Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Information + Communication + Civic Engagement = ??

Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2008 by No comments yet

Keith Harris in the United Kingdom writes today that “What’s missing is communication, not information” on his blog Neighbourhoods.  Some of his points…

This is very definitely work in progress but maybe the argument is something like this:

  • for various reasons there is a crisis of local social connections which causes evident damage
  • examples of local communication (post-its on windscreens, notes on lamp-posts, message graffiti and so on) point to the inadequacies of existing communication channels, especially in contexts of high mobility and the erosion of local life
  • online networks can augment (not replace) other channels of communication and stimulate more interaction (I never understood why this should ever have been in doubt)
  • we need to find out what research has been done and where the gaps are, showcase good practice and clarify the lessons. This will help the system-builders, and then
  • we have to go to to the housing movement and local government with incontestible arguments that this stuff works and should be developed. Might that do it?

This reminds me of some of the conversation that the Knight Foundation has been sparking through its various efforts.  Knight is pushing easily accessible information at the local level as a needed element to sustain our democracy in the United States.  Hear, hear!  But others, including me, have pushed to have civic engagement be part of that mission as well.  And here’s Keith telling us that communication trumps information.

I think we need all three to feed our democracy… an engaged citizenry that can communicate with each other and develop, access and share information.  I’m thrilled that Front Porch Forum is on the cutting edge of all this.

Posted in: Case Foundation, Citizen Journalism, Community Building, Democracy, Front Porch Forum, Good Government, Knight Foundation, Local Online, MacArthur Fellows, Neighborhood, social capital, Social Networking

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