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Friday, April 07, 2006

New Media

We were honored to receive an invitation from the National Conference of State Legislators to talk about The Senate Site at their Spring Forum in Washington D.C. Here’s an excerpt from the program this morning:
E-Democracy: Using IT to Connect and Communicate
How are legislatures using new technologies to encourage citizen involvement and participation in the democratic process? This session will highlight innovative new ways for legislators to inform constituents and communicate with the public about pressing policy issues.
First up is a discussion on legislative blog sites. Representative Aaron Pena – the Steve Urquhart of Texas - will speak first, followed by the Utah Senate.

Jim Greenwalt, Evelyn Messinger, and Daniel Bevarly will also speak, exploring computer-mediated communication and on-line communities.

Exciting times. New media has given legislators and legislatures everywhere an unprecedented ability to partner with - and be accountable to - the folks back home.

We thought a few interested attendees might like to see how to write and post a blog. If you can view this posting – then it worked.

2 Comments:

Blogger steve u. said...

Ric,

You and your fellow contributors on the Senate Site are truly sensational. I'm glad legislators from other states are recognizing the work. As Sen. Hillyard mentions below, it would be beneficial, if people knew how easy it is to participate in the process. This site goes a long way toward conveying that message. Good work!

4/08/2006 12:31 AM  
Blogger The Senate Site said...

NCSL's notes on the forum:

"Assemblyman Chivulkula described the format for the session and introduced the first two panelists.

"Representative Pena noted that he knows little about computers, but he is a strong proponent of blogging. Blogs--short for “web log”—are online public journals that document a person’s daily thoughts and experiences. Representative Pena stumbled upon this option and found it was an ideal way to tell his constituents what he was doing. An election opponent alleged that Pena was “never around” the district, but the blog let him show constituents that he was constantly working on their behalf. Pena has had over 41,000 hits on his site. You can use pictures, exchange ideas and do a great deal through blogging. You can also learn a lot about the people who come to the site. Legislator bloggers can choose from various blog programs and set parameters by deleting certain objectionable responses. Most take pride in the openness of their sites and the willingness to listen to any criticism. You can update your blog anytime, anywhere. It does allow your opponent to know what you are doing and may provide fuel for a campaign issues, but the advantage of blogging for constituent communications are huge. The real issue for legislators does not involve the problems with starting a blog; rather it is the time and effort to maintain a blog. Finally, Representative Pena noted that you cannot get so carried away with the blog that you forget that there are constituents who will not see your blog, and you have to continue to reach them in other ways.

"Ric Cantrell described a blog for the Senate Republicans in Utah. They wanted some additional ways to reach the citizens beyond working through the traditional media. Using a vision of creating a site that is classy, deliberative, informative, good humored, relevant, and interesting, they have sought to create a direct link with constituents. The Senate Republicans have encouraged their members to be creative and share thoughts on current events, describe their political philosophies, make observations and so on. In essence, they want to describe some of the interesting background that goes on in the political life of a legislator. This is a chance for a legislator to be creative, informal and human."

4/28/2006 5:04 PM  

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