A fascinating report to think on the possibilities of renewing traditional democratic practices through new technologies. As well as, to start to think  on the ways  of how information spreads (and evolves – i.e. gets distorted in the process).  The study itself was object of a politically motivate  controversy that serves as exemplar of the last point. The research was single out with displeasure by a prominent right wing politician and used as an example of the waste of  federal research grants given by the NSA. The series of events that followed shows how political motivate rhetoric attempts to disregards and distort, through propaganda, the information and  results  of valuable research endeavors (to read more about the controversy click  here).

From Congressional Management Foundation Website:

Online Town Hall Meetings: Exploring Democracy in the 21st Century is a report summarizing the findings and recommendations from an academic study of 21 online town hall meetings between Members of Congress and their constituents which were facilitated by the partners of the Connecting to Congress project. The report is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and contributions from Harvard’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

The report includes information and analysis on:

  • The impact participation in the meetings had on constituents’ views of their Members of Congress and on their participation in political activities, such as talking about politics and the Member and voting;
  • How to conduct effective online town hall meetings;
  • How the demographics of people attracted to the online town halls differed from those attracted by traditional means of political participation; and
  • Details of how we conducted our rigorous study.

    Tor read full report here