In his book, Bowling Alone, sociologist Robert Putnam suggests that many members of the post-WWII generation discovered civic engagement at the local bowling alley. The bowling alley was a place where people gathered regularly not simply to play together, but talk about the personal and collective interests of the community, to form social ties and identify common interests. In a classic narrative of cultural decline, Putnam blames television for eroding these strong social ties, resulting in a world where people spent more time isolated in their homes and less time participating in shared activities with the larger community.
But what does civic engagement look like in the age of Facebook, YouTube, and World of Warcraft? All of these new platforms are reconnecting home-based media with larger communities, bridging between our public and private lives. All offer us a way to move from media consumption towards cultural participation. Read more.