I’m off to Lausanne tomorrow, arriving a little late for the start of ePart10 – I’ll be presenting a paper Noella Edelmann and I have written on signing an E-Petition as a transition from lurking to participation.
The approach I’m thinking of taking is to describe the challenges that lurkers present to us as e-participation researchers, and to the democratic process in general: is being ‘a face in a crowd’ at a political demonstration a bad thing? (no) and is it similar to lurking online? (yes). After all, just spending time at a demonstration or following a political topic is still a commitment. Therefore lurkers are interesting to us in their own right, and should not be negatively portrayed. Lurkers are better than ignorers after all.
We can’t expect everyone to be an activist (the 90-9-1 rule); but if we can understand their motivations to lurk, and what could motivate people to start taking (online/offline) action by the simple act of signing a petition that’s even better, broadening the pool of available activists.
There’s already a huge body or research into the psychology of online participation – all we’ve tried to do here is link them to one specific e-participation technology, and suggest some implications for future research.
I hope to post the presentation and a link to the paper once it’s in the public domain.