Those darn bloggers, making the news environment better. I don’t have the full paper handy, but I can link to Serena Carpenter’s abstract:

The presence of a diversity of information offers citizens access to a range of ideas, expertise and topics. In this study, a measure of content diversity was created to determine whether online citizen journalism and online newspaper publications were serving this function in the USA. Based on the findings from a quantitative content analysis (n = 962), online citizen journalism articles were more likely to feature a greater diversity of topics, information from outside sources and multimedia and interactive features. The findings suggest online citizen journalism content adds to the diversity of information available in the marketplace.

Serena Carpenter, “A Study of Content Diversity in Online Citizen Journalism and Online Newspaper Articles,” New Media & Society, published online February 9, 2010.

Keep on blogging!

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…of course it does!

Almost every city (and every other governmental entity, from local sewer district on up to Congress and the U.N.) can benefit from a Web 2.0 makeover. Russell Nichols at GovTech.com highlights Code for America, a new effort backed by Web 2.0 progenitor Tim O’Reilly to help local governments use the Web to “improve transparency, efficiency and citizen participation.”

Transparency, efficiency, and citizen participation–who doesn’t want more of that?

A couple things catch my attention about Code for America. First, CFA sees its mission as more than simply making more government data available to citizens. They recognize that online government tools are just about G2C; they also need to be C2G. In other words, CFA recognizes that government isn’t something done to us; government is something we all do. Citizens aren’t just consumers of government data; we are producers of data that we can use to improve our communities.

Also warming the cockles of my Web 2.0 heart is Code for America’s recognition of the importance of context, of place. CFA won’t just throw programmers in a room and ask them to make widgets. According to Nichols, CFA’s Web teams will spend a month living in their client cities. They’ll get to know their cities, the citizens their widgets will serve, and the problems those widgets will address. When it comes to local government, the World Wide Web needs to feel like a part of the neighborhood.

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!

McBurney, Peter, and Parsons, Simon. (2001). Intelligent systems to support deliberative democracy in environmental regulation. Information & Communications Technology Law, 10(1), 79-89.

Ugh! Abstract only, no full text! Get it!

Among normative models for democracy, the Deliberative Model suggests that public policy decisions should be made only following rational, public deliberation of alternative courses of action. This article argues that such a model is particularly appropriate for the assessment of environmental and health risks of new substances and technologies, and for the development of appropriate regulatory responses. To give operational effect to these ideas, a dialectical argumentation formalism for an intelligent system within which deliberative debates about risk and regulation can be conducted is proposed. The formalism draws on various philosophies of argumentation, scientific and moral discourse, and communicative action, due to Toulmin, Pera, Alexy and Habermas. (!!!)

Keating, Michael (1995). “Size, Efficiency, and Democracy: Consolidation, Fragmentation, and Public Choice.” In David Judge, Gerry Stoker, and Harold Wolman (Eds.). Theories of Urban Politics. [location?]:Sage Publications, 117-134.

  • technocratic, “service-delivery” perspective frequent in 1960s and 1970s, too, “leaving democratic participation as an afterthought” (128)

Ryan, Neal 2001 Reconstructing Citizens as Consumers: Implications for New Modes of Governance Australian Journal of Public Administration 60:3 104-109

Nail on the head: the market model of citizens as consumers is bad. Great advocate for CLDS.

  • 1980s-1990s: emphasis on improving service by creating markets: privatize, make government compete
    • inadequate model for regime of partnerships and cooperation
    • inadequate there isn’t real competition for services
  • “citizen as consumer” hurts citizen-govt relationship
    • redefines relationship as “passive commercial transaction rather than an interactive political engagement” (105)
    • emphasizes “sovereignty of the individual over the public good” (105)
    • market mindset breaks down if market forces (competition, consumer knowledge, etc.) don’t apply
    • oversimplifies relationship: often not voluntary; not simple reciprocation of services for taxes/payment; ignores mutual commitment” (107)
  • Implications
    • “public confidence in government is likely to be higher in circumstances in which there are high levels of participations, engagement and knowledge” (107)
    • surveys great, do more, but don’t allow them to replace real political engagement: ranking preferences on a filtered list of choices created by a pollster still isn’t as good as taking the floor and presenting your own original idea
    • “focus on individual satsifaction diminishes the contribution of public services to building the social capital that may result from a focus on collective relationships” (107)
    • “the language of producers and consumers contributes to notions of elitist government”!!! (107) contributes to impression of govt as “high value producers of services” filled with experts whom the rest of us mere mortals have to sit back and trust and not presume to bother with our humble opinions