This afternoon, Code for America announced that civic engagement platform Change by Us is launching in Philadelphia and into the Civic Commons, where it has been open sourced. Philadelphia residents (and all other interested parties) can check it out now at Philly.ChangeBy.us. As someone who spent the bulk of childhood in Philadelphia, this is great to see.
Abhi Nemani, at Code for America, highlighted the significance of the move over at the nonprofit’s blog, where he wrote that this is an important step forward for the reuse of civic software in the country:
the civic engagement platform initially deployed in New York is now available for any city to use under a free open source license. Change By Us’s reuse shows the opportunity for shared civic software.
He’s spot on. A short video about Change By Us is embedded below. Source code and instructions for installation of Change By Us are available for download on Github.
Change by Us Philadelphia from Change by Us on Vimeo.
Lock Haven University professor Rey Junco has published new findings that time spent on on Facebook is positively related to involvement in campus activities.
In an upcoming paper on Facebook engagement, Junco shares the results of research relating Facebook usage and activities to outcomes.
Using hierarchical linear regression (N = 2,368) with gender, ethnicity, and parental education level as control variables, I found that time spent on Facebook was a significant positive predictor of time spent in campus activities.
Although time spent on Facebook was a significant positive predictor, it wasn’t the strongest predictor of time spent in campus activities. In fact, it was the weakest predictor. The strongest positive predictors, in order of strength (with strongest first), were:
1. Creating or RSVPing to events on Facebook
3. Viewing Photos
4. Average time spent on Facebook per day
There were also negative predictors of time spent in campus activities. In order of strength, they were:
1. Posting photos
2. Checking up on friends (or what students call “stalking,” “creeping,” or “lurking”)
3. Playing games on Facebook
It’s an interesting data point, although it’s just part of a larger body of work that’s giving us insight into how our our offline lives are connected to our online lives. The new research does provide a specific example of how the Internet as a platform for collective action could be extended to local government by citizens that are active on social networks, in terms of awareness of town halls, public hearings on notices or, this time of year, ice cream socials.