I am researcher trying to figure out if all this web 2.0 noise can be directed to do something that connects to formal democracy.  I am exploring tensions between formal and informal participation, online and offline engagement and generally trying out ways to get people engaged with democracy.  You can read more about the specific research project here. I believe there is a real need to try and introduce some structure and reflection into how we are figuring out the process of using the social web to help democracy work better and this is why I am working on my PHD in this field.  For me it comes down to something I wrote earlier this year:

I do not want us to miss the enormous opportunity that the social web affords us to make social change by losing it in a miasma of attempts to sell stuff to each other.  I do not want to talk about marketing and how brands can influence people – I want to talk about people having more power over the world around them.  I don’t want to talk about social communications – I want to talk about fundamental culture change and how we can influence it.

However I do also have a job – after 8 years as Operation Director at Public-i I became CEX in January 2010.  Public-i develps new media technologies to help support democratic engagement and participation.  This means I get to combine theory with practice as my ‘day job’ and actually see how some of these research ideas work in practice.  My contact details are on the Public-i site if you want to connect to ‘work me’. You can also find me on twitter as @curiousc

The balance between the work and research works for me – I enjoy being able to try out research ideas and I appreciate being able to apply an academic discipline and objectivity to the work we do with clients.

I am also a governor of the Democratic Society where we look at ways of getting more people involved in new forms of democratic debate – promoting active citizenship and political participation and one of the organisers of CityCamp Brighton.  More recently I have become a Governor at PACA – Portslade Aldridge Community Academy.

I also speak at conferences and run workshops – and will usually blog about this here though this blog is mainly a research diary as I try and capture learning and experiences along the way.  I imagine you will find some less philosophical commentary as well.

It should be noted that this is my personal blog and should not be taken as the views of Public-i.

2 Responses to “About me….”

  1. Erdem Says:

    Hi Catherine,

    I’ve been working on We-Decide – a platform with the purpose of helping large groups making smart and legitimate public policy decisions. It uses “information market” as the underlying tool to prioritize and evaluate all the ideas, and there is a delegation-voting engine that serves the purpose of ensuring high participation.

    This may have sound technical and irrelevant, but I believe that if we can prove that a platform can help a community govern their club or cooperative, soon enough people will be asking why not govern our town or country online, directly.

    There are a number of online democracy initiatives, and I’m hoping to start similar one in Turkey, and support others abroad by letting all use this tool.

    If you’re interested about what I am talking about, you can have a visit at we-decide.net – and if still interested, we can show a demo of what I mean. I hope to link to more people who are passionate about giving public back what belongs to them – control of their (gov’t) decisions and resources.

    kind regards,

    Erdem


  2. […] recently started to read a blog (short for Web Log!) by researcher, Catherine Howe, who wants to use the social web to make change. She commented that she needed to, at some point, […]

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