Are You Activating Citizen 2.0?

img_18661I’ve very happy to announce that we’ve firmed up deets for the Tri-Valley’s first “Citizen 2.0” training (East San Francisco Bay Area, CA), to be held at the end of March in Dublin.

This is very important to me, because the main reason I do this blog is to spread the word about how busy folks can use modern communications tools to take direct control of their democracy. Social media and 2.0 culture has the power to engage active citizens and businesspeople with their local community and government in ways not seen since the decay of small town life. This changes everything, from business development to governance.

I hope that you are promoting similar projects in your communities as well. Please tell us about them in the comments here!

This free training will target entry-level folks who don’t know a Twitter from a MySpace but may already be engaging their customers with newsletters, or their government with public comment. PR pro George Millington, Realtor and social media enthusiast Jonathan Fleming and I are taking on this project with support and help from two local bloggers who run Around Dublin, a pro bono effort to promote Dublin, CA businesses and engage citizens with their government. Around Dublin has several hundred daily readers, and we will be cross-promoting the event with flyers, Craiglist ads, word of mouth, and other traditional and “new” media. We also hope to get a local business or two to offer raffle prizes to get folks in the door, and we’re providing food, because what good event is complete without it?

So, what does a Citizen 2.0 training consist of? This is what we hope to convey in our two-hour program:

Participation in local government is important. It’s the only way to influence policies that may affect you, it keeps politicians accountable, and local government decisions and community effort are key to driving local business development.

Barriers to participation are significant. It’s hard to make the time to stay up on local government or to get motivated to get involved. If you have been involved, it can be discouraging to not see any change from your efforts, or you may simply feel like you have nothing to contribute.

One of the ways to break down the barriers is Citizen 2.0. This is a community member engaged through simple Web communication tools to know what’s going on in their City, with the means to quickly and easily add meaningful input. Citizen 2.0 is streamlined activism for modern life. It’s the blog I built to harness energy around modifying a local library project, and it is bringing people together around community and economic development in non-traditional ways.

Social media is the Web-tool enabled culture that drives Citizen 2.0. We’ll cover the culture of collaboration, transparency and immediacy of Web 2.0, and give an overview of blogging and an introduction to tools such as Facebook, Skype, Yelp, Twitter and Google Alerts. This demo will include how to “talk the talk” when it comes to getting started with these tools.

We’ll close with advice on how local citizens can make a difference using social tools to build community, advance issues, drive local business development, and participate in local policymaking. We’ll also pump the Around Dublin blog and its ongoing evolution. During a final Q&A, we’ll also be signing folks up for Twitter.

As you can tell, I’m very excited about this. I hope it’s interesting to you as well, and will spur continued creativity in community building in your neck of the woods.

Rock on!

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How Did You First Learn of Twitter?

In a post yesterday, I got thinking about the first time I heard about blogging (and Blogger). I’m wondering, how did you first hear about Twitter? What got you posting?

According to popular lore, many people were first exposed to Twitter in April 2008, when a freelance journalist arrested while covering a demo in Egypt used his friends to alert the State Department, which quickly obtained his release. Ari Herzog (he hit the Twitter Elite for at least part of today) tells me he first started using the microblogging service as part of a local movie club he belonged to, using SMS messages to connect.

I first heard of Twitter while investigating the Christmas 2007 tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo. In early 2008, I was reviewing phone records and notices a bunch of SMS entries. Turns out they were Twitter messages.

I heard the Egyptian jail Twitter story on NPR, and in the latter half ot 2008 opened an account. I became active on Twitter during the Obama campaign, live blogging debates and such. My participation with GovLoop, the social network for Government 2.0, changed my usage as I met many innovative Twitter users, including Herzog.

One of the best descriptions of why I like Twitter I will borrow from the crowd there: “Twitter is about people you want to know better.”

How about you?

10 Predictions for 2009

1) #TCOT is revealed as a liberal plot to stop conservatives from writing letters to the editor by corralling them in a Twitter echo chamber.
2) Social media tools continue to proliferate, culminating in an amazing app that allows @Scobleizer to talk to himself from six more directions at once.
3) Leveraged buyouts come back into style when Mommy Bloggers take over the New York Times.
4) All talk of a border fence ends when it’s realized that laid-off tech workers really won’t do manual labor, and all the hard-working conservatives are too busy with Twitter to halt sweeping immigration reform.
5) Al Franken loses his Senate bid in the longest recount on record, while the media moves on to Chris Matthews’ more serious bid.
6) Wal-Mart buys Facebook.
7) @chrisbrogan buys Twitter.
8) Tom Cruise and Kevin Costner collaborate on an epic look into the secret lives of dolphins.
9) Gay activists finance a proposition to legalize polygamy in Utah. It wins handily, and the polygamists aren’t allowed to adopt in several states, chiefly Arkansas.
10) OJ Simpson escapes from jail, is apprehended after stealing a white Blazer and leading police on a 4-hour low-speed chase.

Add your predictions in the comments. …

10 Cool Twitter People at GovLoop.com

@meghan1018 – she writes about government with a little extra political flavor, plus, she’s practically my neighbor!
@pbroviak – virtual worlds, mom, Public Works director, just awesome
@bgreeves – ditto Pam, Muni Gov 2.0, stylish geek (no longer self-proclaimed, pal!)
@quepol – We heart SF!
@david_tallan – whip-smart, representing Ontario
@mikekwan – shout out to a GovLoop newbie
@k0emt – #1 avatar on this list, where can I get one?
@marlinex – have to show love to CalPers!
@stelzner – watch out, he listens to people on trains …
@levyj413 – save water, would ya!?