Personal Democracy Forum: A New Generation of Thinkers

Last week I was at Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) in New York City. PDF is known as the premier global conference on how technology is changing politics and government. This was my second year attending and it was a remarkable few days.

My favorite panel was “Truth, Fact Checking and Online Media” with Jay Rosen, NYU Journalism professor, Bill Adair, creator of Politifact, and Marc Ambinder, politics editor at Atlantic. During the panel, they discussed the maze of misinformation that exists online, and how we, as professionals, can seek to be “trusted brokers” of facts.

Politifact is an especially compelling project – and one of my Tweets quoting Adair got a lot of buzz online. As Adair said, “Obama made 500 campaign promises,” and @politifact rates them as kept, compromised, broken, stalled or in the works on ‘Obameter.’

And as always, I enjoyed hearing what Professor Rosen had to say. He opened up his presentation with a photograph of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, and stated – There have been many situations in which “the press have been put in the service of untruth.” I think that’s an important quote to remember as we find our way through this new digital forrest of information, sourcing, news gathering and fact checking.

If you don’t know much about Rosen – his ideas are worth exploring. He is one of the most disruptive thinkers in our “future of journalism” crew. To see what I mean, check out his  suggestions to CNN to save their programming, or his advice for Meet the Press: fact check what your guests say on Sunday and report it online the following Wednesday.

Why not?

The whole idea of these panels is to bring together those “disruptive” thinkers – and another one worth noting is Newark Mayor, @CoryBooker, who joined the conference for the final key note. Booker uses Twitter as one way to connect to his community and crowdsource information about their needs.

Finally, here are some other great tid bits from my live tweeting:

  • Move over, Bit.ly. The U.S. government created a URL shortener.
  • What can you do with a kite, string and a digital camera? MIT’s Jeffrey Warren is mapping the Gulf oil spill with it.
  • See a pot hole? Broken street light? See Click Fix is a new web application allowing people in communities to report non-emergency situations – and get help, fast.

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