Considering we have entered election season in Canada, I think that civic engagement is more important than ever before. I recently wrote about the importance of civic engagement during the election in the post “How Government Can Make “Friends” with Citizens.” It’s important for people to vote, but they also need to make sure their vote is made in an informed way. One of the easiest ways to keep citizens informed is to create content and push it out through outlets relevant to the various audiences. One of the best things about crowdsourcing is that it allows politicians- as well as companies, charities and any other organization; to constantly gather ideas and collaborate on solutions with people. It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) end as soon as an election wraps.
Networks and Citizens
I came across a very interesting essay by Diana Scearce titled “Connected Citizens: The Power, Peril and Potential of Networks.” The essay uses examples of groups that are currently using their networks or “crowd” to their advantage to make a difference. The essay also discussed best practices and how technology can be used to impact public participation – civic engagement.
“What’s driving the growing potential for impact through citizen-to-citizen connection? A fundamental shift is under way in how people think, form groups and do their work. As open communications technologies- from blogs to wikis, tags, texts and tweets – become increasingly widespread. a network-centric stance toward leadership that favors decentralization and transparency is being engendered. At the same time, technologies for visualizing collections of relationships are making the abstract concept of networks visible and more easily understood. And the tools are only part of the story.
Throughout history, social change has been possible only through the contributions and dedication of many citizens. Today’s network-centric engagement builds on existing know-how, drawing in particular on grassroots community organizing and the open-source software movement.”
Why It Matters
As the times change, people change. There’s a whole new group of people out there with a voice, and they want to be heard. Traditional approaches to campaigning can only go so far – and may only be heard by a portion of the population. The information in the essay I mentioned above provides great insight into how companies, politicians, charities and others can harness information from their crowds to make a difference. You need to know what people are interested in and where they go to to find information in order to make sure your message is heard. At the same time, business leaders, political leaders and others need to realize how to use social tools and the Internet to engage in conversations with their citizens.
Social tools, including crowdsourcing, make it possible for citizens to voice their concerns and for their concerns to be addressed and responded to – which is very important while politicians are on the election trail.