This is the first of a series on Open Government and Direct Democracy.
Today I am focusing on a look at where we are as a Society with regard to creating Digital Democracies and a true participatory political environment.
There is a lot of talk on Twitter and Facebook and lots of other social networks including this one Y2G about the recent election of President Elect Barack Obama and how he so skillfully utilized the latest social networking tools in both creating and retaining followers and in mobilizing millions of people to make “micro donations” which resulted in his record breaking fundraising.
What does this mean for Open Government, Direct Democracy and other terms of the electorate being engaged with the elected?
There are websites that allow you to track legislation and contact your elected officials in a secure manner like You2Gov, and there are others focused on creating conversation between the officials and the people they work for. In 1776 when the the United States was founded in Philadelphia during a hot summer with no air conditioning, the people came together and met face to face and heard each other out. Over the past several decades as media has coalesced into a one directional broadcast model, the interactions and dialogue have been allowed to shrink dramatically. It became a one way tunnel. Now we are taking that space back, and showing the need for open dialogue between elected and electorate.
The explosion of social media in the last 5 years whether YouTube, MySpace or blogging sites like Huffington Post has brought those interactions and dialogue back into the front. We are now beginning to experience Democracy in the most direct and digital ways like it was envisioned to some extent by the founding fathers. The dialogue is front and center and the officials are listening to some extent, which will only increase as time goes on.
You can now use our site to call the President, Vice President, and your other elected officals from the site. You can blog your own thoughts on thousands, nee millions of outlets. You can organize in ways unheard of 10 years ago. You can take advantage of these tools to become a better and more informed citizen. Why are you not taking advantage of these tools? How come you just tune into your social media or your TV and watch these historic World changing events happen? The tools are there, and in our case are free, it is your turn.
Next: Part II
Why is Open Government so important?
Alan W. Silberberg