This class has been a terrific journey that began with the 1948 presidential election and has ended with the possibility of creating a new political landscape.

Here are some of the things I learned in this class.

·         Citizen journalism is balancing the perception people have of politicians. In the past, the media reported what they wanted the audience to believe. However, today, citizens are armed with words and images just like the media and are putting forth their perception of the information gathered.

 

 

The beauty of citizen journalist is they are connected to the community. Tocci (as cited in Sosnik, Dowd, & Fournier) said that tech-driven citizens journalists . . . are active members of a community, personally invested in how their virtual neighborhood is affected by a corporation or its products” (p. 176). In this case, of course, the corporation is the politician. Citizen journalists are real people freely sharing their ideas and are not worried about generating revenue.

·         The power of politics is in the ability to create a group of people that are passionate about creating a learning community with a common goal. Teachout & Streeter wrote, “What made the Dean campaign different was that all the trial-and-error passion was poured into the goal of winning over and exciting the base” (p. 215). There is an enthusiasm when a community learns together, and the Dean campaign was the model.

·         Citizen journalism and the strength of community will and has changed the way democracy works. Joe Trippi states, “The democratic movement I’m talking about empowers consumers as well as citizens” (p. 207). This empowerment coupled with accountability could inspire the next generation to believe and dream.

After hours of trolling through the Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) blogs, I began to think, it is true. People can organize online. However, people still need to be willing to do the hard work of being a citizen (Block, 2008). 

For example, citizens still need to sit next to child and help them learn to read. Rushkoff, in his blog Beyond Brand Obama, reminds Americans that we may want better schools and a better economy but those things do not just transpire from good legislation or a charismatic leader.

The change we want, like better communities, happen when people choose to live out these goals.  People need to come together as citizens. We cannot fallaciously believe that complacent online fans turn into citizen. Citizens are people that act it out in their communities.  Peter Block states, “Citizenship is a state of being. It is a choice for activism and care” (p. 65).  Technology is great at organizing and moving information but the true citizen is a person that takes action.

Howard Dean’s 2004 Democratic nomination campaign successfully used the Internet to empower people to become citizens. They did this by organizing people by using Meetup.com. Dean never failed to say at the end of his speech “If you want to do something, go to Meetup.com” (Tripp, 2004, p. 98).  This was so successful that in Los Angeles one of the Meetup groups attendance soared to 200 people (p. 99). The Internet was organizing, moving information, and creating a place where people could become a citizen.

On the other hand, many of the 2004 candidates made the mistake of using “static web sites with no places for people to get involved” (Tripp, 2004, p. 101). These web sites just pushed information and expected the citizens to be complacent viewers. They did not want to engage in a dialogue and that came across to citizens as a lack of respect (p. 101).  This type of campaign does not encourage citizenship. Instead, it makes people feel like their only value to this country is their vote. 

Changing America won’t come from a new leader that can use technology. It will come from a leader that can use technology to inspire people to become a citizen and not just an online fan.

References

Block, P. (2008). Community: The structure of belonging. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Rushkoff, D. (2008, June 23). Beyond brand Obama. Personal Democracy Forum techPresident. Retrieved on June 27, 2008, from http://www.techpresident.com/blog/entry/26618/beyond_brand_obama

Tripp, J. (2004). The revolution will not be televised. :New York: (more…)