Part II: Commission Findings and Recommended Strategies
Recommendation 12: Engage young people in developing the digital information and communication capacities of local communities.
Media habits of Americans vary greatly with age. Younger Americans, especially if relatively well-off, tend to integrate advanced information and communication technologies into their daily lives in ways that seem largely alien to their elders. To be an innovator in the social uses of digital media, it helps to have had early and lifelong experience. At the same time, many technologically savvy young people have little connection to the ideas and challenges of local democracy. This uneven distribution of knowledge across the generations actually creates a unique opportunity.
Imagine a “Geek Corps for Local Democracy” where, as a post-college opportunity, American youth volunteer to help connect a physical community to the networked infrastructure. Imagine a “Geek Corps for Local Democracy” where, as a post-college opportunity, American youth volunteer to help connect a physical community to the networked infrastructure. They would be assigned to diverse communities to help local government officials, librarians, police, teachers, and other community leaders leverage networked technology. Geek Corps participants would teach community members how to use technology. They would help local leaders to understand technological shifts and how they can leverage new technologies for community practices. Participants from all the communities involved would be connected into a national network of participants to share best practices, develop collectively usable code, and build a network of information systems for local democracy.
The Report of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy