civic media engagement and participation

Submitted by Jeff Schuler on Fri, 06/27/2008 - 09:44.

Is REALNEO safe for lurkers?

Identity is a crucial part of social software systems, but it can (and should) take time for an identity to reveal itself. Certainly, you can be invited to join an existing community by a friend—and that’s something we specifically designed for—but, even then, when you start to reach out from your “safety blanket,” your own identity comes to the fore. What do you do when you first hear of a new site to visit? I don’t know about you, but generally I’ll head on over and perhaps even sign up. As I poke around, I’m essentially anonymous. I have no ties to anyone or anything, and am free to move about without any recognition. This anonymity is important. It allows a new visitor to look around and get a feel for the place, and choose when and how to get started.

-- George Oates, Community: From Little Things, Big Things Grow (A List Apart)

How are we encouraging the lurkers to ditch their safety blanket and begin to participate?

In many cases, though, only 1 percent of people are willing to do the hard work involved with investigating a story, while 10 percent will be sufficiently involved to participate in crowdsourcing, while others will simply serve as readers. Rosen speculates that the key to crowdsourced citizen media is to identify that precious 1% and turn them loose...and to figure out how to break up reporting tasks to leverage that 10 percent, but not spend too much time worrying about the 89 percent who will just read.

-- Ethan Zuckerman, Future Civic Media at MIT. Shiny! (WorldChanging)

How can we identify and draw in that 1%?

What about turning the 10% (crowdsourcers) into the diligent 1%?

New social media

Wow--I had no idea.  If you don't like RealNEO, you can also blog at

But, how do you get people to find you?


At REALNEO, the terms of use state a few simple things, including:

I. License

You own your information, and maintain a copyright in all your Postings on this site.

II. Revocation

You may remove your content at any time by selecting them and deleting or by deleting your account.

At, the terms of use state lots of complex things, including:


For information regarding use of information about you that you may supply or communicate to the Website, please see our Privacy Policy. Except as expressly provided otherwise in the Privacy Policy or in this Agreement, you agree that by posting messages, uploading text, graphics, photographs, images, video or audio files, inputting data, or engaging in any other form of communication with or through the Website, you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive, unrestricted, worldwide license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, enhance, transmit, distribute, publicly perform, display, or sublicense any such communication (including your identity and information about you) in any medium (now in existence or hereinafter developed) and for any purpose, including commercial purposes, and to authorize others to do so. In addition, please be aware that information you disclose in publicly accessible portions of the Website will be available to all users of the Website, so you should be mindful of personal information and other content you may wish to post.

So if you post a poem, concept, photo, song, etc., there, they own it - and you - and they may commercialize it and you any whay they want - even ways that do not exist today - forever. Posting anything there is to give yourself to a massive corporate machine! That is not a way to drive change of anything.

Disrupt IT

ownership and indemnity

you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive, unrestricted, worldwide license

I think that these statements are used a lot more for indemnity than anything, but it's sad that good ideas about ownership in America have run so far amok.

Thanks, Norm, for having the high-mindedness to put together a more meaningful and fair policy.

Speaking of fairness and indemnity, though, I think we might add something to the REALNEO terms of use regarding the posting of others' work. Photos and articles posted here are not always the poster's own, and, (I would imagine,) posted without consent of the original author.

Quoting is one thing, but re-posting full articles is another... vs. realneo policies postings are published in the PD, which is a way of commercializing that. And they seem to be amassing a large collection of people's photos, which could have great long term financial value... it's not like there is a promise content is forever free...

As for realneo terms of use, I'm sure they need lots of work - the only thing I have always been concerned about is that the creator of content retains ownership of their creation. REALNEO never commercializes any content. In that respect, I believe certain copyrighted material may be posted, but I'm not up on such legal details.

Anyone who wants to take a crack at updating the terms of use should feel free to make suggestions... any lawyers in the house?

Disrupt IT

can't even comment there

I made a couple of comments there that were probably objectionable to their livelihood and they blocked my IP address. I found that I could login and type in the box, but nothing would post. OK, maybe their technology is just lame, but after several tries, I just gave up. Even if I wanted to comment on their stories, I can't. I can comment on them here though and do if it is worth the time. Besides, here I can use my name. Journalists uses their real names. Can you imagine someone named ^%$#*^#* winning a Pulitzer someday?


Today's story--exclusive?

Plain Dealer exclusive : Payrolls and politics

Posted by jwagner [at] plaind [dot] com June 29, 2008 06:09AM

Did it tell me anything that I didn't already know?*  (I found it humorous that the same edition ran a piece about source amnesia)

I want to see walkable neighborhoods restored, water/sewer lines, gas lines and transit repaired.  Riparian areas of the city allowed to revert to their natural function and food production in the city.  

I want investment in the urban core, and an end to the run-away mentality fueled by the Plain Dealer (Daily Miracle? How about the miracle of permalinks?) and other local media outlets.  

If old-fashioned party machine politics gave me a liveable neighborhood, then it would be my party, too.  But, we have no party here in NEO.

(In answer to Joe Frolik's question of the day: How is Cleveland doing?--I would posit the question: where do you live, and where do you plan on living a year from now?)

*See Tim's take on the story.

Header images

Norm, where are you hiding the recent header images?   We need IDs/location finders.