Tag Archives: politics

Mobile tech + democracy = awesomeness

So I’m in this class called mobile journalism, and we’re doing a lot of cool stuff.

Liveblogging Arianna Huffington was only the beginning—we’ve Skype’d with people in Africa and Japan on the same day about how they use their phones, Skype’d with Kevin Thau, a VP of Twitter about (what else?) the future of Twitter, and now we’re designing the mobile presence of Chicago News Cooperative, the new nonprofit heavy-duty reporting outfit that covers the city for the New York Times.

Also my fridge project is for this class. Orion Magazine, whose photo project was inspiration for mine, has tweeted about me TWICE THREE TIMES. They’re my favorite mag and have been called the most important environmental magazine, so you should know I’m psyched. Feel free to follow my prof, Dan Sinker, on Twitter.

But interestingly enough, today I felt compelled to post because of the textbook for this class—Mobile Design and Development by Brian Fling. An excerpt:

The Estonian government will be putting the concept of media context to the test in their 2011 parliamentary elections, allowing citizens to vote for their leaders using SMS. In this case, the government can tabulate results instantly. But imagine a day when citizens can vote on local or national issues in real time, eschewing having to wait for traditional media to report on the effect of their vote, instead seeing the results in real time, as it happens.

There are already many opting to use the mobile media context in order to be heard. On the immensely popular television show American Idol, more votes were cast using a mobile phone in 2009 (178 million total text message votes) than votes cast in the 2008 presidential election (131 million ballots cast).

If that doesn’t deserve an “OMG,” I don’t know what does.

My idea: direct democracy. I think it’s possible with saturation of mobile.

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Clout City

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Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley speaks at a celebration for a building’s LEED certification. (Creative Commons-licensed photo from the Flickr account of the Center for Neighborhood Technology)

Move over, Tribune, there’s another watchdog in town. No one seems to follow the mayor’s corruption (yes, I said it) more intently than Mick Dumke of the Reader.

If you haven’t already read the cover story he wrote with Ben Joravsky, Chicagoans, it’ll blow your mind. And get you hooked on Dumke’s blog. And give you a reason to object when your friends say “I vote for Daley ’cause I don’t know why I wouldn’t…”

I wish I had done work like this at the two papers I’ve written for in years past. No regrets, though. After reading this article and archives of the blog “Clout City,” I’ve armed myself for next time: with source gumption and due persistence.

Maybe someday I’ll do my part to help edge representative democracy back into Chicago.