Social media is a Fog Machine in the Fog of Politics; a New Civic-social Media Needed to Clear the Air
Civic Media could be Trustworthy
The technology exists to create a trustworthy Civic-social media. The need is urgent. It needs to be built quickly, literally from the ground up, based on the legal voting residence of participants.
"Safe Communities": The Quaint Early Days of Facebook
In the quaint early days of Facebook, only thirteen short years ago, membership was available exclusively to college students on 30 selected campuses. Membership had reached 150,000 and the original plan of Mark Zuckerberg and his two Harvard roommates who co-founded the service was to return to Harvard that fall and grow their company cautiously, adding schools slowly because as Zuckerberg explained “we wanted to create safe communities” and according to a New York Times article the following year, “make sure the system could handle the increased use.”Read more
Anybody who has been close to a news story knows that “news judgments” are often wrong. Making news judgments more explicit might be a step toward making them better. The April 9th incident Dr. David Dao being dragged off a full United flight holds key lessons about news judgment.
Conclusion First: Bottom Line Up-Front
Current norms of journalism leave news consumers guessing whether outright omissions and varying weightings of facts are deliberate and motivated by reason, deliberate and motivated by an interest in spin, or not deliberate and simply reflecting ignorance. This problem is especially evident when big stories like "United Breaks Heads" are breaking. Consumers could be better served by journalism that tells them the reporter’s conclusion up-front followed by supporting details and links to the depth of the journalist’s background work.
“People in civic tech didn’t go through the hurdles of face-to-face civic life…We need to think about design,” said Tiago Carneiro Peixoto, Team Lead, World Bank’s Digital Engagement Unit, during a recent panel discussion entitled The Ethics of Democracy Entrepreneurship. The event was hosted by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard.
Serious Thinking about Democratic Design
Peixoto wasn’t talking about design details – he was talking about fundamental institutional design in its full political-economic context. The term democratic design crystalized the topic of the panel. Such thinking represents important progress in the development of civic tech and civic media.Read more
So…I am not saying that Hulk Hogan didn’t have a case against Gawker but there are much better uses of the 10 million “Washingtons” Peter Thiel invested to punish Gawker. More generally, Thiel and other Tech Billionaires are getting poor returns on the millions they are putting into philanthropic, social, and political investments because they are nibbling around the edges of the biggest problem.
The biggest problem is that it sucks to be an active citizen. You can focus in one area for a lifetime and with a little luck and talent make a real difference but meanwhile twenty other things you really care about are going to hell. Reliable civic information is incredibly hard to come by, organizing is the task of Sisyphus, and meanwhile you’ve got a life to lead, family, a job, and many other things to do in your waking hours besides go to fruitless meetings.
If Civic Tech excites you, you would have loved the recent Roundtable on the Future of Technology and Democracy. The Roundtable took place at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
The Roundtable was an indication that Civic Tech is becoming more citizen-centric and less tech-centric. Civic means “relating to citizenship or being a citizen.” The dictionary definition of civics is “the study of the rights and duties of citizens and of how government works.”