What a delight! I just returned from a couple days in Cambridge, MA… invited to participate at a Harvard workshop about innovative local uses of the internet, focusing on politics. The event was hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Sunlight Foundation. About 50 people were invited from around the country.
About half of the speakers were content providers, mostly local and state-level political bloggers. The other half were online tool developers focused on improving public access to information about state and federal legislatures. I strongly recommend checking out what I was lucky enough to see. Some of the participants have kindly blogged and wiki-ed about it already… David Weinberger, Ethan Zuckerman, David Gillmor, Campaigns Wikia… and others, I’m sure. Try Technorati (photos too).
On the one hand we had bloggers generating great content about fairly narrow topics. On the other were people developing incredible tools for drilling into all sort of data and stories about what’s really going on behind the scenes in Congress and the statehouses. Most of the folks in both these camps shared one challenge… engaging a wide-enough audience.
So Front Porch Forum was met with curiosity and interest. We’re building surprisingly high participation numbers when viewed from a geographical per capita perspective. Lots of great questions and leads. I need to explore more of what was on display. More later, perhaps.
Thanks to Berkman and Sunlight for bringing me to this wonderful event, and to all my colleagues for sharing their projects and insights. A hopeful way to spend the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. By the way, snow in Vermont kept me in Cambridge/Somerville an extra night… a local cousin came to my rescue!