Is Personal Democracy Forum for Me?

| MSFT Chicago Staff

Conferences like Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) may be attended by tech and civic leaders, but with live-streaming technology and Twitter, we were pleased to see many people joining in from outside the conference. That had us wondering — is PDF just for those in the tech and civic  industries?
Our answer?: No way.

In a blur of powerful speeches, breakout sessions, cat photos, and leaders coming together, today’s PDF session showed what civic technology is all about: a variety of people approaching a variety of civic issues with a variety of solutions. And that means a variety of people — not just industry workers.

From public engagement to civic design to issues with big data, today’s speakers addressed pathways we can carve together to bring our communities closer and forward in technology. Xavier Leonard of the City of San Diego’s Civic Innovation Lab motivated us to hack government engagement as citizens. Jess Kutch of told us the story of a Starbucks employee who showed the company that employee engagement is beyond valuable. Deanna Zandt made us feel “all the feelz” as she showed how vulnerability and a lack of transparency on social media combine to make us misrepresent ourselves. And Dante Berry showed us how the same social media channels can be used as a catalyst for direct, community-based social change.

Today’s breakout sessions included discussions of “what’s next” in technology, brainstorming sessions, and direct conversations about the future of our communities. And these are tasks we are partaking in as citizens, not just as tech workers. We’re helping issues that affect our neighbors, our family, and our government — issues that we can work on with our neighbors, our family, and our government.

This year’s PDF is for everyone. And we want you to join us. Although registration is now closed, the conference isn’t — PDF is staying online to keep the discussion open and encourage others to help make a difference.

Follow along tomorrow as they wrap up the good work. Civic Hall is hosting a livestream here, and we’re all tweeting along using #PDF15.

See the full Personal Democracy Forum agenda here.


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