Edmonton City Centre Airport Social Media Todd Babiak

is social media triggering a citizen engagement renaissance in our cities?

Edmonton Journal columnist Todd Babiak has written an interesting column on the use of social media in the Edmonton City Centre Airport debate. Babiak interviewed Mack Male (@mastermaq) and Jørdan Schrøder (@cleisthenis) and focused on how social media was used by many engaged younger Edmontonians to convince City Councillors to close the ECCA in favour of smarter urban development.

Enough evidence has been collected to show that social media can have powerful advocacy uses, but I’m not convinced that social media alone will succeed in “turning the channel on the old boys’ network.” While the organic nature of social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs allow for the kind of direct interaction and conversation that radio ads and giant billboards could never, the back rooms and cheque books will continue to play a large role in influencing political decisions in our cities. This is a key reason why the types of changes made in Athabasca-Redwater MLA Jeff Johnson‘s Bill 203 municipal campaign finance reform legislation are so desperately needed.

While the ECCA debate was only one example of how the positive merger between social media and citizen engagement is evolving, there are other shining and nascent examples of other emerging citizen groups that taking place in our province, including ChangeCamp, CivicCamp, Better Calgary, and Better Edmonton. Tackling a wide range of issues from smart growth (including Plan It in Calgary) to connecting citizens and government in dialogue (through ChangeCamp), these groups are forming around active citizens who are willing to take a public stand (both in person and online) for the kind of positive change they want to see in their cities and communities.

It is easy to become cynical about traditional politics, grandstanding politicians, and old-style political parties, but I am constantly encouraged by the exciting citizen engagement that is happening on the municipal levels in Alberta’s cities.

Related Link:
Adam Rozenhart: A shifting discourse

Doug Elniski Social Media

books, magazines, and twitter.

I’ve spent the past couple of days having a enjoyable time teaching the basics of social media to members of the book and magazine publishing communities in Edmonton and Calgary. I was impressed at how eager the members of this creative sector are to learn more about social media and online engagement. Most of the participants were already familiar with blogs and social networks like Facebook and YouTube, but many were less familiar with Twitter (even though most had heard about it).

While the publishers and writers naturally maintained a healthy dose of skepticism at the 140-character hyper-blogging network, the participants in the workshops were open minded and curious about Twitter, especially in light of the Iranian election, Doug Elniski, and Bill 44.

My time spent with these community members also allowed me to learn some of the more fascinating details about the saga of the Google Book Settlement.

When I returned to Edmonton yesterday, I was surprised to read blog posts by both Walter Schwabe (@fusedlogic) and Mack Male (@mastermaq) in response to 630CHED host Lesley Primeau’s negative comments about Twitter. I was a little confused by Primeau’s reaction, as I would have thought that her role as a radio host for a station that largely depends on listener interaction (aka callers) would be naturally interested in learning more about social media.

On the political front, DJ Kelly has written a solid blog post about the potential Elniski Effect on elected officials who use Twitter and social media. DJ raises some good questions, including whether the incident will cause political parties to discourage or increase their controls on how elected members interact with citizens online. As Alberta’s governing partisans haven’t reacted well to online social media in the past, I hope that Elniski’s tasteless comment leads to an increased mature and commonsensical approach to social media, rather than a retreat from the medium (until the party spin masters need to launch their new websites in preparation for the next election in three years).

Related link: Alberta Politics Online.

Social Media

a spot-on description of twitter.

“The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what make it so powerful.”

Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain, New York Times, June 15, 2009

Social Media

alberta politics online.

The following post is an attempt to create a central location to track the online and social media presence of MLAs and Provincial Political Parties in Alberta. If you have additions to these lists, please post them in the comment section or email Thanks!
(Last updated on June 19, 2009)

Facebook (description)
Nearly all 83 MLAs have a profile or page on Facebook, but here are the main party leaders: Brian Mason (NDP), Ed Stelmach (PC), David Swann (LIB)

MLA/Party Blogs (description)
Doug Elniski (Edmonton-Calder), Doug Griffiths (Battle River-Wainwright), Dave Hancock (Edmonton-Whitemud), David Swann (Calgary-Mountain View), Wildrose Alliance Blog

Flickr (description)
PC Caucus

Twitter (description)
Cindy Ady (CindyAdyMLA)
Lindsay Blackett (@LindsayBlackett)
Harry Chase (@chasemla)
Jonathan Denis (@jonomla)
Doug Elniski (@elniskimla)
Kyle Fawcett (@kylemla)
Doug Griffiths (@griffmla)
Dave Hancock (@davehancockmla)
Kent Hehr (@calgarybuffalo)
Fred Horne (@FredHorneMLA)
Darshan Kang (@darshankang
Brian Mason (@bmasonndp
Rachel Notley (@rachelnotley)_
Janice Sarich (JaniceSarichMLA)
Ed Stelmach (@premierstelmach)
David Swann (@davidswann)
Dave Taylor (@calgarycurrie)
Alberta Liberals (@albertaliberals)
PC Caucus (@mypcmla)

MLA Websites (click here for 2008 campaign websites)
Cindy Ady (Calgary-Shaw)
Rob Anderson (Airdrie-Chestermere)
Laurie Blakeman (Edmonton-Centre)
Harry Chase (Calgary-Varsity)
Iris Evans (Sherwood Park)
Heather Forsyth (Calgary-Fish Creek)
Dave Hancock (Edmonton-Whitemud)
Kent Hehr (Calgary-Buffalo)
Doug Horner (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert)
Mary Ann Jablonski (Red Deer-North)
Art Johnston (Calgary-Hays)
Darshan Kang (Calgary-McCall)
Ron Liepert (Calgary-West)
Thomas Lukaszuk (Edmonton-Castle Downs)
Brian Mason (Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood)
Rachel Notley (Edmonton-Strathcona)
Verlyn Olson (Wetaskiwin-Camrose)
Bridget Pastoor (Lethbridge-East)
Alison Redford (Calgary-Elbow)
Dave Rodney (Calgary-Lougheed)
Peter Sandhu (Edmonton-Manning)
David Swann (Calgary-Mountain View)
Dave Taylor (Calgary-Currie)

YouTube (description)
Joe Anglin, Green Party Leader, Laurie Blakeman (Edmonton-Centre), Dave Hancock (Edmonton-Whitemud), Doug Griffiths (Battle River-Wainwright), David Swann (Calgary-Mountain View), Dave Taylor (Calgary-Currie), Liberal Caucus, NDvids, PC Caucus, Wildrose Alliance