The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Aug 01, 2011

How will networks impact community and democracy in the digital age?

Posted by Andries Vaisman

Photo: Jon Diamond (ArtistDirect), Michael Eisner (former Disney CEO), Lynda Resnick (POM, Fiji Water), Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post), Charles Firestone (Aspen Institute) at FOCAS 2010

How are new technologies affecting communities and the way we participate in and govern a democracy in the 21st century? That’s the topic of FOCAS, a forum taking place this week in Colorado as part of the Aspen Institute’s Communications and Society Program and supported by Knight Foundation.

By concentrating on networks and citizenship, this year’s Forum on Communications and Society (FOCAS) will explore how citizens will access and engage with civic information in the era of connectivity. Questions about the different roles individuals play as “citizens” and “users” in their off- and online worlds will guide insights as to how democracy may shift in the coming years.

Watch the livestreamed sessions Tuesday through Thursday here. The agenda is here.

At 8:45 a.m. MST (10:45 EDT) Tuesday morning, Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen will speak about how new tools and civic action will intersect in the digital age. It’s a topic important to Knight Foundation, whose Technology for Engagement Initiative supports ideas that use digital tools to help people rally civic action in their communities.

The forum also reflects a Knight report produced earlier this year in partnership with the Monitor InstituteConnected Citizens explores how both on and offline social networks affect the way people push for social change. The report draws from more than 70 rich examples of how networks are being used to build better and more engaged communities, and looks ahead to 2015 envisioning three scenarios of how society may change as a result of the evolving way people connect to information and each other.

To watch the full three days of FOCAS live, visit  

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