May 31, 2012

Exploring how to strengthen tools to engage citizens

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Gathering at MIT seeks to inspire & enable community action

JD LasicaIt’s been a crazy month of travel, with my giving talks at the Women’s funding Network Summit and the California State PTA convention in LA, a Google conference on Internet freedom in D.C., and now I’m in Boston for the next two days participating in an important gathering at the MIT Media Lab put together by the Knight Foundation.

Called the Tech for Engagement Summit, the invitation-only gathering brings together 70 leaders and innovators in new technologies for a collaborative working session. The overall goal, we’ve been told, is to explore and to buttress technologies that can be used “to inspire and facilitate on-the-ground action” at the community level. That requires strengthening the network of practitioners working in the space, reviewing the state of tech for engagement and coming up with opportunities to collaborate and work together in the months ahead.

In 2008 I wrote a 110-page book for the Aspen Institute on Civic Engagement on the Move: How mobile media can serve the public good (free download). And I’ve been involved with the Knight Foundation for years (and was among the first round of winners for the Knight News Challenge), so I admire convenings such as this that cut across sectors (business, social enterprise, government, nonprofit, academia) to get us to some common solutions to lift up our communities and make sure we have a strong foundation for citizen engagement at the local level.

An all-star cast of participants

Knight has pulled together an impressive list of participants, including:

  • Susan Crawford, Visiting Stanton Professor of the First Amendment, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Scott Geller, CTO and President, Points of Light Digital
  • Urs Gasser, Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
  • Marci Harris, CEO of POPVOX (whom I recently interviewed)
  • Joichi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab
  • Nancy Lublin, CEO + Chief Old Person, DoSomething.org
  • Michael Smith, SVP of Social Innovation, The Case Foundation
  • Christopher Hoene, Director of the Center for Research and Innovation, National League of Cities
  • Jennifer Pahlka, Founder & Executive Director, Code for America
  • Max Schorr, Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer, GOOD
  • Micki Krimmel, Founder, NeighborGoods
  • Damian Thorman, National Program Director, Knight Foundation
  • Ethan Zuckerman, Director, Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab

Looking forward to connecting with everyone here. Not sure how much live-tweeting there’ll be, beginning late this afternoon and ending late Friday afternoon, but here’s the hashtag: #tech4engageJD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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