Science and Technology Innovation Program

The Future of American Citizen Engagement

Roundtable Discussion about Meetup.com and other Internet Organizing Trends

Dec 09, 2004

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars announced today that it will host a series of meetings designed to foster greater public dialogue on key issues facing Americans through the application of new technologies. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 14, 2004, from 1 – 3 p.m. in the 5th Floor Conference Room at the Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. The event is open to the public. A photo ID is required for entry. Click here to RSVP.

Officials from the government, NGOs, and the private sector will join Meetup.com CEO Scott Heifferman and Senior Political Advisor Don Means to discuss possible applications of its popular Internet-based, community-building tool for public policy. Meetup.com will also formally announce former U.S. Senator and New York Knick Bill Bradley has joined its Board of Directors.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Center's Project on Foresight & Governance and Meetup.com, an online organization for people to organize local community groups around their causes and interests.

The effort will host representatives from the Department of State, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, RAND, National Academy of Public Administration, and others. This event is part of the Center's larger effort to examine how emerging technologies are changing social interactions. The Center intends to capitalize on the impact that Internet-based community organizing-tools had on the 2004 Presidential Election.

Lee Hamilton, President and Director of the Wilson Center, remarked that, "Increasingly our citizens feel disconnected from their own government. Tools like Meetup offer new opportunities for civic participation and increased dialogue while serving to empower the individual."

David Rejeski, Director of the Foresight & Governance Project at the Center, noted that "increased interconnectivity and new capabilities offered by cell phones, instant messaging, video games, and other technologies are changing the nature of social interaction. The public sector needs to understand these changes and what they mean for governance strategies."

Bill Bradley said, "Meetup is a force for building face to face community in America at a time when it is more and more important to see what we have in common as Americans and human beings."

Scott Heiferman, CEO of Meetup.com, proclaimed "In the past year, more Americans than ever voted and became involved in the process at a grassroots level. Meetup.com is proud to have helped Americans organize over 25,000 political 'Meetups' across the political spectrum during the campaign season. This is the very beginning of a new era. People will have unprecedented power to organize and become active participants in democracy."

Meetup (http://www.meetup.com) is how people organize local community groups and meetings around any cause or interest. Over 1.5 million people are registered for Meetup Groups on over 5,000 topics and interests. From Pug lovers to Poker players, Oprah fans to Investors, Spanish speakers to Parents of Autistic children, Meetup Groups meet regularly in cafes, restaurants, living rooms or anywhere else, around the world.

Media planning to cover the event or who would like additional information about the Foresight & Governance Project should contact Sharon McCarter at mccarters@wwic.si.edu or (202) 691-4016.

Related Links

Upcoming Events

The National Plan for Civil Earth Observations

September 04, 2014 // 1:00pm2:30pm

Complexity and the Art of Public Policy

September 12, 2014 // 12:30pm2:00pm

Experts & Staff