Wednesday, July 27, 2005

e-Democracy and Zanby

I attended a global e-Democracy Conference this week at the Humphrey Institute in Minneapolis. I attended to inform folks about the depth and breadth of Zanby, to talk with visionaries in the e-Democracy and e-Gov fields, and to explore other avenues of technology activism. It was produced by Steven Clift, the founder of

I am not sure where Zanby fits in the scope of deliberative technologies. A few of the panelists and participants felt that e-democracy was very narrowly focused on facilitating decision making processes. In other words, if citizens could use the Internet, or a phone, or a billboard, or anything that is e-enabled to shape governmmental decisions then it qualifies as e-democracy. Yet many of the presentations were about the delivery of Government services and community building software.

As we create and empower communities of interest AND function - I believe we will empower participation. It may be best described as the a kind of back to the future effect. We were once bound by and vested in our communities. Now our communnities are significantly larger and more complex. By using technology as a complexity-filter, we can manage our lifestyles in a way that allows us to take advantage of the many things our rich, global, wired community offers...while keeping our sanity.

This morning we met with MN Secratary of State, Mary Kiffemeyer, who demoed the state of Minnesota's electoral tabulating tools. Though I have often disagreed with Madame Secretary's ideology and the way she has carried out her duties, I salute her on the implementation of these technologies. It's impressive, and unique in the country.

We also heard presentations from the City of St. Paul, which is running some very nice newsletter campaigns, and a killer presentation from Andrew Haig of MPR who has created a Budget Balancer. That's right-- create your own state budget and email it to your reps.

Friend and co-blogger, Chuck Olsen might have some video of the conference up later at MN Stories.


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