consumer + producer = conducer: It’s not just wordplay; it’s the paradigm for citizenship in America (and Earth!) 2.0:

Coming the day after U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released the National Education Technology PlanDigital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action provides four broad strategies and 10 specific recommendations on how to provide students and adults with the knowledge and critical thinking skills to sort through the overwhelming amount of digital information they receive every day in our media-saturated society.

“Full participation in contemporary culture requires not just consuming messages, but also creating and sharing them,” writes [Dr. Renee] Hobbs. “To fulfill the promise of digital citizenship, Americans must acquire multimedia communication skills and know how to use these skills to engage in the civic life of their communities.”

This is why the Commission recommended that digital and media literacy be integrated as critical elements for education at all levels through collaboration among federal, state and local education officials, and that public libraries and other community institutions be funded and supported as centers of digital and media training [Amy Garner, “Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action,” Knight Commission, 2010.11.10].

The new citizenship requires knowing not just the Constitution, but Google and Flip cameras. Teachers, get to work!


E-Gov Bulletin from the UK suggests that social networks could sweep away political parties. Dr. Ian Kearns, former Head of the e-Government Programme at the Institute for Public Policy Research, tells the House of Commons’ Parliamentary IT Committee that Web 2.0 is giving people the tools to recognize and use their power to organize and campaign.

Dr. Kearns is speaking in the British parliamentary context where third parties have a reasonable shot at making a difference. I’m not sure social networks would have as easy of a time upending one of our two dominant parties. However, his point that parties can (and must!) take advantage of the technology is proven by the Howard Dean and Barack Obama presidential campaigns. The Internet and social apps (plus a good spreadsheet) put as much organizing power in the hands of two local advocates in a back office as could have been mustered by a national campaign office a couple decades ago.

While the technology is powerful, Dr. Kearns emphasizes that the big shift is in how we use the technology, how we expect to be involved in the information process. Yes, it’s the consumer-producer-conducer paradigm shift! Politicans need to get out of “broadcast” mode and recognize that politics is much more a two-way, participatory endeavor. The new politics is all about openness and engagement. If you’re running for office, you can’t just put up a website; you have to invite your voters in to build that website—to build its content—for you.

From Jill Walker Rettberg:

Just as we would not traditionally assume that someone is literate if they can read but not write, we should not assume that someone possesses media literacy if they can consume but not express themselves.

– Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture, p 170.

Consume and produce: conduce!