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Civic Intelligence: If it didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent it

Date & Time:
13:00:00 - 14:30:00,
Friday 13 March, 2009


Civic intelligence as a phenomenon exists. On the other hand, civic intelligence as a concept barely exists.

Civic intelligence in broad terms is the ability of society to anticipate and respond to the challenges it faces. It’s a type of distributed and dynamic collective intelligence that takes different forms in different situations. Civic intelligence is inherently interdisciplinary and strives to bridge several ‘divides’, including theory and practice, and elite and non-elites. While the need for civic intelligence around the world has never been greater, the attention that it receives is sporadic and, quite possibly, inadequate.

Doug Schuler will make two central assertions:

  • The practice of civic intelligence must be improved

  • The development of the concept is necessary for the improvement of the practice

How should the research community conceptualize (and therefore invent) ‘civic intelligence’ so that it addresses the interests and needs of all concerned?

Doug Schuler will present his work thus far and propose directions for future research that seem most relevant and important. In particular, he has developed two models that he is beginning to test. Beyond that he is hoping to hear thoughts on where this should go. What research questions should be raised? And how should they be addressed?

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  • Name: Doug Schuler
  • Affiliation: Evergreen State College, former chair of Computer Professionals for Social
    Responsibility (CPSR) and a founding member of the Seattle Community Network
  • Role:
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  • Bio: Doug Schuler has been working on the borderlines of society and technology for over 20 years. He has written and co-edited several books, including most recently Liberating Voices: A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution (MIT Press, 2008), a civic intelligence undertaking with 85 contributors. He was a founder of the Seattle Community Network, an early, free public-access computer network and the Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing symposium series sponsored by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. He teaches at The Evergreen State College, a non-traditional liberal arts college in Washington State.