Pew Internet has released an extensive new report titled, “Civic Engagement in the Digital Age.” The research, based on over 2,000 phone interviews during the summer of 2012, begins to paint a picture of civic engagement, particularly political engagement, during a period of explosive growth in the use of social networking sites. Among the report’s findings:
- 48% of adults directly take part in a civic group or activity.
- 39% of adults recently contacted a government official or spoke out in a public forum via offline methods.
- 34% did those things via online methods.
- 39% of adults do political or civic activities on social networking sites.
Download the full report here.
There is a good piece by Courtney Martin, on the Stanford Social Innovation Review site titled: Transforming Democracy Through Digital Technology. Martin reports from the recent TEDxWomen conference, on the democracy/technology connection. Among her lessons learned:
- It’s not just you. No one’s got it quite right yet.
- Don’t build it. They won’t come.
- You are not the target user.
- Data is where it’s at.
- Optimism is the technology we need most.
Read the details at ssireview.org
“The thought is father to the deed, at least when it comes to the relationship between online social interactions and offline activities. A new survey shows that more than half of users on four of the top five social platforms have taken offline action directly as a result of an online interaction. The findings suggest that businesses and organizations can grow their customer base, increase revenue and drive greater participation by linking online behaviors to offline activity.” Read the full article at mashable.com
“. . . we are nowhere close to realizing the full potential of technology for engagement. Many projects have a limited impact and uncertain duration. Others make government more efficient, yet not more effective at building community and drawing in residents as part of the solution.
In fact, we will only begin to realize technology’s potential when we use this kind of engagement to not just fix potholes, as useful as that is, but to bring people together to tackle the major social problems and issues of our times.”
Read the full article here.
As we get closer to that time of year when more people are thinking about that part of civic engagement that involves politics and voting, people may be looking for a place to help them get their arms around things. A new site called EveryVote, refers itself as “The Civic Engagement Social Network Platform.” The site is non-profit and open-source. It is designed to help users find the objective political information most relevant to them, and offers a variety of tools that make political engagement at any level less difficult. Check it out for yourself.
If you live in North Quincy and Wollaston, Massachusetts or Detroit, Michigan, you can participate in city planning via an online engagement game called Community PlanIt. Last September and October, Boston Public Schools used Community PlanIt for a project around measuring school quality. An impressive 450 people registered and those people shared 4600 comments.
“The Civic and Political Significance of Online Participatory Cultures and Youth Transitioning to Adulthood”
Joseph Kahne – Mills College, Nam-Jin Lee – College of Charleston, Jessica Timpany Feezell – UC Santa Barbara
Digital Media and Learning Central http://dmlcentral.net/resources/4422