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…)