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Local democracy changing in digital era case study City of Gdansk

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How the local dmocracy changed over the last decade. My presentation on Rockit Warsaw Conference in February 2017

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Local democracy changing in digital era case study City of Gdansk

  1. 1. How local democracy changed over the last decade?
  2. 2. Let me introduce myslef For longer than decade I worked with local goverments in Poland. 7 years ago started cooperation with our Mayor in the city I live in, Gdansk. First I started to talk with him about future of communication, about forecast for democracy and started to teach him how to use Social media in communication via internet and to get in real contact with citizens. I saw I could do much more working inside city gov and 3,5 years ago made decission, closed my company, sell the shares in another and started work for City Hall. That was the start of exciting adventure.
  3. 3. My dream and plan: Tear down the walls of City Hall Over the next years, we (lots of people inside and outside the city hall) have done a lot of hard work. Social Media and other digital means of communication, has been implemented in the structure and operations of the City Hall and Mayors Office. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we have made a great progress and we have inspired, and still inspire other cities.
  4. 4. What happened and what is happening? More and more real conversations, requests, applications, discussions took place in web space. All means of web communication with the city office skyrocketed. 10 to 50 messages per day coming to the Mayor just by Facebook Fanpage. He personally read or answer most of them or at least looked at. All discussions on various platforms like Twitter, Google +, Slideshare, Youtube and Mayors blog - has obviously affected Mayor’s perception of the residents real needs, problems and emotions.
  5. 5. Citizens eager to use Facebook’s Messenger to stay in touch.
  6. 6. We’ve changed the way of comminication, We stressed on making YouTube films, plain articles on a city website,, infographics to make them easier do share, to spread. Maybe its obvious today, but was not 5-6 years ago.
  7. 7. Make real conversation happens We felt that we share something really important with our citizens and we started to build new ways of knowing the opinions and to make real conversation happens.
  8. 8. Open leader All this became possible because we had an open leader. We even have managed to transform our Mayor in Social Media hard user, very active participant in disqussions on social media platforms.. He appreciated all the changes, whats more important, he started to like this way of communication.
  9. 9. Paweł Adamowicz – Mayor City of Gdansk City Lab workshop in London „A glance at the Facebook board, entrance on Twitter for half an hour, give the feeling that you know what is happening in Gdansk, you feel the pulse of the city. You know what people are saying, what media channels and influensers talk about.”
  10. 10. Citizens wanted to have more data, and we wanted to talk with them about the data. We felt, that people expect from us to be more transparent, more open. Citizens wanted to get more data, and we wanted to talk with them about the smart governing. Started open data program, even realeasing all the City Hall expenses daily on city website.
  11. 11. Built spreadable stories. Wanted to generate stories, and we wanted to make them more spreadable.
  12. 12. Civic budget But we also wanted to engage and invented the web 2.0 tools to make it happens Civic panel Civic participation processes Interactive city budget of Gdańsk We and citizens needed new skills, new tools to make this cooperation working. We wanted to learn how to listen and how to find new ways of debate - introduce new tools of participation:
  13. 13. Momentum for building stronger democracy It was a time, that I strongly belived, that Its a momentum for building stronger democracy. For elected officials, including my previous boss, every time a citizen makes a complaint or request, it just feels like one more burden on an already busy schedule. It’s understandandable why they might feel this way, but that doesn’t make it right.
  14. 14. In fact, the more active and engaged citizen are, the closer we come to the liberal democracy. Social media used properly by the citizens and city govermnet, could boost democracy. It is a fact, that people got the power in their hands. The more active and engaged citizen are, the closer we come to the liberal democracy definition.
  15. 15. Gdansk as Freedom city, with free data, free code, free people, Solidarity movement, and solidarity with others We saw how the communication culture changed, and we wanted to create story of Gdansk as Freedom city, with free data, free code, free people, create a story about Solidarity movement and solidarity with others, and make it sticky or rather shareable all over the Poland and over the world. We had huge achievments, without huge budgets, just making good products and sharing the story and having fun the same time, working with joy and commitment.
  16. 16. Black clouds on the horizon However, year after year, after the first raptures, came sobering. Modern internet dominated by a platform not only shows the exhaustion of democracy which we knew so far, but I’m afraid our democracy is kidnapped, its hacked.
  17. 17. Dark and light side Each of us has become a potentially important actor and voices of many had been heard thanks to social media. But the phenomenon of fake news, trolling, hate was never bigger than today. There has never been a such a low level of quality in public discussion.
  18. 18. Democratic dabate vs marketing The real problem: we do not exchange various arguments in the course of the public debate, but thanks to marketing techniques, everyone hears what he wants to hear and the message he suggests. Algorithms of platforms make divisions between competing camps deepen, and we stay in information bubbles, becoming prisoners of our beliefs.
  19. 19. Inflation of democracy and public debate Information flow changed so that what becomes "shareble", "spreadable" is what entertains. Every messag needs to be entertainment - even political and religious. I analyzed the statistics of many posts. One in which my boss decorated Christmas tree with his children and those which touched upon matters of importance. Several thousand time more popular - measured in likes, shares - currencies today's platforms - than important topics, decisions.
  20. 20. Media lost thier vocation Today great part of the energy and resources must go to monitoring the Internet, constantly responding to crises and disinformation appearing at any time of the week, day or night. It was media work few years ago, but today Media has lost thier vocation and the regulatory role in todays world. There is no time for long and in-depth debate. What can not be shown in the memes, it doesn’t exist in consciousness. I'm not saying that's good or bad, but I say like it is.
  21. 21. Who does rule the world, the city? People, government, media? I’m afraid none of them… On one hand, owners of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat likely to show us, how every next medium is powerful to democratize communication. On the other side classical media show the loss of citizen control, as the platforms for distributing media are concentrated in few hands. The more capital you have, the more you can. Fortunately, in Poland, political parties are not as rich as in the US, but even in our country financing political ventures with state money is a trending topic.
  22. 22. Democratization or destabilization? We still do not know where it exactly goes? We don’t know what people collectively or individually decide to do with those technologies as professionals, as an audience, and what culture change will it produce in the end. We still don’t know what will be the influence of new actors, like companies, paid by huge money would influence what kind of information we get and what king of behaving it would generate.
  23. 23. People have the tools and they know how to use it People have the tools and they know how to use it if they want to boost Susan Boyle’s story, so lets engage them in real discussion. It’s not easy – I know. I’m not sure if adding more emotions to political movements and election is the best way. I can see it builts even higher barricades and deepening divisions.
  24. 24. What next? I do not have optimistic answer, but I have a hope! How to convince people that it is worthwhile to spend time and resources on the important things? Is it the only way is to turn all the fun? I have no ready answer. I do not have an optimistic answer. But i have a hope.
  25. 25. The most important currency is the time Today the most important currency is the time. That's what you can do to improve your city, your local democracy: Devote the time to check facebook lies, stay familiar with information. Make the action. Give the commitment. The most important currency is the time Today the most important currency is the time. That's what you can do to improve your city, your local democracy: Time devoted to make local action, to cooperate with city officials, with NGOs. Devoted to fact checking to stay familiar with true information. Make the action. Give the commitment.
  26. 26. Thanks for your attention Tomek Nadolny 509-965-415 tomek@openity.pl