Technology and the way people use it has the power to unite people or pull them apart. Ethan Zuckerman and Chand Rajendra-Nicolucci of Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University took a closer look at platforms that bring communities together on a local level, only to find that some designs work better than others.
Platforms that operate more like social media, where individuals can post whatever they want instantaneously, can lead to heated, attacking commentary, false accusations, or misinformation. This kind of content may cause civil discourse to devolve and it may disrupt the establishment of ties within a community.
On the other hand, Front Porch Forum is an example of a local platform that has systems in place to help keep conversations civil and community-minded, fulfilling its mission of helping neighbors build community. From Rajendra-Nicolucci and Zuckerman’s piece:
“That organic growth was key to maintaining one of the key differences between FPF and Nextdoor: proactive moderation. FPF uses a team of moderators that review each post to make sure it adheres to the site’s code of conduct (which bars personal attacks and behavior “counter to its community-building mission”) before it’s posted. That helps to keep the discussion friendly and constructive… We believe a platform that takes governance seriously, is designed for a specific purpose, and has ties to the communities it serves can be successful anywhere.”
The authors also share the criteria by which they evaluate various platforms. These platforms operate on a local level broken into neighborhoods, towns, or city blocks.
“Getting local social media right is important. Local platforms present an opportunity to strengthen social capital and civic life. At their best, they can keep residents informed about local issues, encourage civic organizing and action, and facilitate new connections and greater understanding.”
Read the full article on Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University’s blog here.
Additionally, “a vast majority of respondents said they had a computer and used (1) the internet, (2) email and (3) Front Porch Forum, while just over half of all respondents said they used social media.”
In town after town across Vermont we see a similar trend with seniors and local folks of all ages… the “vast majority” of people tune into their local FPF. Your neighbors are talking on FPF… join the conversation!
Did you know that nearly one-third of low-income Americans don’t have a broadband-connected computer and can only access the internet by mobile phone?
FPF is committed to making it easy for all Vermonters to participate in their local Front Porch Forum. We’re building a mobile app to make FPF even more inclusive. We need to raise $30,000 by next Tuesday to accomplish this. Please help today: https://frontporchforum.com/supporting-members
More than 160,000 Vermonters participate on their local FPF daily. With your help, even more will be able to join the conversation.
Front Porch Forum PO Box 64781 Burlington, VT 05406-4781
FPF is a Vermont business, with a staff of 18, that serves every community in the state. We are not a charity and contributions are not tax deductible. Most of our expenses are covered by ad sales to Vermont businesses, and your Supporting Member contribution helps close the gap. Thank you!
UPDATE: We surpassed our funding goal by our deadline! Thanks so much to the many FPF Supporting Members who chipped in. Stay tuned for news about the FPF mobile app launch coming soon!
A story of lost-and-found ended happily when Gary of Montpelier posted on Front Porch Forum looking for his lost car keys. A fast response from Gary’s neighbor not only led to the recovery of his car keys, but also to a face-to-face meeting with his neighbor, Jay, who he hadn’t met before.
Front Porch Forum’s co-founder, Michael Wood-Lewis, joined the Dave Gram Show on WDEV on Dec. 24, 2018to talk about how FPF serves towns across the state. Listen to Michael, Gary and Dave discuss the story and how Front Porch Forum has helped more than 160,000 households across the state of Vermont.
Michael Wood-Lewis, Front Porch Forum Tom Walsham, TWG
More than 75% of households in most Vermont towns use FrontPorchForum.com to communicate among neighbors and increase civic engagement. Operating since 2006, this locally owned social network has successfully helped neighbors connect and build community by rejecting the Silicon Valley addiction-and-surveillance business model. In this session, we will discuss the challenges of increasing impact while maintaining civility, implications of a sustainable neighbor model, and how the dynamics on FPF might inform better real-world dialogue.
Buried among several examples of people who think the answer to large-scale catastrophe is striking out on their own is the following gem…
Bruce Riordan, program director for the Climate Readiness Institute at the University of California Berkeley, cautioned that it isn’t realistic to expect to live in a bubble. “Sure, you can grow your own vegetables, but what about wheat and grains?” he said. “And what happens when you need medical attention?”
Mastering surgery would certainly be a lot harder than learning to grow tomatoes.
A better strategy, Mr. Riordan suggested, would be to find a community that is intelligently preparing for whatever climate change may bring. He equated the situation to what California has done about earthquakes: They can’t be avoided, but we can build safer buildings, get better at predicting them and establish systems to care for vulnerable populations when they occur.
This jibes with Front Porch Forum‘s experience. When disaster strikes, the most resilient communities are those full of neighbors who know each other, know what’s going on, and who have a record of helping each other and accomplishing things together.