My fav quote on e-mail from Chapter 6...
"What does e-mail have going for it that the other attempts at many-to-many communication didn't? Cost, for one... With e-mail, having a large, long-lived, and geographically widespread conversation entails no expenses. E-mail delivery is almost instant, unlike ordinary mail, and unlike the phone, it doesn't require the sender and the receiver to be synchronized." p 157
Interesting - well I had e-mail at home some years before getting it as an elected political rep and before I got it at work. Initially at work there was only one account per team, and in some areas shared team group e-mail accounts continue - in fact this can make sense to orgs where work place operate 24 x 7 x 52 - to ensure key communications are not lost.
The internet has "the flexibility that allows people to design and try new communications tools without having to ask anyone for permission." p 157-158
"Social tools don't create collective action - they merely remove the obstacles to it.. many of the significant changes are not based on the fanciest, newest bits of technology but on simple, easy to use tools like e-mail, mobile phones, and websites, because those are the tools most people have access to, and critically, are comfortable using in their daily lives." p 159-160
Our community had long been a mining & industrial centre with many blue collar workers. In the late 1950's a fledgling university college was establised - becoming a full uni in 1975 and growing to international rated status over the following 30 years.Professional people began to move in from Sydney.
Professionals linked with working class people in community pressure groups when controversial developments were proposed. And the professionals were IT literate & will to share. In the early days of Web 1.0 a group really needed to have 1 or 2 people capable of doing some basic programming - I'd done Fortran, Pascal & a little C++ at uni, so teaching myself rudimentary HTML for WYSIWYG websites was no stretch at all. Ultimately there would be many around like me. And more working class people in the pressure groups began to use e-mail when they saw the benefits.
Back in 2000, I don't believe the Administration where I was an elected rep had grasped the way so many geographically distinct community pressure groups had morphed into a giant collective social movement - all helped along by e-mail.The City Council subscribed to a media monitor service - but it couldn't monitor the e-mails of all of the members in the coalition of community pressure groups. Regardless the Council struggled to deal with the issues raised with them directly.
"Now that we have ridiculously easy group forming, .... organizations that assume geography as a core organizing principle, even ones that have been operating that way for centuries, are now facing challenges to that previous bedrock principle" p 155
This was a social movement where the common ground, rather than the divisions, were recognised, and so it became far more powerful. About 5 or 6 years later, & after I had retired from politics, the council would axe the then official local Precinct Committees, officially known as Neighbourhood Committees - ostensibly because they were unrepresentative - but many attributed it to them being too obstructionist.
Some time later in early 2008 the Councillors themselves were sacked by our NSW StateGovernment following an ICAC corruption inquiry - where 4 of the 13 were found to have engaged in corrupt conduct.
"Revolution doesn't happen when society adopts new technologies - it happens when society adopts new behaviours" p 160
Since that time Web 2.0 has exploded and it is now a no-brainer to set up an instant group on FaceBook - just look at what happened during last year's NSW school HSC exams. Groups would spring up the day that an issue emerged and membership exploded. A parody group "Bored of Studies" satirised the official "Board of Studies" who governed the HSC exams.
An ex-councillor from years earlier, one of the least IT literate at the time, has embraced technologies and has his own anti-corruption blog ! Our Australian Prime Minister & last few NSW State Premiers are tweeting on Twitter. The Wharf Theatre Revue included Web 2.0 political send-ups in their latest show "Pennies from Kevin"
And we now await the return of democratic elections in 2012 - nearly 5 years without an elected City Council - what a different world of community consultation they will face.