

Citizen Superheroes - Social media and government

I like the way Tara Hunt pitches the advantages of the bottom-up Web2.0 to government in an entertaining way. Found over at Beth Kanter's blog.

First edition of Engage features article on cross-media public participation

The first edition of Engage, a Limehouse publication, features my article on cross-media public participation >>
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