How Do We Define A Digital Citizen?

Post Highlights

  • Google supporting A Platform for Good
  • How do we define a digital citizen?
  • The importance of the Athenian Oath and citizenship

In a recent Google Public Policy Blog, Let’s Stand on a Platform for Good, Google announced they are sponsoring, A Platform for Good. The post states:

At Google, we believe in the incredible potential for harnessing technology and the compassion of the human spirit to do good, to learn, and to help each other grow. We have seen inspiring examples of this with the extraordinary projects from the
Google Science Fair and on YouTube with the It Gets Better Project. In step with our commitment to expand and promote digital citizenship, Google is a proud sponsor of a new initiative — A Platform for Good.

A Platform for Good is part of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) initiative. Google states “The platform is an interactive online portal that empowers parents, teachers, teens and kids to connect and share knowledge about being responsible digital citizens.”

With this kind of initiative, what makes a digital citizen? What does modern day citizenship look like? In theory, how do we encourage more people to develop as a “digital citizen” – and at a basic level, should we? These are all challenging and thought provoking questions, we can begin to explore answers by looking at the way the Athenians viewed citizenship. The Athenian Oath is one of my favorite examples of what it means to be a citizen:

We will never bring disgrace on this our City by an act of dishonesty or cowardice.

We will fight for the ideals and Sacred Things of the City both alone and with many.

We will revere and obey the City’s laws, and will do our best to incite a like reverence and respect in those above us who are prone to annul them or set them at naught.

We will strive increasingly to quicken the public’s sense of civic duty.

Thus in all these ways we will transmit this City, not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.

To me, the emphasis to “transmit this city not less, but greater, than it was transmitted to us,” is an essential part of citizenship. As citizens, we do this in different ways. We become informed voters, community activist, organize around common interests, serve the public good, participate in online activities, there are countless ways we exhibit our rights as citizens.

How we exhibit our rights as citizens has always been evolving, and technology is just another stage in the evolution of citizenship. With programs like A Platform for Good, citizenship is encourage to continue to evolve digitally, to encourage sharing knowledge, sharing resources and working towards improving the public good.

Google is a public and profitable company focused on search services. It’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Check out their Google for Gov group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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