Aspen Institute FOCAS Seminar to Explore the Impact of Technology on Communities and Citizenship

July 29, 2011

Contact: Erin Silliman, Aspen Institute, (202) 841-4968

Washington, DC, July 29, 2011 – Leaders and experts from the public, private, and academic sectors will explore the growing impact of network technologies on communities and citizenship at a roundtable discussion August 2-4 in Aspen, Colorado.  Streamed live at

The annual Forum on Communications and Society (FOCAS), a project of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, explores how public policy and private initiatives can better serve communities. Participants of this year’s FOCAS, titled Networks and Citizenship, will address the changing roles of citizens and governments in the digital age.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the forum’s senior sponsor, is providing $200,000 in support for the event.

“The advent of digital information and communications technologies has led to the disruption of numerous industries, from music and newspapers to manufacturing and services,” says Charlie Firestone, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program. “The premise of the 2011 FOCAS is that the digital disruption has or will come, as well, to democratic institutions and processes.”

“As a society, we are more connected than ever. The challenge is for local leaders to harness that technology and the innovations in social media to better inform and engage communities,” said Michael Maness, vice president for media innovation and journalism at Knight Foundation, whose Technology for Engagement Initiative funds ideas that use digital tools to help people take action in their communities.

Participants of this year’s FOCAS will include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Gannett CEO Craig Dubow, PBS President Paula Kerger, Personal Democracy Forum founder Andrew Rasiej, and White House Internet policy adviser Daniel Weitzner.

Networks and Citizenship will mark the sixth year that FOCAS includes an interactive web experience, thanks to generous funding from Knight Foundation. Networks and Citizenship will be streaming live at at 8:45 a.m. mountain time August 2-4. Viewers are invited to follow the discussion on twitter @AspenInstitute and @AspenCS and to tweet about the event using #FOCAS11.

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.


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