Archive for June, 2009

Political Participation Through Social Media

29. June 2009 – 11:30 by Interns at 21c

While many traditional newspaper publishing companies are loosing their clients to the internet, social websites such as Facebook or MySpace are capturing new members every second.  It appears that such websites are becoming the most effective means of distributing private or public information. 

 Indeed, citizens can express their political opinions by being supporters of different political parties or presidents on Facebook pages. As for instance, the pages of the French president Nicolas Sarkozy have 95 724 members. His pages provide access to all relevant news from the government. Members can read about the laws and re-forms that the government intends to implement, speeches that have been delivered on different occasions or official visits made by the president. By leaving positive or negative comments, people can create pressure on the decision makers to revisit certain legislation proposals or they can influence political views of other readers.

 This system permits people to identify with different political believes. There are however a few drawbacks. Some individuals do not want to join these groups on principle of discretion as their membership is visible to all. Some people think that joining a specific political group could lead to a conflict at their workplace or community.

 If we take the example of Barak Obama, who built his political campaign on the Internet by using means such as Facebook and YouTube, we can see how the new technology can directly change voters participation and election turnouts. Through internet, Obama established connection with otherwise inaccessible groups and become the most popular president in the world.

On his Facebook pages, we can find videos of his speeches, his agenda, projects he is planning to organize and various newspaper articles about his presidency. Moreover, his pages include some personal photos. This particularity made Barack Obama known as the “human” or “family” president.

 The power of social networking is even greater in France where people are known for their political activity. There are thousands of groups and blogs discussing, opposing or supporting the French laws. We take an example of one group against the Law “DARCOS” created and named after the minister of education in December 2008. The group has already 21 664 members with a total of 541 comments. Law Darcos plans to re-form the French high school diploma (Baccalaureate). Prepared in four years at present, the Minister plans to reduce this time to one year. The Facebook group represent the discontent students and the many political slaps that France has suffered this year.

 The Internet opened a new wave of political participation reaching more people than ever before.  Youngsters use groups on social networking websites to read and comment on certain laws but also to organize public gatherings and protests. This social networking trend may lead to a greater political transparency and public inclusion. As a result, one may wonder if Facebook and blogs are good ways to etablish sustainable relationship between the government and citizens. That is a question that only time can answer.

by Emmanuelle Cloarec and Charlene Bouiller

Use of Social Media – French Perspective

29. June 2009 – 11:17 by Interns at 21c

Replacing the old means of communication, internet has allowed people to stay in touch for a fraction of the cost and without any time delay. E-mail, social websites, forums, blogs and various chats facilitate an accessible and interactive conversation between individuals of any age. However, if we were to select the one champion of modern social communication, it would have to be Facebook, or at least in France…

 In France, Facebook is mainly used by the 15-25 year olds. It is a social network that helps to find lost classmates, consolidates existing friendships, helps with day to day interactions, allows exchanging photos and ideas, provides place for sharing information and allows people to organize events. In France, we consider Facebook to be the “Rende-Vouz du Soir”.  After class, we come home to our computer and chat about the passed school day and share opinions and problems or discuss our homework. 

Moreover, the boundless evolution of Facebook allows us to express what we feel by intergrading into certain groups. This helps us to distinguish ourselves from others. Facebook is a great way to eliminate the constant influence of media. It permits us to express our ideas and our personality in a more liberal way.

 As an example, we can cite a support group called “1 membre dans ce group = 1 pour la recherché contre le Sida”.  This group, created on the 17th of January 2009, is reserved for people interested in the research of AIDS. By joining this group, 1 euro is donated by the Facebook Company to the SIDA Foundation.  This group also educates people about the disease, current treatments and provides space for posting comments and reactions. This group has currently 645 607 members

 The Group “Freedom for Ingrid Betancourt” created in May 2007 brought together 22,515 members and raised a total of 1 743 comments. Along with other associations and blogs, this group has put pressure on the French government to accelerate the process of Ingrid Betancourt liberation who was retained by the FARC in Colombia for 7 years.  Thanks to the growing number of adherents, Ingrid Betancourt was freed on 2 July 2008.


by Charlene Boullier and Emmanuelle Cloarec


Michael Jackson Delays the Revolution!

28. June 2009 – 19:04 by Susie Ruston

Last week many popular news sites (CNN, BBC, techradar etc.) reporting the unexpected death of pop legend Michael Jackson caused a world-wide slow down of the Internet which caused many popular engagement channels such as Twitter to crash! 

His death generated the most tweets per second on Twitter since Barack Obama was elected president. In fact many of my friends in remote locations at festivals such as Glastonbury (UK) learned of the shocking news through SMS and Twitter on their mobiles, Blackberry’s and iPhones as cyberspace began to go into frenzy.

This event raised many fundamental issues about the capacity of the internet that is critical to participation and democracy, as well as highlighting the global difference in how countries trust official and unofficial sources of information 

For example, the “Michael Jackson outage” on the net (caused by the West accessing many ‘official’ sources of trusted information) resulted in many users who were finding the tool critical for organising protest in Iran unable to access their usual sources of ‘unofficial’ information, thereby effectively delaying demonstrations. 

Ironically, despite the mainly unsuccessful efforts of the Iranian regime to shut down participation in the form of protests by denying citizens access to technology, it was actually the West who temporarily (albeit unintentionally) succeeded in achieving this feat through its overuse.

A clash of hunger for knowledge from official sources vs. the need to organize knowledge against official sources does raise interesting contrasts and demonstrates how far new media has the ability to focus our thoughts and actions in a modern world.

Politics 2.0 - The Obama Campaign

26. June 2009 – 14:11 by Centre for E-Government

Barack Obama’s electoral campaign represents a masterpiece in online-campaigning. The use of ICTs and the creation of an Obama-brand were the key features to mobilising the masses. Obama’s opponent, senator McCain, couldn’t motivate as many people to participate in his campaign.

Barack Obama was registered on more than a dozen different social media, the main ones (Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter) included, and succeeded in forming an online community that strongly supported his goals. The online-headquarter was (MyBO) “[which] was at the heart of the campaign’s new media strategy. [… The] site allowed users to create events, exchange information, raise funds, and connect with voters in their area. MyBO was the digital home from which the campaign could mobilise its army of supporters.” [2] This portal helped creating a community with more than two million profiles. Of course, the easy-to-use website also attracted adversaries, which made community managers essential to evaluate and delete certain statements if necessary.

Citizens participate in Obama’s Campaign

The operators of MyBO established a strong sense of community as everyone with political interest could participate. In blogs, people could express themselves and report about their personal experiences during the campaign. Useful information, such as phone lists and guides for campaigning, were distributed via this internet-portal; even fund-raising-statistics of all members were included. However, the “real spirit of the community could be seen in the more than 200,000 offline events organized through MyBO.” [2]

The Obama campaign collected 13 million email addresses and sent one billion emails to mobilize its supporters. “The Obama team used email as an integral platform to engage supporters, bloggers, and online media. Often overlooked by traditional communications departments, email has one major advantage: speed.” [2] Putting email recipients into groups gave the campaign the opportunity to send individually designed messages to specific groups of people. An even faster way to communicate is SMS, which can be used to contact people without internet access, especially in rural areas.

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Mozilla’s citizen participation programme - although, it might not called in this way..

26. June 2009 – 10:03 by Civil College

The enourmous civil browser factory, Mozilla has just launced their world wide social responsible activity week call - the Mozilla Service Week! It spreads the core message of common development: “We believe the Internet should make life better. Join us the week of September 14-21, 2009, as we take action to make a difference in our communities, our world, our Web.”

Spread Firefox Affiliate Button

I think we agree with them from our job ;)

The week, which is a great initiative, just like the previously promoted OneWebDay, which has been celebrated among PepNet members.

This initiative is if we can say, more complex.

When we think about our job, our political or either personal perspective, the roles we play in this arena, might have some extra power to get from the community. From those, who are living in the neighbourhood, who are our chat-forum partners, or even just the old grandmother of our friend.

We can help. We can support the community where we belong to - anytime. Mozilla Service Week is an initiative to put focus on this issue for a week, and go and reach out for anybody around us.

I do hope, that this kind of civil activisim is suitable for all of us - and will make us to subsribe and offer voluntary activities individually.

For me the questions is also somewhere a bit below. Can we, or shall we as Pep-net do something for the larger community of citizens in an organized way during this week?

Download the badges, information here:

You can check some stories here:

by Csaba

Boosting Austria’s “e-Governability”:!

25. June 2009 – 15:03 by E-Voting.CC

Earlier I have written about the Student Union elections of May 2009 which were Austria’s first use of a legally binding electronic voting system.

The E-Voting system required the students to authenticate themselves using a citizen card. In Austria this “citizen card function” is included in the social security card, which is called e-card. The e-card was launched in March 2005 in order to modernize the old fashioned system of legitimizing the citizen’s status in front of doctors via the paper version of the “Krankenschein”.

The e-card has since then been issued 8.5 million times according to the official website. 11.151 partners accept the e-card in doctor’s practices all over Austria and it has been used 405 million times for this purpose. But the e-card is much more than a tool for more efficient social security administration. Read the rest of this entry »

e-Participation for Austrian Expatriates: Second consultation

24. June 2009 – 16:30 by E-Voting.CC

The Austrian Expatriate World Council was founded in 1952 aiming to coordinate the various existing associations of Austrian citizens living abroad. Its primary function is to represent its members in front of the Austrian federal government, public authorities, political parties and relevant departments in the economic and cultural field. It is governing body of over 170 associations and has several thousand members.

The organization has now again, as in previous years, made an effort to research its members’ needs. From the beginning of March until April 20th an anonymous online survey has been conducted to find a better understanding for these needs and to communicate them to the Austrian Foreign Ministry.

The Austrian Federal Computing Centre (BRZ) was in charge of designing, setting up and implementing the online platform. The survey consisted of ten themes related to which e-Government and e-Participation services expats want from Austria. Three of them were to be picked as a choice, an own suggestion could also be added. The answers were weighted, points were given according to the relative importance. The themes were:
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eParticipation in the service of consumer policy

24. June 2009 – 14:44 by Evika

Consumers are the key players in the European economy. According to Meglena Kuneva, EU Commissioner for Consumer Affairs. ‘There are now more than 490 million consumers in Europe and their expenditure represents over half of the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP). Consumers are essential to economic growth and job creation…’  However, EU legislation in the area of consumer protection is hardly comprehensible for many consumers and raises a multitude of questions. Questions like: ‘How is the safety of toys guaranteed?’ - ‘ Which additives are allowed in food?’ - ‘Will the European market for electricity be liberalised?’ bother Europeans more and more.

The lack of clarity and security concerning consumer rights seriously dents citizens confidence and trust to the Community legislation. eParticipation applications can be a remedy to this situation.

Project VoicE ( ) has a thematic focus, namely the EU legislative activities in the area of consumer protection. The selected focus ensures that the issues debated will have a tangible impact on everyday life of European citizens. As consumer protection issues have an imminent effect on all of us, citizens are likely to be interested in the issue. The discussion focus on five main topics:  Energy, Telecommunications, Nutrition, Toy safety and Consumer market observation.

The project VoicE establishes an Internet platform with the objective to promote the dialogue between citizens from Baden Württemberg, Germany and Valencia, Spain and policy makers from the European Parliament, the Assembly of Regions as well as from other EU institutions and regional assemblies. The portal provides a user-friendly channel for elected officials to interact directly with their constituents, and vice versa. Elected officials have the possibility to keep constituents abreast of news and upcoming events and to gauge public opinion by posting surveys and topics for deliberation. Within the platform’s sections, users are able to view topics under discussion, to access related documents, express their views accordingly and answer featured surveys. The user is able to keep track of all events related to her interests through the calendar, as well as the agendas and meeting minutes of the council’s sessions.

After one year of successful implementation the project is now extended. VoiceS project aims to build on VoicE by implementing new and innovative tools via:

·         the integration of semantics and ontologies and the resulting broad selection of new functionalities,

·         the integration of a game-based learning concept to enhance accessibility and transparency, and

·         effective marketing and promotional efforts, especially focused on social networking.

An eGovernment Survey among Austrian Municipalities

23. June 2009 – 14:13 by Centre for E-Government

In 2002 the Austrian Association of Municipalities (Österreichischer Gemeindebund) authorized the Danube University Krems, Austria with the execution of a paper and pencil survey among all Austrian municipalities. As a result, a methodology was created which ultimately led to the establishment of In 2008 the Austrian Association of Municipalities decided to repeat the survey, this time with an online questionnaire. Highest priority lay on comparability of results between 2008 and 2002 which did not permit fundamental redesigning.

In total, 30 questions were asked, some of them with sub-questions. The questions concentrated on these areas:

  • General statistical questions: number of employees and those engaged in IT management
  • ICT infrastructure: network and connection speed, available hardware, security appliances
  • Municipal web site and electronic services: What (e)Services are available?
  • Austrian eGovernment core components, such as possession and application of an eID citizen card, availability of a municipal web site under governmental domain, electronic (signable) forms, electronic delivery
  • Degree of electronic process management: Email for starting/closing an inquiry
  • The most frequent processes of the municipality throughout the year
  • General opinion towards ICT and eGovernment projects: Do eGovernment applications help to get daily work done more easily? Which projects are planned?

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Interview with Tim O´Reilly on open source software and the future of the web

23. June 2009 – 13:36 by Bengt Feil

Among those interested in the web Mr. O´Reilly does not need to be introduced. The founder of O´Reilly Media has been on the forefront of web development and an advocate of open source software since the 1980s. He may be best known among the social media crowd for his definition of the term Web 2.0 in 2005.

In the audio interview he is discussing the need and use of open source software and how its influence leads to changing business models. Most interestingly he talks about the recent development of applications and data moving into the cloud and the browser becoming the operating system. This development brings with it several problems, among which lock-in of users closed systems and their dependence on companies is one of the most pressing. Some companies may be tempted to build their business models on keeping their systems closed and monetizing on the lock-in of users. O´Reillys conclusion is that this view is short-sighted and companies have to be open-minded and supportive of open standards for data exchange to be successful in the long term.

I would highly recommend listening to this insightful and very entertaining interview.

The interview

Direct MP3 Link