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Interpreting the Development of Twitter

Hong Kong.
We're starting the last day of The Internet Turning 40 with the session that I'm in as well - but the first speaker is José van Dijck, who introduces the idea of 'interpretive flexibility' - an approach for examining technologies that remain in flux. Why and how do technologies become dominant over time; how can we trace this process while it is happening; and why is it important to do so? She is applying this specifically to Twitter (and microblogging in general) here.

There are four factors here: technologies and services, mediated social practices, cultural form and content, and business models. All of these are important when examining emerging platforms, of course. Microblogging, José says, is both a tool and a service - and its versatility is crucial to its success. When it was launched, it was unclear what it would become; by 2007, it was adopted and integrated by a large number of other social media platform, and in the process adapted its interface and technological specificities to their needs (but this took place the other way around, too). Since then, there has been an 'appliancisation' of Twitter, turning it into a closed, applied platform, and reducing its versatility and openness.

The Drive towards Journalism 2.0

Hong Kong.
The final speaker in this session at The Internet Turning 40 is Alice Lee, who continues the focus on online news. She says that online news sites in a Web 2.0 operate like a digital marketplace where people get together and exchange news, and explores how Web 2.0 has affected these sites. The format of online media is particularly important, in other words - the breaking of previously existing boundaries which has occurred with Web 2.0 has upset the previous equilibrium and led to significant changes.

g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government

Krems.
My own presentation (of a paper co-authored with my colleague Adam Swift) was up next at EDEM 2010, and I've already posted up the slides and full paper - audio to follow some time soon, hopefully! now added as well. Bit rushed, but I hope it made sense...

Beware the Goverati: e-Democracy Processes in the Post-Industrial Age

Krems.
The second keynote speaker at EDEM 2010 is Ismail Peña-López, who begins from an economic perspective: he notes that in the orthodox view, the basic structure of the production system is that inputs (resources) are acted upon by labour and capital in the production process, generating outputs (products). Democratic processes are traditionally based and built upon this production process, too - scarcity of resources, transaction costs, and processes of intermediation are its fundamental delimiting elements,which democracy attempts to coordinate.

Towards Real Citizen Participation in e-Democracy

Krems.
I've now arrived at the 2010 Conference on e-Democracy (EDEM 2010) in Krems, Austria. I'll present my paper on the g4c2c concept with Adam Swift later this afternoon, but we start today with a keynote by Andy Williamson. He begins by pointing to the relative youth of e-democracy projects, and says that there's a lot to learn from the interesting failures of many such projects to date. Indeed, there's a problem with the academic language of many of these projects (democracy is a disputable enough term as it is - sticking 'e' in front only makes it worse).

More Travel Coming Up: EDEM 2010

In a few days' time, I'll head off to Europe again, to present at this year's Conference on e-Democracy (EDEM 2010). I really enjoyed the 2009 edition (see the coverage in this blog), and it's hard to believe a whole year has passed already - probably because it hasn't: EDEM 2009 was held in September...

Still, that's not stopped us from developing some new ideas on how to further the 'government 2.0' push which aims to utilise Web 2.0 technologies, social media models, and produsage processes in order to create better engagement and participation between governments and citizens. This year, I'm building on my observations with Jason Wilson about top-down and bottom-up forms of engagement, presented at EDEM 2009, to suggest (in a paper co-authored with Adam Swift) that neither the common government-to-citizen (g2c) nor citizen-to-citizen (c2c) initiatives in the government 2.0 space quite manage to find the right balance, and that we may need to explore the possibility for new, hybrid models in between these poles: we outline what we've called a g4c2c model in which government provides explicit support for, and gets involved in, citizen-to-citizen activities.

g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government (EDEM 2010)

EDEM 2010

g4c2c: Enabling Citizen Engagement at Arms' Length from Government

Axel Bruns and Adam Swift

  • 6 May 2010 - 2010 Conference on Electronic Democracy, Krems, Austria

The recognition that Web 2.0 applications and social media sites will strengthen and improve interaction between governments and citizens has resulted in a global push into new e-democracy or Government 2.0 spaces. These typically follow government-to-citizen (g2c) or citizen-to-citizen (c2c) models, but both these approaches are problematic: g2c is often concerned more with service delivery to citizens as clients, or exists to make a show of 'listening to the public' rather than to genuinely source citizen ideas for government policy, while c2c often takes place without direct government participation and therefore cannot ensure that the outcomes of citizen deliberations are accepted into the government policy-making process. Building on recent examples of Australian Government 2.0 initiatives, we suggest a new approach based on government support for citizen-to-citizen engagement, or g4c2c, as a workable compromise, and suggest that public service broadcasters should play a key role in facilitating this model of citizen engagement.

Flying Visit to Perth and Adelaide

There's a fair amount of travelling coming up for me over the next few months - and as always, where I'm attending conferences I'll endeavour to cover them on snurb.info (though a good part of my travels in May is for personal reasons, so don't expect too much - a few tweets here and there, perhaps).

First, though, I'm off to Perth and Adelaide next week to speak at the State Libraries of Western Australia (on 28 April) and South Australia (on 30 April) . In a talk I'm calling "Outreach and Co-Curation: Engaging with Library Users", I'll explore how libraries and librarians may use social media to connect and collaborate with library users - this updates my keynote at the ARLIS conference a couple of years ago and also builds on the social media reports I've written for the Smart Services CRC. Ultimately, what this points to is the significant potential for librarians and library users to engage in a shared practice of co-curating information and knowledge: importing and adapting produsage approaches into library practice, and in the process perhaps opening up new user communities for our libraries. I've already posted the Powerpoint here - and all going well, I'll add the audio from the presentation later on as well. UPDATE: The audio from the SLSA talk is now online as well. Thanks again to the SLSA and SLWA folks for organising the event!

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