What is the most imporant research or data for me to consider regarding online civics before next week’s State of the Internet Conference?

I’ll be on a panel next week. What sources do you consider absolutely crucial to know on this topic?

Following is the State of the Net agenda and panel description. We’ll have new data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project to discuss but I’d like to be as informed as possible. Thank you!

The State of the Social Net: A Catalyst for Civil & Political Revolution or a Hyped Distraction
– Jerry Berman, Chairman, Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee
– Alex Howard, Correspondent, Government 2.0, O’Reilly Media
– Andrew Keen, Author & Host “Keen On” at TechCrunch.tv
– Lee Rainie, (moderator) Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project
– Clay Shirky, Technology Consultant & Author

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Can you tell me more about what you mean by “online civics,” Alex?

Here’s where my mind went – Gov Cuomo’s initiative to teach civics online:


But I am assuming that’s not exactly what you meant and that you may be referring more to the notion of Civic Surplus that Beth spoke about so eloquently at Manor.GovFresh and you captured in equally eloquent fashion.

Alexander B. Howard

Sure. How does the Internet and social media change the way we relate to one another and to our government? How does the upswell in social media, mobile technology and data disrupt civil society, for good or ill?

Small questions, naturally.


Some of this you probably already know
-Pew’s past reports are awesome
-ForeSee Results puts out some pretty good regular reports on citizen satisfaction w/ gov’t on the web

-An oldie but goodie from Jeffrey about social media in govt – http://levyj413.wordpress.com/2009/06/08/mission-tool-metrics-teach/

What I’d love to hear on discussions like this is everybody uses the same example all the time – Iran/Twitter, Ushahidi and ends up exaggerating on either side (its awesome or useless)….would be good to give a more nuanced viewpoint.

Angelo Serra

I would think the the important thing to keep in mind is how “sticky” that some of the online efforts are. Some organizations have set up Facebook pages that are abandoned almost immediately while others such as Rhode Island and Montgomery county in MD use it as a newer-styled bulletin board, yet others have really leveraged it well. What other Web 2.0 tools are being utilized like this, what makes one implementation better than others?


I like Angelo’s comment in the sense – What does it take to truly be a catalyst? How to make it sustainable?

My sense is that Internet has the power to disrupt and drive real change. But most of the real transformation change has a lot of sustance behind it (I think Obama new media campaign had 150 people? Someone may have a better stat). Often people think it’s like 3 people hanging out

Andrew Krzmarzick

As mentioned, this has to be the gold standard: http://www.pewinternet.org/

If you have a copy of Cognitive Surplus, I’ll be there’s some great research underpinning it. Interesting, short interview between Pink and Shirky: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/05/ff_pink_shirky/

How about this research out of Canada?


Check out the stuff at bottom of this page: http://www.peterlevine.ws/Internet%20work.htm