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Writing Working Group

Public Group active 6 years, 8 months ago

Current Problems

Last edited by Wayne on 08 October, 2010 at 19:46

This is version 1.0 of capturing the problems associated with the current system of communication between citizens and elected officials. Have a look at it and let us know what you think. As we make modifications to it, we’ll come back to you for feedback.

Our political system has reached a point of crisis.  The irresistible forces of pervasive communication technology and disgruntled popular actions are meeting the immovable objects that shape partisan and broadcast-based politics.  These problems are over-determined and none of them can be solved in isolation.


  • Have no effective avenues of communication with their elected representatives
  • Individuals feel no ownership over the stakes debated in politics
  • Much of current political engagement is focused on meaningless acts that propagate:
    • feelings of powerlessness in the system
    • lack of ownership
    • lack of community (or engagement)
  • Most citizens are not engaged in the political process and do not educate themselves about political issues

Advocacy and Advocacy Groups

  • Encouraged to polarize in order to motivate their base.
  • Discouraged from engaging opposed groups.
  • Few groups are experienced or accustomed to deliberation
  • No political memory – There is no correlation made between promises and follow-through
  • Online echo chambers create the conditions for unproductive partisanship
  • In online forums, it is difficult to engage experts, promote complete solutions, or reconcile differences

Politics and Politicians

  • Usually isolated from the grassroots activity and have little incentive to engage in open dialogue.
  • Elected officials focus on political short-term expedience and sound bites rather than long-term and nuanced solutions
  • Hidden negotiations (back-room deals) are more effective than open government
  • Polling and political partisanship hide the common ground shared by all sides
  • Winner-take-all elections fail to represent minority views and degrees of sentiment
  • Many of the most important issues need to be followed over a long term, but the media focuses on sudden shocks
  • Money talks, rather than expertise, and the voices of all the affected populations are rarely considered


  • Lack of systemic feedback loops that engage citizens, hold politicians accountable, and build on past successes.

What did we miss?

Let us know below so can modify this and improve it.

Comments (2)

  • 22 August, 2010 at 03:24
    In the Map Working Group for this website, our mission is to create several visualizations which help explain the problems listed above. Here's one of our first drafts: Based off the current problems listed above, what did we miss and what needs improvement? Thanks for the feedback!
  • Tina LeeTina Lee says:
    17 June, 2010 at 18:11
    Our schools are no longer require to teach civic education. Aggressive standards based testing has exacerbated the situation by narrowing the curriculum, particularly in communities that don't often engage politically. And even when civics is taught in schools, we only teach the mechanics, not necessarily how to engage in public discourse and affect change. Moreover, with everything moving online, effective 21st century citizenship will require 21st century technical and media literacy, and the digital divide remains a salient issue (though there's some cool stuff we can do with mobile).