May 2009 E-Democracy News – From the Executive Director

E-Democracy News


 May 2009 

Volume 1, Issue 5 


From the Executive Director

Steve Clift Executive Director

One Million Page Views, New Leaders and more
As new participants and communities have joined us over the last three years – we’ve grown from five issues forums in five communities to 25 forums across 15 communities – so has the use of our Website. According to our friends at OnlineGroups.Net our site topped one million page views over the last year. Comparing the last three months with the prior year, visits are up 40 percent. Stock market down, local democracy up!

Another numeric tidbit of interest – we’ve stuck to our guns and said, “We must use a system that allows people to publish via e-mail in order to be truly participatory and democratic.” Across our network, while Web-based participation use continues to increase, 65 percent of all posts are still contributed via e-mail. According to Jakob Neilsen, the usual rate for content contributors versus content users is 1% to 9%.


So for those of you wondering why our forums are perhaps twice as effective at fighting “participation inequality” with 15-20% of registered participants posting at least once in a month on our most active forums, we believe that “location, location, location” (the e-mail box) empowers regular people to publish when they can simply press “reply-to-all” to participate in public life online.


New Board Members, New Board Chair
Congratulations to David Woolley on his election as E-Democracy.Org’s new Board Chair and Anne Carroll for assuming the Vice Chair position. I jumped ship earlier this year and have now been given the title Executive Director. Moving on from the Board last year was Mick Souder (co-founder and former Vice Chair) and Sheldon Mains. Combined, they served over two decades on the E-Democracy.Org Board of Directors. Thank you. The Board is responsible for our strategic plan and meet monthly by telephone from four time zones currently – 2 p.m. in Minnesota; 3 p.m. in Washington, DC; and Hamilton, Ontario; 8 p.m. in the UK; and 9 p.m. in Paris. If we add a board member from New Zealand, that’s 7 a.m. or 9 a.m. the next morning for them.

Joining the Board in recent months are:

* David Erickson – Director of e-Strategy, Tunheim Partners’ Internet marketing practice and host of the e-Strategy Internet Marketing Blog. David lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

* Matt Leighninger – Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC), Senior Associate at Everyday Democracy (formerly the Study Circles Resource Center), and author of The Next Form of Democracy: How Expert Rule is Giving Way to Shared Governance – and Why Politics Will Never Be the Same. Matt lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

* Mary Reid – Local elected councillor, Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, England, former Chair of the UK Local e-Democracy National Project, and Vice Chair of the former International Centre of Excellence for Local e-Democracy.

A full list of Board members with biographies is available.

Thank You Notes
* Survey Participants – You can still add your two cents about what you’d like donations to E-Democracy.Org to support. These are tough economic times, so the future of our support of local democracy is literally in your hands. We don’t expect many grants in the coming year, so volunteers and scraping by will be the order of the day. We seek to supply the online civic engagement that provides real value to our participants and communities.

* Logo and Website Design – Sassafras Creative of Los Angeles is donating their skills to help us develop a logo for E-Democracy.Org and design ideas to upgrade our dated look on the Web. After 15 years, I guess we finally need a logo. We are also working with volunteers Simon Bohlin and Miles Fidelman to leverage our Ashoka Technical Assistance Grant for GroupServer technology enhancements with our long-time associates, OnlineGroups.Net based in New Zealand. Stay tuned for a fresh look.

Meet Me in New York – Personal Democracy Forum 2009 Conference
If you are planning to attend the stellar Personal Democracy Forum conference in New York City at the very end of June. Drop me a note so we can connect:

Until next month,


Steven Clift
Founder and Executive Director, E-Democracy.Org

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