Catching up and clearing the cache

As I’ve written multiple times in the last few months (I know, it’s getting pretty old), it’s been tough times trying to keep up with blogging with all of the other stuff going on (trying to expose astroturf in Washington, working to free your cell phones from corporate oppression, raising a beautiful and ever-squirmy 10-month-old).

Even with all that and more taking up my time, there’s lots going on in this old brain.  So here’s what I’m trying: rather than auto-posting my delicious links (which is a nice way of keeping up, but very boring for you, my readers), I’ll revisit the sites I bookmark throughout the way and add some notes.  Kind of like Nancy Scola’s clearing the cache and Ezra Klein’s tab dumps.  Except, um, less frequent.

So:

– A big Pew study was released this week that seemed to contain conflicting reports. One hand, Pew’s people write, “the internet is not changing the fundamental socio-economic character of civic engagement in America.” Darn, I thought it was!

The issue is that, put bluntly, poor people still don’t vote nearly as much as rich people do.

But on the other hand,

Some 19% of internet users have posted material online about political or social issues or used a social networking site for some form of civic or political engagement. And this group of activists is disproportionately young.

That’s good, right? And doesn’t that point to greater involvement in politics from young people?

My former colleague Micah Sifry, sharp as always, picks up on the good news and expands on the study’s underreported positive note.

Expecting the Internet, which has only become a mainstream arena for politics in the last four years, to somehow erase, overnight(!?), decades of deeply ingrained cultural habits and deliberate governmental policy designed to reduce political participation strikes me as, um, a bit silly.

Rather, the more interesting finding of the Pew study is that there’s a new “pig in the python” in the generation of younger people who are using the Internet for political purposes at levels that literally blow everyone else off the charts.

– Debra Askanase, who blogs at Community Organizer 2.0, recently posted a case study of setting up a Facebook fan page for a big nonprofit.  I’ve been increasingly fascinated by the possibilities of fan pages, since they seem to be the best way yet of deeply engaging an audience of supporters outside of the standard email list.  There’s still work to be done, and the problem of finding and keeping supporters online still exists, but we’re getting closer to actually making social media useful.

– One of the many great things that came out of Netroots Nation was finding out about LittleSis, an “involuntary facebook of powerful Americans, collaboratively edited by people like you.”  Basically, it’s a way to keep track of those powerful people who’d rather you didn’t keep track of them.

They’re doing some heavy-duty investigative reporting, working with the HuffPo to track down ex-Congressional staffers who are now health care lobbyists and Spot.Us to discover who’s behind the Bay Area’s big companies.  Go folks go!

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