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“Open-source projects and grassroots collective action are important sources of inspiration for 21st-century civic engagement, enabling us to combine the creativity and transparency of open innovation with community organizing’s relational abilities and courage to confront power.”
That’s from the a new report, “Connected Citizens: The Power, Peril and Potential of Networks,” released last month by Monitor Institute and Knight Foundation. The report examines the role of networks in linking up citizens, with the goal of increasing participation in community leadership.
The report looked at 70 projects that use an open and decentralized network-centric approach. Many of the projects “are technologically enabled,” says the report. “Others are rooted in in-person relationships. Most combine online and offline interaction, as well as insights from the open-source movement and grassroots organizing.”
Five patterns emerged for good network building:
- Listening to and consulting the crowds: Actively listening to online conversations and openly asking for advice.
- Designing for serendipity: Creating environments, in person and online, where helpful connections can form.
- Bridging differences: Deliberately connecting people with different perspectives.
- Catalyzing mutual support: Helping people directly help each other.
- Providing handrails for collective action: Giving enough direction for individuals to take effective and coordinated action.
Knight Foundation and Monitor Institute also partnered to create the website www.infotoolkit.org, billed as a Community Information Toolkit for “Building Stronger Communities Through Information Exchange.”
Knight Foundation is a philanthropic group dedicated to unleashing “individual interactivity to achieve social impact at a scale and speed never before possible.”