Friday, June 27, 2008

Information, Communities, Democracy... New Knight Commission

Greetings all. I had the pleasure of address the kick off meeting of a new blue ribbon commission in Washington, DC this week with a similar charge as this blog is covering...

Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy
“The charge of the Commission is straightforward,” says Alberto Ibarg├╝en, president and CEO of Knight Foundation. “Articulate the information needs of communities in this democracy; determine where we are today; and propose public policy that will encourage market solutions.”

The Commission was keen to learn about our experiences operating Front Porch Forum in Chittenden County. The full Commission is listed here. And…

The Commission will be led by co-chairs Ted Olson, former Solicitor General of the United States, and Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Product and User Experience at Google. Peter Shane, a distinguished law professor at Ohio State University Law School, is the executive director.

The Knight Commission is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and organized by the Aspen Institute.


Glenn McRae said...

Michael -
I would be interested in more information on the Knight Commission discussions. There seems to be a sense that more "information" somehow equates to more democracy and participation. I would posit that this in fact is not true. Information is not about making connections, much information is not useful. I think a better title for the commission might be "Trust, communities and democracy." Community Trust seems to be the highest value that is gained from opportunties to connect and has all sort of ramifications, including most probably more democracy. The last issue of Utne Reader []
had a good series of articles on connections including the article linked to above, "Tear down the white picket fence," with a warning about communities becoming too homogeneous as dangerous for community and democracy.
Another project to look at that is making inroads connecting communities through celebrating diversity is The Milestones Project run by a colleage of mine, Richard Steckel.

Glenn McRae

Karyn Vogel said...

Michael, thank you for posting this. It looks like it was a very engaging day.

Glenn, I couldn't agree more that we need to pay attention to the diversity of communities, online and otherwise. I watched some of the Knight Commission panel and noticed that Michael addressed this point when he talked about some of the unlikely connections that have been made on Front Porch Forum. He said that neighbors who had avoided each other because they noticed little things about each other (like political bumper stickers from the "other" party) ended up becoming friends. Front Porch Forum had provided an opportunity for neighbors to get beyond those snap judgments. We know that intentionally diverse face-to-face community dialogue can accomplish something similar.

For me, diversity is a primary concern as we move forward with the e-state work. And I will be interested to see what conclusions and recommendations are generated by the Knight Commission.