I’m grateful to Kimse Yok Mu for inviting me to present this paper at the 2015 International Conference on Social Media for Good in Istanbul. Special thanks to David Orban and Chris Worman, and to Digital Impact for giving visibility to this topic.
Local Communities and Socialized Citizens
The Role of Social Networks in Sustainable Urban Development
This paper presents the need for a distributed social networking model for civil society organizations (CSOs) and advances the role of metanetworks in implementing it. Distributed communication would help to facilitate urban development through civic engagement and participation, and cross-sector collaborations. The aim is not to prescribe a methodology for employing an alternative to centralized social networking, but rather to convey the importance and viability of distributed communication. Here, “CSO” refers to both civil society organizations and community-based organizations. CSOs can use this conceptual framework as they communicate and connect with other organizations. I begin with an overview of global urbanization as it relates to current social sector initiatives. I present mobile technology as a medium for connecting local communities and CSOs, and explain why centralized social networks are insufficient. To illustrate the potential for a robust social ecosystem within a distributed framework, I give hypothetical examples using existing initiatives, considering participation incentives and the role of metanetworks. Finally, I recommend next steps for implementation.