I would suggest that the towns are already using social media.
A society, although organic and susceptible to memes, it doesn’t really have directed cognitive abilities. Sure, it can take advantage of the wisdom of crowds but more than not will be distracted by mob-thought.
You only have to log onto FaceBook or some of it’s cousins to see this in action. Countries, Counties, Provinces, Towns and Villages all have their niches carved out. There may not be an accurate representation of the demographics but then the areas they can affect will most likely be those served by that demographic. So that’s fine for the net-heads who find the community but not so good for those people who don’t have internet access or the ability to find or navigate these forums. We start to create a very real digital divide where policy becomes made by the “haves” and the “have nots” lose out. Yes, that’s how the world works now – so I see no need to provide another barrier to entry.
Should the social media be formalised?
Oh, that’s a hot question. Considering the vocal demographics in Northern Ireland I think it would open a whole can of worms and require constant moderation. The discussion of seemingly simple social issues has already met some resistance and an online forum to deal with this would be subject to much the same – except of course that seemingly normal people seem to think it’s okay to act bat guano crazy just because it’s the Internet.
Don’t believe me? This is tragic and someone should go to jail.
Social media and the read/write web may be dangerous so how do we control the guano-heads out there and stop them from messing it up for everyone?
It’s simple. We can’t.