eCitizenship Conference: Liveblogging Jose Antonio Vargas


You can find a video of the presentation itself online here.
Find a video of Jose’s other presentation on Citizen Media (not liveblogged) here:

Jose Antonio Vargas

Huffington Post


He began research with Clinton “youtube” video.

“Did you know?” video ( by Karl Fisch has gone through

Facebook has expanded from its formation in 2004 to have 325 million users by November 2009, growth of about 400,000 per day.

Obama for President had facebook pages before even deciding to run for president.

Attended Iowa caucus.  Thanks to facebook/social networking, “it looked like a parent teacher conference in which the students have taken over.”  Transformative experience of watching a 13-year-old using the Barack Obama app on an iPhone, bringing politics into his pocket—local offices, fundraising totals, everything.

Statistics on Obama’s campaign:

  • Kerry’s campaign had 3 million emails; Obama had 13 million
  • Average donation was $80, 3 million donors made 6.5 million donations.
  • 1 million signed up for Obama’s text messaging (This is key; I don’t just text with anybody.  This is very personal.  One of the ten regular people I’m texting with is Obama.  At Obama rally, campaign asked individuals to send their phone numbers as a way to gather information and many did.)
  • My had 2 million individual profiles.  Individuals not only paid for the campaign but worked for the campaign.

And it’s just the beginning. Only 23 percent of the globe’s population is actually on the internet, according to the UN

Saw Google’s realtime map of searches: US and industrialized west were bright, India as well; Africa was not?

Does internet access become something akin to a fundamental right?

All Gore was on House Committee “for the future.”  He was right on two things: global warming and technology.

“Internet is perhaps the greatest source for reestablishing an open communications environment in which the conversation of democracy can flourish.”—Gore

Key word is “Conversation”

Which brings us to “Citizenship”

Per: Merriam-Webster
1: the status of being a citizen
2a: membership in a community
2b: the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community

Tools that we have now mean that it is up to us to figure out what we can do

Students leading the teacher; linear education is disintegrating before our eyes.


Q: Getting away from the silo mentality and encouraging dialogues among groups.  Don’t these things just encourage dialogue among individuals who agree with one another?

A: Actually this is more open.  Not many subscribe to both; but people reading online may go to read documents from the other side.  They would not do this with print journalism.  All the internet does is reflect and amplify human behavior.  I didn’t know I was “liberal” until I moved to Washington; it was interesting to try and figure out where I fit.  People are starting to have conversations to figure out how to get out of these boxes.  Website “The Next Right” ( is the most interesting think tank for where the Republican Party is going.

Q: Is size important?  Will Facebook’s size be its demise?  Will the the LA freeway?

A: Myspace got too big, confusing—LA freeway-like.  Facebook has been successful in adapting, modifying.  Facebook Peace is there to encourage dialogue across, but do not have people engaged.

Q: People get wrapped up in electronic devices.

A: No such thing as online v. offline.  Same as with old and new media.  I am still figuring out what works for me and what does not work for me.  Not until 8 months ago did I figure out that twitter has value for what I do, but now I can use them to curate the information.  Technology is about connection.  Here we see it as communication.  In other countries—Russia, Iran, China—these are tools of rebellion.  What happens when more countries get this.

Q: Impact of For-Profit enterprises on engagement.  Does the internet let us challenge these things or is it potentially just a tool?

A: I think it is inherently democratic because of the low barriers to entry.  You used to be beholden to relying on corporate media, get in touch with you, read the press release, fit 30 minute thought into 30 second sound byte.  That’s not how the economy of the web works.

Q: Facebook, others seem so limited in what people are thinking; saying.  How do we have a meaningful conversation with such small limits:

A: It depends on what you are reading, doing online.  Has been emailing his father directly to show him what is possible.  Loves wikipedia to think about how people change wikipedia pages to think about .  Google Wave and video/text integration.

Q: When we’re talking about the digital divide and eCitizenship, aren’t we skewing our politics toward the middle class?

A: Yes. But I think that’s changing.  Went to a housing project in South Carolina to figure out how she could get online.  Clearly digital divide exists.  What we are seeing is schools, public places, especially libraries, make this a much more accessible thing.  Adoptive mom works at a community college and is fascinated about how individuals gather resources to buy computers.  Twitter is moving in broader direction.  Nonprofit groups are moving in that direction.

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