Tonight! - Why You Should Come to Sunshine and the Social Web

The excitement is really building for our panel discussion tonight, thanks to the culmination of a variety of events happening in Honolulu and around the nation.

First off, Carmille Lim, from the League of Women Voters Hawaii, will be joining us to provide her experience and fluency in social media and political activism. Civil Beat's Deputy Editor, Patti Epler who was originally set to join us, but will instead be following the GOP caucuses here in Hawaii. In following with the spirit of the evening, she's also asked community members to contribute to the fact gathering for Civil Beat's reports on the caucuses (more info at the link.)

Second, R. Elton Johnson III wrote a great editorial in the Star Advertiser today entitled, Government needs to shine a brighter light on the public's business. It's behind the paywall, but is an excellent report on state legislation and certainly worth reading. In particular, it's a reminder of what sunshine is all about,. He wrote:

The goal of sunshine with respect to public agency meetings in our state government is articulated pretty well at the first section of Hawaii's Sunshine Law (Hawaii Revised Statues Chapter 92): "In a democracy, the people are vested with the ultimate decision-making power. Governmental agencies exist to aid the people in the formation and conduct of public policy. Opening up the governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public's interest."

Third, in addition to this week being Sunshine Week, it is the first week of the annual South by Southwest music, film, and interactive conference and festival in Austin, Texas. Our Twitter feed has exploded with the #sxsw hashtag and brilliant quotes, ideas and innovations worth sharing. Jennifer Pahlka, of Code for America, wooed an audience today with lines like:

"We have built an amazing consumer Internet…what we need to do now is build the citizen Internet"

Fourth, Lee Rainie and Aaron Smith of the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a very interesting and timely study yesterday on Social Networking & Politics. From the overview of the study, they wrote:

“Social networking sites have become places where political conversation, debate, and proselytizing occur, especially during campaign seasons. These new arenas of political discussion have drawn attention among political activists and have been a major focus of activity particularly since the campaign of Barack Obama aggressively embraced them in the 2008 presidential campaign. At the same time, some analysts have expressed concerns about the impact of social networking sites on the broad political culture.”

Last, not that you needed much more than that to remind you of how awesome this Sunshine Week is shaping up to be, but if you look outside you window in Honolulu right now, you'll also recognize the return of that bright star over our islands. Hope to see you tonight at the GreenHouse!