New Media and Civic Engagement

“The Internet and Civic Engagement”: In the fall of 2009, the Pew Internet and American Life Project released the findings of their research on how – or if – the internet was changing the shape of political involvement. Working with data collected in 2008, they found that the internet had not yet changed the patterns of what economic groups participate in political activity. Online as offline, people with higher incomes reported more political engagement. The report details the types of political activity people engaged in online, and confirms the expectation that internet politics is dominated by younger users. View the full report here.

Mobile media and public affairs: The Aspen Institute has examined how mobile technology – all of the connections we can now make through our cell phones – is creating new ways for people to get involved in their communities. Their report, Civic Engagement on the Move, “looks at how leading edge practitioners are using mobile media to engage citizens to solve problems, bridge differences and strengthen community.”

Visible Vote: A new application called Visible Vote is available for use through Facebook, iPhones and Blackberrys, and has a Windows version in the works. It allows users to tell their federal elected representatives how they would vote on bills that Congress is considering, and to indicate general approval ratings. Perhaps most interesting, it provides links to every bill that has been proposed, including summaries from the Library of Congress, links to news coverage about the bill, and the entire text of the legislation. In an era when attention spans are shorter and shorter, and opinions formed and expressed with little information, this application may not become the most popular, but seems like a valuable resource for people interested in more serious political engagement. See more about this application at VisibleVote.us.