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Encouraging civic participation through local news aggregation

Encouraging civic participation through local news aggregation Traditional sources of information for small and rural communities have been disappearing over the past decade. A lot of the information and discussion related to such areas is now scattered across websites of numerous local organizations, individual blogs, social media and other user-generated media (YouTube, Flickr). To facilitate citizen engagement and social interaction it is important to capture this information and make it easily accessible. A system with location-based support can provide local citizens with an engaging way to interact with information and identify the local issues most relevant to them, such as a road construction site. We created an information aggregator, called the Virtual Town Square (VTS), to support and facilitate local discussion. It supports a location-based interface for users to access the information collected. In this paper, we discuss focus group interviews with local citizens that motivated our design of a system to facilitate civic participation. We then discuss the unique design challenges of a local news aggregator and our design approach to create a local information ecosystem. We also describe the initial evaluation and feedback we received from local users. We close the paper with a discussion of future changes to VTS to address its initial limitations. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Information Polity IOS Press

Encouraging civic participation through local news aggregation

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Publisher
IOS Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2014 by IOS Press, Inc
ISSN
1570-1255
eISSN
1875-8754
DOI
10.3233/IP-140332
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Traditional sources of information for small and rural communities have been disappearing over the past decade. A lot of the information and discussion related to such areas is now scattered across websites of numerous local organizations, individual blogs, social media and other user-generated media (YouTube, Flickr). To facilitate citizen engagement and social interaction it is important to capture this information and make it easily accessible. A system with location-based support can provide local citizens with an engaging way to interact with information and identify the local issues most relevant to them, such as a road construction site. We created an information aggregator, called the Virtual Town Square (VTS), to support and facilitate local discussion. It supports a location-based interface for users to access the information collected. In this paper, we discuss focus group interviews with local citizens that motivated our design of a system to facilitate civic participation. We then discuss the unique design challenges of a local news aggregator and our design approach to create a local information ecosystem. We also describe the initial evaluation and feedback we received from local users. We close the paper with a discussion of future changes to VTS to address its initial limitations.

Journal

Information PolityIOS Press

Published: Jan 1, 2014

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