Saturday, October 24, 2009

Responsibilities of a Digital Citizen

How to encourage critical thought online

This week I had a great conversation with a small group of leaders in the social media world at Lunch for Good. The topic of conversation was how to encourage critical thought in online conversations. The discussion at my table turned to the role that each of us has as a digital citizen to drive more engaged thinking in our online communities. We came up with the following guidelines:

Travis Murdock - Lunch For Good #2: Sparking Critical Thought from Lunch For Good on Vimeo.

1. Think about what I publish or pass along - Blindly Liking, Thumbing-up, Spamming or ranking information in our feeds needs to change. There is a lot of useful intent found in each online share, but this only works if we do it with thought. Facebook Live Feed and Google Reader 'sort by magic' show that the information stored in our sharing patterns has the potential to help us find more relevant information for our lives. My6Sense does a great job of delivering data that I want, but it relies on a basic level of critical thought when I rate what I read.

2. Disclosure on conflicts of interest - The web of interconnected influencers helps us discover more information, but it also requires that we all elevate our standards a bit to approach those of traditional journalists. At a basic level, as digital citizens, we need to disclose real and perceived conflicts of interest.

3. Use the appropriate tool for the appropriate conversation - 140 characters is great when I'm bounding down the mountain bike trail and I run into a four-point deer, but good digital citizens would move a more serious conversation to another forum when needed. Several online communities are popping up where critical thought and reason are promoted.

4. Be open to opinions that are different - Real-world and online conversations both flourish when we have more tolerance for those with different opinions. Also, we should accept that opinions can change.

What do you think are the responsibilities of a digital citizen? I'd love to hear it.

(Disclosure: Lunch For Good gave me a free sandwich, salad, ginger ale and cookie at the Lunch For Good event mentioned in this post. (Secretly, I took an extra cookie on my way out.))


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