Creating Citizen 2.0
How to engage citizens?
How do we cultivate “civic-mindedness?”
What does accountability really mean? What do you people want?
How do officials move forward and differentiate spam from real email?
How do we make citizen engagement habitual?
Noise vs. Signal
Make people feel important
Making meaningful motivation
Important to remember that each member of congress is basically their own small business.
A significant portion of the population is still not computer literate.
Is government getting a representative cross section of America? Should the goal be to engage everyone or focus on those who are already engaged online?
Sometimes it takes monumental external events like 9/11 to get people interested and involved.
People also dont get engaged sometimes do to thinking they can’t make a difference.
The big event drives online action. For instance, this week, Rep. Joe Wilson. Advocacy groups are the ones best at capitalizing on these moments at this point.
Perhaps efforts are best spent focusing on the 20% engaged as opposed to attempting to engage the 80% not engaged.
Big events trigger engagement, but usually only last a few days.
Getting and using the Long Tail.
What’s the biggest challenge?
-getting people to know how to contribute? Maybe Congressional offices should direct questions to constituents? The key is to have the constituents set the debate and become engaged.
Tools can be built to engage constituent blogs with congressional offices.
Excellent example: Sen. Claire McCaskill, “I’m online and I want to hear from you.”
What is the goal of members of congress for online interaction? Members likely prefer quality over quantity.
Mayor of Newark Cory Booker on twitter. Communicates on twitter with constituents and sends out motivational tweets. Comes across as genuine and very well engages constituents. Twitter allows him to reengage with constituents himself and not through staff.
Is the goal having the conversation or influencing the policy? Both it engages influences and creates a relationship through trust and familiarity.
Whose voices are actually heard by elected officials on twitter?
Is twitter’s structure helpful or detrimental? Is it dangerous to manage by twitter for elected official? What are possible consequences?
People are going to engage when they are fired up. How do engage people at this point and have it be constructive.
How do you structure the input coming in so everyone is heard and it can be used as opposed to hearing the same people over and over again?
Are people not engaged because they don’t know how to?
Americans tend to only be interested in things that directly affect us. Young people don’t pay a lot of attention to Social Security issues.
When do Congressmen want to hear from constituents during the legislative process? Answer from staffer: There are many opportunities for constituents to contact the Member and timing does matter.
3 Summary points:
-Elected officials should be proactive in soliciting constituents’ opinions
-Citizens should be also be proactive in contacting elected officials
-The structure of the debate is very important to the debate.