On Monday I gave testimony before the town licensing authority to complain about a village bar that get a bit too rowdy around closing time. Roaring Harleys, burning rubber, sidewalk arguments … annoying stuff for a quiet little Cape Cod village to endure. That’s besides the point. What is interesting is the way the town has transformed citizen participation through a gradual shift to grassroots media. Letters of complaint — while I mailed one in through the snail system — can now be sent via email, and their receipt acknowledged by email. Neighbors can compare notes via email, exhort others to show up at the actual hearing via email, etc.
The town broadcasts its proceedings over the local cable system, but they also post the footage on their web site. Now, when people come up to me and ask how it went, I can point them at a link and they too can see what was said for and against the issue.
None of this is cutting edge for the average reader of this blog, but the effect it is having of transforming the old local political system from one based on tiny-type notices of hearings in the local papers, and the typical “little old ladies in tennis shoes” showing up in force, to one that expedites communications across all constituents, is, to my thinking, one of the better indications that online media has transcended early adoption and moved solidly to the mainstream.