Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sun, 01/27/2008 - 12:03.

Everywhere we go, everyone we meet, we look at faces to form an opinion about the feelings behind everyone’s phrenology.   


This is a Darwinian action - our self preservation relies on assigning dangerous - or safe - motives to everyone (everything) with which we come into contact.


Is the person I meet going to stab me?  Rape me?  Panhandle me? Offer me a job? 


We look at faces and make instantaneous determinations.


So when I came to Toronto and felt that there was an entirely different set of civic engagement mores here than in Cleveland, my first thought was “why can’t we develop a facial recognition system/software to quantify civic engagement”  


I tried this idea out on one of the fellows I met at the park.  It was 9:30pm and about 15 degrees.  Dogs were racing around after balls and cuzes while everyone socialized. 


The fellow, David, turned out to be a clinical psychologist.  He thought I was nuts. At first. 

Saturday-night-for-the-dogs.jpg69.23 KB

Some thoughts on civic engagement...

It's complicated...measuring, recognizing, evaluating engagement. From my experience, civic engagement depends on the degree to which we can engage another to trust long enough to be able to get a sense of their willingness and degree of initiative. I find it instructive to challenge people to focus on what they imagine for the near future and their ideas for next steps. But, how do we measure trust? How do we measure willingness? How do we measure initiative? For me, it must be defined and measured by each of us, by what we are able to do over time.

I am a New Englander and not from Cleveland. I think this heritage somehow has an affect on how I react to the/my culture clash when I deplane at Hopkins. Someone once described me as "always running around as if my hair is on fire" - I attribute this to my own sense of urgency about what needs to be improved and how little time we really have.

But online community development such as the good work of so many individuals who contribute to REALNEO, GCBL, BFD, Lakewood Observer is integral to helping put out that fire in many small ways, which cumulatively will make large scale change and affect regional culture. Continuing to build local participatory culture and online communities is integral to sustain those valuable face to face opportunities to build trusted, open networks for regional prosperity. We must all continue to work together, to civically engage.

You have definitely brought up a technology innovation opportunity!

Join the club

Betsy, welcome to the REAL Northeast Ohio!

If I could wish for any thing, it would be to have online engagement from our representatives.  To hear them in cyberspace, explain their inner selves.   A lot of people run away from the intimate exposure and expect it to go away, but I am afraid they are wrong.