Computer Networking as a Vehicle for Citizen Participation: A Case Study of the White House Conference on Productivity
In The Network Nation, the possibility of dispersed citizens using computer mediated communication to discuss matters of political policy and to formulate recommendations or coordination political action was discussed. In the Spring of 1983 such a scenario was enacted. At that time, the American Productivity Center (APC) in Houston, Texas, organized and coordinated and effort to use EIES (the Electronic Information Exchange System) as a means of formulating private sector recommendations for improving productivity in the U.S., to be presented at the White House Conference on Productivity the following fall. About 200 people worked together in seven different task groups to produce the recommendations. This is a report on the computer conferences and on the reactions of the participants to theier experiences. The data presented here were gathered through participant observation in one of the working groups, (including attendance at the meetings in Houston and Pittsburgh); by the use of the Survey system on EIES to administer and online survey to the participants; and by use of a conference analysis program on EIES which counts amount of participation by each member of a conference.