From Harvard’s Social Capital Blog…
#BTV #VT – This NPR show weaves together several stories about online communities… lots of food for thought, including a segment about Front Porch Forum (for FPF’s part, go to the 5th section (Segment B) and start at the 7:00 minute mark).
New/Digital Emergent Media for Social Entrepreneurism and Nonprofits
HigherMind Mediaworks to host free July NetsquaredVermont Event
@ Quench ArtSpace in Waitsfield on Thursday, July 12 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Curious about Front Porch Forum? Yakking on YouTube? Friending on Facebook? Tweeting on Twitter? All Mad River Valley residents interested in new digital media platforms and how they can be harnessed for effective social entrepreneurism and nonprofit work are invited to a FREE public forum bringing together some of Vermont’s most forward-thinking nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs using new/digital emergent media for positive social change.
Our July 12 @Netsquared guest panelist presenters include:
• Lauren Glenn-Davitian and Eli Harrington, who spearheads CommonGoodVT, a Burlington-based organization dedicated to supporting the Vermont nonprofit community. Connect @ www.commongoodvt.org.
• Michael Wood-Lewis, the co-founder of Front Porch Forum, a free community-building service helping neighbors connect, now being used in dozens of towns around Vermont. Network @ frontporchforum.com.
• Sandy Tarburton, Membership and Communications Director for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Paddle @ www.northernforestcanoetrail.org.
• Amanda Levinson, pioneering organizer of @Netsquared in Vermont, who founded the Burlington @Netsquared chapter this past winter. Get squared @ www.netsquared.org.
Extra bonuses? Free food, drink, contemporary art, and the crowd sourced wisdom of your friends and neighbors!
Thanks to our food co-sponsor Liz Lovely Cookies of Waitsfield.
#BTV #VT – Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) just released the results of a new survey that shows that “sense of community” is highly valued by Burlington citizens. About 44% liked their neighborhood because of friendly neighbors and a strong sense of community. And 10% said that an even stronger sense of community would improve their neighborhood more.
The average respondent (588 total) uses Front Porch Forum, is an English-speaking homeowner age 30 to 60, lives with one other adult and no children, works full-time, and has an annual household income greater than $50,000.
Some other tidbits…
Q: How did you find out about your Neighborhood Planning Assembly?
38% Front Porch Forum
22% Word of mouth
Q: What do you like about your neighborhood?
52% Proximity to amenities
44% Friendly neighbors/strong sense of community
Lots of other options
Q: What would you change about your neighborhood?
13% Less traffic and speeding
10% More connection to neighbors
Lots of other options
Q: Are you subscribed to Front Porch Forum?
Q: Which (other) social media do you use?
Several others listed
Q: How did you find out about survey?
69% Front Porch Forum
10% CEDO e-newsletter
2% Bulletin board
1% Service provider
Q: Languages spoken in household?
16 other languages selected by respondents
Q: Rent or own your housing?
Q: Number of adults (18 or older) living in household?
Q: Children under 18 in household?
Q: Your age?
1% Under 18
3% 75 and over
Q: Your employment?
58% Work full-time
16% Work part-time
5% Student full-time
1% More than 1 job
1% Attending school and working
1% Stay-at-home parent
0.4% Student part-time
Q: Your annual household income?
13% Less than $20,000
12% $20,000 to $30,000
10% $30,000 to $40,000
10% $40,000 to $50,000
14% $50,000 to $65,000
9% $65,000 to $80,000
15% $80,000 to $100,000
15% More than $100,000
From the Sunday New York Times yesterday, by Sherry Turkle, author of “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other”…
We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.
At home, families sit together, texting and reading e-mail. At work executives text during board meetings. We text (and shop and go on Facebook) during classes and when we’re on dates. My students tell me about an important new skill: it involves maintaining eye contact with someone while you text someone else; it’s hard, but it can be done.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve studied technologies of mobile connection and talked to hundreds of people of all ages and circumstances about their plugged-in lives. I’ve learned that the little devices most of us carry around are so powerful that they change not only what we do, but also who we are…
Which reminds me of a favorite quote…
Sow an act, and you reap a habit.
Sow a habit, and you reap a character.
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
– Charles Reade, 19th century writer
What acts and habits are we developing now with all this mobile technology? And does it add up to changes in our individual characters and destinies?
From a comment writer on the Times op-ed…
A few weeks ago, while having breakfast in a crowded restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised to note that a family of 4 across the room was saying Grace before starting their meal. Until my daughters pointed out that Dad, Mom, Sis and Junior were bowing their heads in front of their untouched meals because each one of them was furiously tapping the phones on their laps.
Unlike many online providers, Front Porch Forum does not want to keep its members transfixed to their screens for eight, 12 or 18 hours per day. Rather, we aim for five minutes of daily news and conversation from and with nearby neighbors. We aim to help people better connect with their actual neighbors and take up conversations… not online, but on the sidewalk, grocery check-out, and school playground.
From Turkle again…
When people are alone, even for a few moments, they fidget and reach for a device. Here connection works like a symptom, not a cure, and our constant, reflexive impulse to connect shapes a new way of being.
Think of it as “I share, therefore I am.” We use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feelings as we’re having them. We used to think, “I have a feeling; I want to make a call.” Now our impulse is, “I want to have a feeling; I need to send a text.”
So, in order to feel more, and to feel more like ourselves, we connect. But in our rush to connect, we flee from solitude, our ability to be separate and gather ourselves. Lacking the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people but don’t experience them as they are. It is as though we use them, need them as spare parts to support our increasingly fragile selves.
We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely. If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be lonely.
Stephen Marche writes in The Atlantic Magazine (May 2012)…
Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.
#VT – Lots of great discussion of various online tools today at the e-Vermont workshop in Randolph. I was blown away by first-hand accounts of Moretown citizens responding to Hurricane Irene, as well as the folks of Westford self-organizing a food shelf to help neighbors in need.
Vermonters have so many digital media tools in the toolbox from which to choose. That said, I’m partial to our Front Porch Forum for many applications. Apparently Doris in Argyle, NY feels the same way (from her current posting)…
Thanks to everyone who posted or emailed info about the Pleasant Valley public hearings, which my husband will attend tonight. I was pleased to see that Front Porch Forum published the info in a timely manner.
It occurs to me that one week of following FPF has given me more positive information and ideas than several years of trying to negotiate Facebook. With Facebook I have struggled to figure out who is seeing what information and I have not gleaned much of anything from a world of “friends” except for gossip and a lot of negative interaction. So, goodbye Facebook, and hello Front Porch Forum!
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this bit about Twitter… just in fun, of course…
Update: And from Carrie in Argyle…
Doris, I agree…been thinking the same thing about getting rid of facebook. I love that the FPF news I hear is local!!! I feel so much more connected.
A laptop is what got Essex Town selectboard member Bruce Post in trouble last May, revealing a cultural/digital divide that took several weeks to work out in this bustling town of 20,000 in northern Vermont.
… he didn’t think twice when he brought his laptop to a selectboard work session and then took it into the actual meeting that followed to take more notes.
But that prompted an onlooker to question the propriety of having the laptop open during the meeting, and in a “point of order” discussion, Board Chairwoman Linda Myers ruled that using the laptop violated board rules on digital devices — though in fact the rule only applied to handheld devices.
Take a look at the comments to Andrew’s piece. He goes on…
… five members of the Burlington City Council now “live tweet” when the city council meets (fully a third of the council), says Ed Adrian, a Democrat who represents Ward I.
“I think people have been really supportive for the most part,” says Adrian, who works as an attorney with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office. With people having busy lives, tweets are a way for him to inform his constituents, most of whom can’t make it to evening meetings.
He says the biggest digital impact on city government in Burlington, though, is the use of the social media/email newsletter, Front Porch Forum.
“By far that’s the most important media tool I use,” he says…
Founded by Michael Wood-Lewis and his wife Valerie in Burlington in 2006, it now is available in more than 60 Vermont towns… and 28,000 members, says Wood-Lewis.
He has definitely seen an increase in local officials using FPF to communicate, noting there are now more than 450 members counted as local officials, and probably a lot more who don’t list their official titles. He guesses perhaps half of the forums now feature postings of meeting agendas and town announcements — sort of a virtual country store poster wall.
While services like Twitter and FPF are clearly beneficial in passing along town information, they raise some gray areas. During a vibrant discussion last mud season on FPF about rough road conditions in the town of Calais, selectboard members wondered whether to get involved in responding, and whether if they did, they were speaking for the town or themselves?
Wood-Lewis says FPF is good for distributing information and for asking questions or prompting discussion but thinks “it’s not ideal for trying to resolve challenging local issues, “ which should be done in face-to-face meetings.
I just revisited a blog post by Dan Schultz titled In Search of a Community That Takes ‘Me’ Out of Social Media. I came to it after a fan of Front Porch Forum pointed out to me why she likes FPF so much… its design puts neighborhood before individual. Many of the giants of social media these days go the opposite way… they’re all about optimizing the experience for the individual. Here’s Dan’s chart…
Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Mark Suster open his blog post today with …
What I want to answer with this post (long though it may be) is:
- Why did Web 2.0 emerge and are there any lessons to be gained about the future? [cheap accessible digital hardware]
- Why did Twitter emerge despite Facebook’s dominance? [asymmetry, real-time, curated RSS / link-sharing]
- Why did MySpace lose to Facebook & what can Twitter learn from this? [encouraging an open platform where 3rd parties can make lots of money]
- Does Facebook have a permanent dominance of the future given their 500m users? [chuckle. ask microsoft, aol/time warner & google]
- What are the big trends that will drive the next phase of social networks? [mobile, locations, layering of services, data management, portability & more]
Ghost of Midnight is an online journal about fostering community within neighborhoods, with a special focus on Front Porch Forum (FPF). My wife, Valerie, and I founded FPF in 2006... read more