Geek Appointed as Director of Citizen Participation

And that's good news, another sign that eParticipation is ready for prime time. 

Hopes are raised today that Change.gov's sort of citizen engagement is on its way to WhiteHouse.gov. As first reported by MediaMemo's Peter Kafka, Google's Katie Jacobs Stanton will be joining the White House as the new Director of Citizen Participation, starting in March.

What's fascinating is that in bringing Stanton in-house, the Obama Administration is bringing in the mechanic to drive the car (or some less clunky phrase). Stanton, reports the TechChuck blog, was part of the team that brought to life Google Moderator. That's the tool that powered Change.gov's Open for Questions. And during the presidential campaign, Stanton worked on the company's Elections and Moderator team. (via TechPresident)


Top 10 Websites to Connect With the Obama Administration

usa_serviceWhat websites exist for interacting with our new President? Shaun Dakin takes a look at tools that the Obama administration will control and those that they will not over on Mashable >> 

How will Barack Obama employ social media as president?

What a wonderful day! And plenty of observers have already noted the key role that the Internet and social media played in the successful campaign of Barack Obama. But the question that strikes me is: when he’s President, how will he utilize the hundreds of thousands of MySpace friends, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, My.BarackObama.com members, and SMS opt-ins, just to name a few, to advance his policies and­ ­­politics­? Are we on the verge of a new era of eParticipation in politics?

Twitter VoteReport - Live election tracking

­­Just a quick note for folks interested in following the election today. If you want a fun way to track what's going on across the country in real time, check out Twitter VoteReport (that link is a graphical map view, to view the text updates, click here) - which unfortunately seems to be down at the moment, guess web traffic is taking it's toll. You can check incoming messages from voters on Twitter itself, if the service remains unavailable. These are reports sent in live from people all over the place.

And if you have a Twitter account yourself, just include #votereport in your tweet to get it published to the VoteReport page.

OpenWebDay Focuses on Online Participation in Democracy


From the OneWebDay website: 

OneWebDay is one day a year when we all - everyone around the physical globe - can celebrate the Web and what it means to us as individuals, organizations, and communities.


The idea behind OneWebDay is to:

  • focus attention on a key internet value (this year, online participation in democracy)
  • focus attention on local internet concerns (connectivity, censorship, individual skills)
  • create a global constituency that cares about protecting and defending the internet

We’re building towards September 22, a Monday this year.

Curious to see what activities around online participation in democracy will be offered.  

What is mParticipation and what does it bring to the table?

Stefan Höffken at Zebralog has a nice post on mParticipation at the new PEP-Net Blog:

Mobile Participation (mParticipation) seems to be the next step in ePartizipation. With the rising of the iPhone and other smart phones and combined with other features like GPS and Location Based Services the expectations for new applications for are high. Consequently mobile applications amplify eParticipation in an spatial and temporal dimension. Not only at home, but also e.g. traveling in the metro, participants are enabled to read, write and follow the discussions.

While the discussion about mParticipation itself is not new, the debate about its benefits is changing with new phones and features coming out on a weekly basis. At this point, I feel the question is, what do we call mParticipation and where is the difference to what we consider eParticipation?
In my eyes, using smartphones to participate in online dialogues or consultation processes shouldn't be considered mParticipation. Technologies change and a couple of years from now I doubt there's going to be any differentiation whether citizens use desktop PCs, laptops, xBoxes, mobile devices or whatever online-enabled device comes next to participate in eParticipation projects.
Where I agree with Stefan, and feel some of the comments are coming short, is the added value mobile devices can bring to the table - the core of mParticipation. Stefan points out that
"even if SMS only offer limited possibilities (because of the restriction to 160 signs) in comparison to mobile internet devices, there are arguments for integration in participation processes. They are an easy to use feature, they are cheap, they can be integrated to web (and vice versa). Looking at demoscopic data, they even offer more advantages."
The point is they are ubiquitous, basically everyone on the street carries them. This is the true value which we need to explore further - how do we best use mobile devices as points-of-entry to the main engagement offering: a short question, first statements, spatial annotations, etc. that are context-sensitive and make the connection between project and everyday life of our target audiences. And responses with further information and automatic opt-ins into a contact database are bridges that can help to turn interested passerbys into engaged participants. The design of those kinds of cross-media participation processes is still in its infancy. I barely know good examples in the field (any pointers?), but looking at the shifts going on in the marketing world, there's a lot of potential.

Finally, I believe we shouldn't get hung up in discussions about whether mParticipation is a next step (e.g. here and here), but an addition to the toolset with a lot of potential that still needs to prove its true benefits.

PEP-Net launched: New european eParticipation Network

My colleague Hans Hagedorn just came back from the PEP-Net Kick-Off:

PEP-NET will be a European network of all stakeholders active in the field of eParticipation. PEP-NET therefore already includes public bodies, solution providers and citizen organizations as well as researchers and scientists. The network is open to all organizations willing and actively trying to advance the idea and use of eParticipation in Europe.

The project aims to help overcome fragmentation and promote best practice by connecting established and experienced eParticipation players and networks throughout Europe as a critical first step. The objective of this project is to achieve critical mass for the establishment of a Pan European eParticipation Network (PEP-NET). Such a network will act as a repository and disseminator of good practice and exchange of experience, and be a visible resource for all interested parties across the European Union.

PEP-NET will ensure wider access to European eParticipation projects and permit more effective dialogue between eParticipation experts, researchers, practitioners, public administrations, civil society organisations and the interested public with the ultimate goal of facilitating knowledge transfer, encouraging further eParticipation trials and establishing European leadership in this field.


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.


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 >>

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