Civic Intelligence in Activism

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The template for the basic "perspective" chapter follows this paragraph. The original template (possibly revised) is in Introduction_to_Section_II. (After the chapter is further along — and the template structure is more-or-less finalized, we can remove this extra verbiage.)

The basic Plan has four parts:

(1) A Introduction to the perspective

A few suggested questions:

  • What advantages might civic intelligence offer within this perspective?
  • Why is this perspective important?
  • Is the perspective used implicitly (or sporadically or locally or partially)?
  • Can a civic intelligence orientation help inform or otherwise the efficacy or other patterns of this perspective?

(2) One or more case studies that show different facets of this perspective. Our decision was, as much as it's possible, not to artificially separate thinking and doing. At the same time we do want to present a variety of approaches, some of which will be better suited for think-work and some will be better suited for action (that plays out in the "real" (or material?) world.

Case Study - Deliberative Applications and Networks - (or possibly, Networked Digital Economy)

Introduction - Technology facilitates Civic Engagement - Civic Intelligence

Adaptations by people to a networked digital economy is taking place. Fueled by widespread access to computers and software, the “physical capital” necessary for the creation of content is now in the hands of a great many people. This widespread access without the physical restrictions of significant capital financing affords to humans the ability to construct coordinated bodies of work either collaboratively or individually. News and the dissemination of information no longer requires the proprietary mechanisms of the industrial information complex, such as the printing presses, media stations or ownership of airways. Real time reporting of world events is now tweeted, blogged and posted on Facebook.

Political Unrest - Social Movement

American U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice speaking on the subject of liberation in Egypt at Twitter headquarters stated “The power of this technology, the power of social networking to channel and champion public sentiment, has been more evident in the past few weeks than ever before” (Rice, 2011). Open and free discussion of real time world events facilitated by non-market mechanisms acting in both individual and collaborative efforts have produced coordinated actions and social revolution. Social networking is not the only democratic lever and by no means should it be awarded the architect of Egyptian liberation. However the numbers posted by The American University in Cairo speak to the potential impact.

  • Egypt gained 632,120 new Facebook users from January-February, 2011 an increase of 12.16%
  • On February 1 (the day the Internet was turned back on) Egypt gained 100,000 new Facebook users
  • Globally there were 1,317,233 Egypt-elated Tweets between January 24-30

A cursory review of the data indicates that people enjoy interaction, collaboration and the connectedness of social networking applications such as Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, people see this medium as a means to coordinate informed views in opposition to political policies. Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook so college students could stay connected. Today citizens from different countries and diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds are leveraging this technology as a means to implement social change. UN Ambassador Rice states “We need to now see a process in which all elements of the opposition are able to negotiate with the government on a constitutional and responsible path that will lead to free and fair democratic elections.” 632,000 new Facebook users in Egypt over the course of 60 days marked a 12% increase. Whether this impacted the revolution process or was a result of it, is difficult to say, but the temporal relation between the two events cannot be coincidental nor overlooked. References: House, G. (2011). e-Liberate, Non-Proprietary Civic Collaboration

Case Study - Wolf conservation (Wolf Haven International)

Activism and social change can occur in many different forms and in many different arenas. For instance, activism towards the conservation of a threatened species can provide significant social change. The continued fight for wolf conservation is a prime example. Looking at how some of the organizations that deal with wolf conservation can provide a unique glimpse at civic intelligence at work.

Organizations and groups that exhibit civic intelligence are normally those that center around making things better for humankind in different ways. There are a large number that work for the environment and the planet we live on. By saving are environment we save our very existence and future. Wolf Haven International does this by trying to save one of the keystone species in the web of life. Understanding that we are connected with all lifeforms, including those we've feared, will go a long way towards saving our environment. When the top predator in the wild was removed, the effects on the balance of nature were significant and devastating. Since the reintroduction of the wolf into some of it's natural habitat, that balance has slowly come back.

Unfortunately, the fears and paranoia of a select few are once again moving forward to derail the progress that's been made. The recent de-listing of the Rocky Mountain Gray wolf could set in motion the near eradication that occurred in the 19th and 20th century's. By using aspects of civic intelligence, such as deliberation, communication and collaboration, Wolf Haven International continues to work hard to try and educate as many people as possible on the need for the gray wolf to provide the balance in nature and a better future for all of humankind.

References: Bristow, D. (2011) Wolf Haven International: Wolf Conservation

(3) Conclusions

(4) Finally, a section that includes text book like end-of-chapter exercises, questions for the student, suggested activities, etc.