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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Making democracy work in Wisconsin (at least)!

I have included this video from TED in several blogs - it has enjoyed some popularity!  It helped me realize two things, 1) frequently people in power do not necessarily want to listen (they have a very safe constituency) and 2) those who would like to speak are thwarted and frustrated as the TED video illustrates.  So what is the conclusion - we all have the power and responsibility to breakdown the barriers for others!

Let's start with newspapers - a collective term for print and online!  They all want you to read their material and try generally to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.  Then comes their dilemma - they have to pay wages and salaries and most are not funded by an ideological sugar daddy!  So to prove to advertisers or sponsors they want to count their audience (and perhaps censor or avoid lawsuits) and establish demographic profiles - so to speak, they want your name and address!  In doing this they have immediately created a threshold preventing involvement.  What can they do?

One suggestion which may already be in use is when you the viewer clicks something - like an advertisement, it gets counted.  What I have not seen done (widely) and would like to encourage is provide links that make it possible for me to get involved in the "issue" being reported by contacting some of those involved (not the "newspaper"), i.e., provide the email address and homepage, etc.  This may be a touchy problem but it should be perfectly reasonable  to provide "public" information about "politicians" or "public groups" or even the fact that you really cannot get access except by snail mail.  The counting in this case should help the "newspaper" deal with advertisers, lower the threshold for people to become involved and to a degree make it more difficult for those with the power to "not listen".

To those of us who Twitter, Blog, Facebook, etc., we may or may not be able to count but we too can take the same action.  Make it in every way you can think of easy for people do more than just "read" your stuff!  You can do this by sharing access to email lists, inviting people to cut/copy and paste or offer to teach/show how to do things!

Here is my most recent example - it will get better!

Walker's War on Education - Property Tax Break for Wealthy!

At the bottom of the "post" I provide an augmented list of links to Education Committee member's homepage.  I added the district and the "voting" home town for the members.  Why?  It dawned on me that this information was critical for me to know who these people really are "politically".  I just don't memorize district numbers nor have any idea of where they are in Wisconsin.  It seemed to me that "with this information lacking" we had a barrier to communication - intentional or unintentional - Dave Meslin is right!  I will be working on some more ideas to help reduce barriers!

TED: Dave Meslin: The antidote to apathy : Local a...

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