We consider ourselves to be pretty politically aware at This Magazine, which is why I’m excited to be attending an interesting experiment on Saturday, an “unconference” in Toronto called ChangeCamp. With the swearing in of Mr. Change himself yesterday, there’s a lot of interest and energy pouring into new ways of organizing and influencing government and engaging citizens in the political process. Here’s how the ChangeCamp organizers describe it:
ChangeCamp is a free participatory web-enabled face-to-face event
that brings together citizens, technologists, designers, academics,
policy wonks, political players, change-makers and government employees
to answer one question: How do we re-imagine government and governance
in the age of participation?
By “participation,” they mean mostly social technologies that are flourishing on the web, connecting citizens and providing easy ways for large groups of people to collaborate together. Now, I’m a big nerd for these ideas, although it’s also important to acknowledge that there’s an awful lot of techno-utopian nonsense that comes with the territory. But I also think it’s important to be there, to talk to people who are similarly excited about the possibilities for improving government responsiveness, boosting citizen engagement, and building more effective policy. This Magazine has always prided itself on studying and embracing (or, sometimes, rejecting) new progressive political movements. ChangeCamp isn’t a movement yet. But it could be. The only way to find out is to go and see for myself.
Since the content of the conference is determined by the participants on the day, we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. But it will be a diligently blogged and Twittered and YouTubed event, and I’ll report back next week on what went down. You can follow the day’s progress on Twitter (search for the term #changecamp or follow @changecamp) and on the conference website.