Convened by: Anne, Peggy, Lew
The impetus: Chance meeting between Ann, Peggy, Lewis. Talking about communications commons that would support a collaborative civic culture and space. Ann has harbored the idea of a hub, a kind of platform, on which the many communications possibilities for a neighborhood could receive and communicate. Lew's idea of having a civic-wide space. Question: In what ways could Seattle be a model, hub, possibility?
Professor at U. Wisconsin Madison. Seattle is a unique city. In particular, there's no place else that has as rich a civic ecology and media ecology and the fit between them. Potential to be a national and even international model. Rich ecology of widely distributed media. Great university, civic institutions. Perhaps most important: Gov't institutions like "Office of Neighborhoods". There's the civic infra to take the next step.
Platform opportunity for civic deliberation, for reinvention of the media. A space that's listened to by the city. Great connection between dialogue, deliberation, and policy.
Civic "Story Corps". Storytelling, arts and culture are as important to this vision as deliberation.
Knight has supported an effort to enable youth to be actors in public life in W. Minneapolis. A very central role for youth in this vision.
The people are in the room to do this.
Also: Young people as a resource for storytellers.
Jeff Vander Clute: Intensely interested in enabling online community.
Cameron Hall: Stave [The scribe missed Cameron's introduction.]
Sally James: Writes mostly about medicine and science. As a volunteer, journalist working on science literacy.
Jim McGinley: Ashoka representative. We need a world in which people feel confident in leading change. Extending the organization to Seattle. How to leverage Ashoka resources in the region.
Ken LeBlond: VA hospital in Seattle & Tacoma. Have been challenged to find certain veterans who are not finding/using VA services. Curious to know where communities are being formed online. Have blessings from above to engage in this way.
Matthew Stadler: Suddenly.org. Particularly interested in how the creation of this digital environment interacts with physical meeting.
Muzammil: CCCE. Grad student at UWash. Understanding civic info and preferences and linking with kinds of information they require. Most recently looking at young people. Puget Soundoff = online community as an environment to create technologies and understand what works.
Tracy Record: West Seattle Blog. Different groups are working in different venues and the information doesn't come together. Bringing together groups that are working on similar things, even when that's not ordinary journalistic work.
Ken Gilleren: On founding team of Seattle Community Network, an early attempt to do something in civic space. Working with regional community-based orgs to see what can be leveraged online. The importance of APIs and a pluggable framework instead of one site to rule them all.
Jacquie: Missouri School of Journalist professor. Especially interested in using the Internet to pull people together. Lives in Seattle so cares about this community. Special passion for storytelling and how it connects people. The notion of the shared story. Question: Could something like this idea drive part of this country past the digital divide? How can everybody have access to such a commons?
Lew: The technical infrastructure is better in Seattle for overcoming the digital divide.
Mike Fancher: One hat is the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities. Would like to draw our attention to that report. The information health of a community is as vital as safe streets, good schools, healthy economy... We need the availability of credible relevant info that helps people in the private and civic lives. We need the capacity to use that information. We need the civic engagement. The commission then went on to call for informed communities. Need abundant journalism and open gov't. Then 15 recommendations. JTM is one of those... Where goes JTM go next?
Rick VanderKnyff: MSN local initiatives across MSN and Bing. On the board of PCC Farmland Trust.
John Spady: Volunteer for the citizen councilor program. We have a Countywide Community Forums communityforums.org. To engage in dialogue to provide hooks into policy and change. Let's have face-to-face communities. The spark that happens with eye contact and giving one another respectful space and feedback. Continual recycling of dialog with the county and the city. To all who live here, consider being part of the conversation.
Ross Reynolds: Hosts "The Conversation" on public radio and is at the Masters in Digital Media program. How to add value to the radio discussion online through allowing and encouraging the reuse/remixing of the material heard on the radio station.
Eric Sherman: Works at Bing doing large-scale computing projects for a long time. The same kinds of problems arise in this space as arise in computing. E.g. the proliferation of tools that are available for this task. So many tools that it dilutes the entire space. It would be helpful to have consolidation. Maybe some of the groups here could coordinate their efforts and come up with consistent tooling. Then there's an opportunity for collective advertising, etc.
Question: What are the most essential things for us to pay attention to here to assist us in creating a commons?
Anne is a founder of Friends of Third Place Commons. A diverse, face-to-face commons. 800+ actual events that are happening. It's a stakeholder circle that holds the space that includes gov't, nonprofits, business. Three-legged stakeholder circle. Libraries, colleges, and all the various nonprofits are part of the circle.
A multilayered image. The big structures of gov't, UW, Microsoft... are participating in a space that allows all of us to connect, show off, enjoy ourselves, understand each others' stories...
What other images are out there?
We have all these little pieces. They're disconnected. Editing is saying there are all these pieces... a form of curation of a community conversation that's done with care, openness, fairness, balance, etc. Not editing out, but editing together. Editing is common in a literal sense. Sharing makes everyone richer. The Times could use this as a new form of bureau. We could neighborhood editors who really know things. The reporting could become richer, more synthetic, more targeted, more useful over time.
This has to be a "cooperative commons". Commons are a form of ownership and business structure. This region has the most developed coop structure in the USA. GHC is a model for national healthcare coops. It's no accident. The coop model is a template that includes all the stakeholders. Has to be sustainable as a cooperative venture. If it is, it's because everyone benefits.
Talking about the technology aspect:
The space is already cooperative. There are intimations of what a broader commons looks like. Some keys: Some tools are being developed that are incredibly simple and effective, like Twitter... People don't want a stream of consciousness. Core of interactivity and agreed-upon principles which people guard jealously, to which people attach useful things as they are developed. Need organic growth. Can't mastermind in advance.
Discover the core of interoperability to which you could attach new functionality. We're beyond traditional functional design requirements.
There's also a face-to-face aspect of stewardship.
Stewarding a common space. Can take the form of a board. Extensive discussions about the minimum essential requirements for civic space. So that people are civil. Many suggestions... Conversations were very rich because we engaged in the question of why do you care about that? How do you care in a way that doesn't keep people out? That assists people to know how to be in this space? Even the signage is very deliberate. Different kinds of tables. It's even important to have a messy-looking space. Would not participate if not all the stakeholders were able to participate and hold the circle.
[Catching up, so possibly misattributing this.] Skeptical that city should be in charge.
Hearing two aspects of a commons that seem essential. 1) There is a deliberate and present host who makes the space inviting. Can't simply be a neutral designated place. Comes from a circle of stakeholders. It isn't simply the absence of private, but the act of creation... 2) It's essential that the different stakeholders each be present on equal terms. No one stakeholder is in charge, but they're all at the table.
We all know why gov'ts can be tedious at best and destructive at worst... Seattle is more of an enabler but has its problems. But gov't is inclusive by definition. When gov't is involved, it's a form of public convening. I think the city should be involved. Let's leverage the things that already exist and work reasonably well, improve them... The BBC is very much the working model. BBC is funded by citizens through gov't, not unlike CPB, but gov't doesn't own it and doesn't control it. A cooperative form of ownership with gov't as a participant and convener of certain aspects.
A concern... There are so many people who say they don't want their tax dollars to go to that... If Seattle were to give money, we'd need a response to that accusation. Why funding this when other things aren't being paid for? Countywide Community Forums takes no tax dollars by design. If you can get the commons to be supported financially by non-tax authorities, that could be helpful.
At some level, you need to be careful not to say let's not have gov't do *any* of the convening functions of democracy.
CCF takes donations.
Third Space's model is like KUOW. Use it. We hope you'll make a contribution and become a supporter of the commons. We started out as a nonprofit and added gov't and business as funders.
In an online environment, are there things to attend to... so that people feel they can do ordinary tasks instead of just entering a clinical environment.
Village Soup model has shopping and other aspects of ordinary spaces.
Mike, Peggy, Anne:
Discussion of how the physical extends online. Face to face happens through parties and other organic activity.
Design has to be organic to weave the F2F and virtual together. Some of this is keeping tabs on what people are doing in the real world. There's a lot of different layers of bringing together F2F and online activity.
If this idea has legs, who in this group wants to carry it forward? Who else who's not here? What's the next step? Identify a group that wants to be involved... (Many people expressed interest.)
Metaphor: "Information flow smart grid"
Compelled by the idea that Seattle Public Library could be a host. They are an information commons already. There's a lot going on in those buildings. A lot of the same things that we are talking about valuing.
Yelp is a commercial correlate. In building local online communities, you have tools and a topic that draws people together. In every market, Yelp has a community manager that hosts events. Having a face that gives the commons a personality... and a correlation to a physical place where there are people I'm talking to... not just a filter for information.
It would be interesting to get Yelp and library folks involved.
Libraries are essential but they're also overburdened. They'd be one of the hosts, but they're not THE host. There can be multiple hosts convening multiple spaces linked together. I don't think any one institution can hold it all. Not just the convening capacity, but also the hosting capacity.
Is this Seattle or more broadly? The group is inclined toward a broader definition.
Take advantage of the newly elected officials.
Discussion around organizing next steps. John is organizing, joined by Rick, Mike, Tracy, Ann, Mike. This project overlaps with the future of the JTMPNW energy, so there will be a discussion around possibly bringing those together.
Jacquie: Need a more diverse organizing group at the table.