Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Social Media and Civic Engagement

 My #clmooc friend, Kevin Hodgson, posted a thoughtful article titled "Where Social Media Tumbles into Civic Engagement" in which he discussed an article by Clive Thompson, in Wired magazine, entitled The Social Medium is the Message.”

I added this to a page on Hackpad where I've been aggregating links to articles pointing out the danger and emotional stability of the new President of the United States, #45.  Social and mainstream media had a great impact on the November 2016 election results, and it's uncertain where the trends will lead the US and the world in future years.

What I want to focus on are two things.

1) Writers like Kevin are trying to make sense of what's happening in the world. Kevin's a middle school teacher in Western Massachusetts, and if you read past articles on his blog, you'll see that he's constantly connecting his students to a digital world. He's connected to many other educators, trying to learn from them, and trying to help them learn from each other. Volunteers and leaders of tutor/mentor programs could draw many ideas from his blog, and his network.

2) How can we connect more people to each other via blogs like Kevin's, and hopefully mine, who represent different talents, skills and networks, and who might use what they learn from each other to solve some of the problems we face locally and globally. The political systems we have are just one part of a much more complex network of problems.

The concept map at the right is a visualization of the graphic at the top of this article. In both I'm focusing on "who" needs to be talking to each other, via social media, blogs, face-to-face events, etc. so there is an optimal mix of talent and communities interacting.   The concept map at the right shows "networks" like faith groups, business, hospitals, universities, government, philanthropy, etc.

I'm not just trying to motivate people to read and reflect. I'm trying to motivate on-going investments of time, talent and dollars to support the growth of youth serving organizations that help kids move through school and into jobs.

"Talking" means "reading" and "reflecting", not just "verbal interaction" or typing and sending your own thoughts into the on-line universe. 

When we say "It takes a village to raise a child" each of these networks represent portions of the village who need to be devoting time, talent, ideas, and resources on an on-going basis to solving the problem. They need to be interacting with each other to figure roles to take and places to provide their support.

The graphic at the top of the page is actually an interpretation of the graphic below, done by one of the interns from South Korea, via IIT, who have worked with me since 2007.  The two figures in the center of the graphic represent people like Kevin, who posted an article, and like myself, who share the article in an effort to reach a wide range of people and draw them to Kevin, to Clive Thompson, and to a deep well of other articles and ideas.
I spent much of yesterday watching the 20th Year Celebration of the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, held in New York City and hosted by America's  Promise.  You can watch the videos and get more information at this link.  As I watched, I engaged on Twitter with others who were also watching, using hashtag #recommit2kids.  If you do a search for that you'll see a day-long stream of Tweets, inducing mine.

Last evening I attended the 250th weekly meeting of the ChiHackNight group, which is described as, Chicago's weekly event to build, share & learn about civic tech.  I used #chihacknight hashtag to share this event to my social network, and used the group's Slack channel, to share the #recommit2kids event with this network of technologists.

I shared some of my graphics, including the one above, in the #recommit2kids thread, in an effort to engage with others who are also concerned with the well-being of youth, with the hope that I could connect and be part of the thinking and planning of thousands of others, to influence on-going actions that draw needed talent and resources to youth serving organizations in every high poverty area of Chicago and the rest of the US and the world. Click this link and see many images I've shared on Twitter in the past.

Yet, while much is being broadcast out to the world, we don't know who is actually looking at what we're sharing, or if the mix of people who need to be connecting are actually in the conversation.  

I gained about 25 new followers yesterday, but not all were from #recommit2kids or #chihacknight.  That's a small percent of the total number who were Tweeting yesterday.   

I used this graphic on this page and in this ppt presentation.  I'm not only interested in connecting a network of people and organizations who will use time, talent and dollars and the ideas we each share, to change the future for kids born or living in high poverty, but am interested in how we keep people engaged, and grow the network over a period of years.

 And when I write "In the conversation",  I mean they are following blogs by people like Kevin and are reading the articles, digging into the links to read what he's reading, and then posting their own articles, like I am, to respond to his article, and to try to engage others in efforts that create a more just, equitable, safe and sustainable world for everyone.

Kevin's blog is just one that I follow.  I host a list of blogs on this section of the Tutor/Mentor Library, and have begun creating a list on Inoreader, inspired by another #clmooc member, Terry Elliott. You can click here to see #clmooc network blogs that I'm following, including Kevin and Terry.

So, if you've read this far, thank you.

How do we get from "here" to "there"?
I'm concerned with how social media is being used and the negative impact it can have. However, I'm also interested in its positive potential for connecting people who care about the same issue, and who can be the "small group of thoughtful people who change the world"... for good, not evil, purposes.

Finally, I'm interested in connecting with data-science and visualization talent, such as people who attend ChiHackNight,  who will create tools, like NodeXL, which I describe here, that can be easily used to map participation in events and conversations, so we can do the analysis of "who's here, and who still needs to be engaged".  

If we're not doing that we can create a tsunami of participation in on-line conversations and still not influence the changes that make life better for all.

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