Knight Blog

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

Using tech to transform democracy

Oct. 2, 2012, 9:52 a.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

READ THE REPORT

DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP REPORT

Today, we’re excited to share a new report and a new set of investments - both centered on how technology can help communities shape their own futures.

First, as part of Knight’s Tech for Engagement Initiative, we’re announcing $1.3 million in support for four projects that are helping to empower people and communities. They are:

  • Good360.org: The nonprofit seeks to build a stronger community by connecting corporate donors with nonprofits. With Knight funding, nonprofits users will be able to create “wish lists,” seek financial support from their social networks, and share impact stories with corporate and individual donors, alike.

Also, a new Knight report released today, Digital Citizenship, takes a snapshot of this emerging tech for engagement field, explores some early successes and road blocks and offers recommendations for the future. It also outlines the steps Knight Foundation is taking to help deliver on the promise that technology can transform our democracy.

“In big and small ways, we see the potential for reinventing citizens’ relationships with their neighbors, leaders and governments, as a way to build the informed and engaged communities where we all want to live,” Knight’s Damian Thorman writes in the report.

Yet while there have been early successes, Thorman said, “we are nowhere close to realizing the full potential of technology for engagement. Many projects have a limited impact and uncertain duration. Others make government more efficient, yet not more effective at building community and drawing in residents as part of the solution.

“In fact, we will only begin to realize technology’s potential when we use this kind of engagement to not just fix potholes, as useful as that is, but to bring people together to tackle the major social problems and issues of our times.”

Thorman is at the Code for America Summit in San Francisco today, to talk about the findings. The organization just announced its 2013 partners, including Summit County which includes Akron, Ohio.

The report, written by author Charles Tsai, emerged from a June summit organized by Knight, MIT and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Read more at knightfoundation.org/digitalcitizenship.