New Media Tools and Participatory Democracy

14. February 2010 – 12:13 by Francesco Molinari

I have just come back from an intensive 2-day workshop in Barcelona, beautifully organised and managed by QeC-ERAN - a Brussels based network of cities once affected by socio-economic breakdown - under the umbrella of a EU-funded initiative entitled Local Forums for Developing Participatory Democracy (link). The workshop aimed at highlighting the potential of multimedia tools to enhance political participation of young adults (18-30) and raise awareness of their fundamental rights and responsibilities as citizens of the Union. A notable number of young people came in from the various partner cities (the countries represented were Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the UK). Several EU-level experiences were presented, including PEP-NET ;-) and a Twitter based discussion entitled Why vote?. Sound evidence was shown regarding the creation of several Local Forums at the various partners’ locations in order to bring together ideas, make innovative experiments with multimedia tools and build new expertise to be shared internationally. An online community of practice is now being setup to further make the promotion of participatory democracy to young people more sustainable at local/regional level. Proposed instruments to facilitate the community: chat, instant messaging, whiteboard and discussion tables; voting and survey tools; document sharing facilities such as googledocs and a wiki to write together and produce text with shared visions. My comment: I spotted a lot of ingenious creativity and serious engagement in these people. Though this be madness, yet there is method in it. Worth a second look soon.

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