Digital Town Halls
Public participation in cyberspace.
By James L. Sipes, ASLA
Traditionally, town hall meetings were where voters gathered to
debate issues and make decisions related to their communities. This
exchange of ideas in the hope of reaching consensus has been an
integral part of our democratic process for centuries. Today there
is a new generation of "digital" town halls that use web-based communication
technologies to encourage public participation. Web sites such as
DENIX's Town Hall Forum and Democracy.net are typical of these new
digital town halls; they offer real-time, interactive chat features
and host live, interactive cybercasts of congressional hearings,
local park board meetings, city council meetings, and election debates.
Landscape architects and other design professionals are also finding that these web-based tools can help encourage increased public participation in the design and planning process.
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