Obama Foundation issues a call for better digital citizenship

In one of its first public statements since its launch, the Obama Foundation is issuing a call to examine the concept of digital citizenship.

Digital engagement and being a good digital citizen were focal points of the Obama Administration — and it appears to be one of the early centers of interest for the former president in his private function as a global citizen.

Speaking earlier this year at the University of Chicago, the President touched on this theme, saying

“[We] now have a situation in which everybody’s listening to people who already agree with them.” People are using social media and the global reach of the Internet to “reinforc[e] their own realities, to the neglect of a common reality that allows us to have a healthy debate and then try to find common ground and actually move solutions forward,” the former president said.

Now, his organization is issuing a call to start the conversation on how to improve our digital demeanors.

In a post to the Foundation’s Medium account, chief digital officer Glenn Otis Brown wrote:

These are big challenges, and the solutions aren’t self-evident. So, where to begin? We figure that the first step is simply to identify the problems and talk about them — openly, together, via the very same channels that, when used without intention and awareness, help create the dysfunction in the first place.

Here are a few simple thought-starters. Respond through our site, share your thoughts on social media with #DigitalCitizen, or create your own original content and share it with us. We’ll update and expand on these over time — feel free to pose your own questions back.

  1. Who’s a model of digital citizenship in your world? Why?
  2. What habits do you want to change about your online life? What practices would you recommend for others? What’s one simple thing you could do to improve your “digital health”?
  3. What people or organizations do you think exemplify digital citizenship when it comes to questions of embracing difference — of thought, identity, or any other variable that you value?

To get things moving, here’s my response to the first question: A person who I think exemplifies online citizenship is Zeynep Tufecki. Zeynep takes care to explain complex technical issues to nontechnical people in an accessible way. She brings both her personal and professional experience to meaty topics of public interest — particularly at the intersection of security, democracy, and technology — without making or taking things personally. She’s an academic with a fierce practical streak. And even when being most emphatic, she does it with a sense of humor and humility.

Your turn. Write to us directly or drop a thought  on the social channel of your choice. Add your voice.