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Guest Blogger, Randy Bear, writes about applying new technologies for civic good

In working on the Julian Castro for Mayor Campaign, I am getting to work with some amazingly smart people – including this person:  Randy Bear.

During SXSW, Randy and I hung out at the event on the look-out for applications and concepts for the Castro campaign.  Here is his well articulated article….

This past weekend, as many of you are probably aware, I attended SXSWi in Austin. I had to cut the trip short to get some work in this week but it’s still going on. It was my first time but it’s definitely not going to be my last. I’m already planning my trip for next year and plan to pitch it at work as well. Never before have I seen such a great collection of creative web and social media enthusiasts as I did this past weekend. What’s even more exciting are the ideas I got to bring back to the Castro mayoral campaign. To continue that excitement I know Julian wants to talk about these ideas to see how we can help advance civic development in San Antonio through them.

While I was there I ran into Alan Weinkrantz who I’m working with on the Castro campaign developing online strategies. Alan’s a great individual who helps promote social media and ideas across America. He’s a guest columnist with the Express-News and has been incredible to work with and share concepts with. In a blog posting after Friday’s ssession he hit on something I agree with – we are on our way to a creative and economic renaissance. As Alan puts it in his blog entry “with all this positive energy abound, I sense an economic and creative revitalization of our country, and our world at large, in the making.”

Alan and I will be sharing our ideas with Julian when we get back together primarily because Julian wants to know how we can leverage these technologies to help change and grow San Antonio. That’s encouraging to hear from a potential mayor of the seventh largest city. It shows maturity and vision for moving San Antonio forward. His campaign has already started to demonstrate that vision with the virtual town hall conducted recently. Feedback from that event alone was great and demonstrated new ways to connect the voter and the candidate directly. As I shared this with people at SXSWi many thought it was a great idea and plan to take it back to their cities.

My last session that I attended before heading back home was on creating regional whuffie. It was very exciting to hear how others have leveraged the concept of whuffie and applied it within their communities. This concept of regional whuffie is where groups and environments are fostered to bring together people using social media to help spark innovation and new ideas for the community. It’s about leveraging the social capital of a community for the common good of the community. Here’s a link to the links referred to in the panel.

Looking at the projects section you’ll see a lot of links to projects in various cities where this concept of regional whuffie is being put into practice. One of my favorites is, a 21st century version of the original concept developed by Benjamin Franklin in 1721. Just as Franklin pulled together to help debate issues of morals, politics and natural philosphy to improve the city of Philadelphia the new era junto is focused on the same concepts leveraging new media to help facilitate the discussion. Already this group is making progress by helping save and improve the Philadelphia Free Library, the successor to Franklin’s Library Company commonly known as the first public library in the country.

Granted, social and new media cannot solve all the problems of San Antonio today. But leveraging these technologies can help facilitate deeper discussion and hopefully drive new ideas for consideration as a path to solutions. It’s a noble thought but having a leader who understands the value of using these technologies helps bring the concept along much further. This is new for both Alan and I but with the help of others in the community we feel we can move forward with progress.

More to come as this develops.

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