Friday, June 17, 2005

Where is the Power?

Many of you are aware that I spent the early months of 2005 working on a report commissioned by an affinity group of foundations (Philanthropists for Active Citizen Engagement - PACE) that describes recent developments of online civic engagement and examines the implications these efforts have on future citizen engagement campaigns.

Working with Marty Kearns of Green Media Toolshed and Allison Fine formerly of the E-Volve Foundation and Innonet, I interviewed many great folks, read a lot of excellent articles, and examined a number of online efforts. It was a most interesting exploration and you can read the results here:

Power to the Edges: Trends and Opportunities in Online Civic Engagement

The report also includes a companion discussion blog.

The biggest take-away for me was that in large part due to the Internet and other new digital technologies, citizens are participating in democracy and civic life in entirely new ways and that the old organizational models of engaging them are increasingly ineffective. And... that if nonprofits and their supporting foundations don't "get it," they are likely to continue to be throwing time and money down the drain and experiencing lackluster results at best.

The partners in this report-- PACE and the E-Volve Foundation-- are committed to this document being a first edition of a projected annual report or otherwise evolving document. Their intent is to engage a broad community of individuals -- mostly through web logs (blogs)-- and update the report over time-- especially given that uses of new technologies for civic engagement are changing rapidly.

1 comment:

Jillaine Smith said...

In the Reporting on Power the Edges department, the September Wired has a short article about the new "proletariat press" entitled "Everyone's a Reporter: A guide to grassroots journalism" by Lucas Graves. He writes about how the first to report a story is now often a "nonprofessional" and highlights such news services as OhMyNews and WikiNews.

Referencing Dan Gillmor's We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People, Graves writes that the "proletariat press" are no longer just handing source material to the professionals; they're publishing it themsleves. "Journalists still need Joe Citizen, but he doesn't need them."

But the pros aren't going away: mainstream press still has the required resources for dealing with big investigative projects such as Watergate or Enron.

In the same issue of Wired, there's an add for the Politics to Go conference coming up at George Washington University on September 13, 2005. The conf will showcase how mobile tech is changing American politicking. Who's going?