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In recent decades we have witnessed the creation of a communication system that promises unparalleled connectedness. And yet the optimistic dreams of Internet-enabled engagement and empowerment have faded in the face of widespread Internet commercialization. In “Liberating Voices: A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution” (MIT Press, 2008), Douglas Schuler urges us to unleash our collective creativity—social as well as technological—and develop the communication systems that are truly needed.
The book, a collaborative effort involving 85 authors, contains the first version of a “pattern language” containing a collection of 136 “patterns” that are designed to help support citizen engagement and positive social change. Using this approach, Schuler proposes a new model of social change that integrates theory and practice by showing how information and communication (whether face-to-face, broadcast, or Internet-based) can be used to address urgent social and environmental problems collaboratively thus providing an intriguing and informative catalog of contemporary intellectual, social, and technological innovations, a practical manual for citizen activism, and a compelling manifesto for creating a more intelligent, sustainable, and equitable world.
Douglas Schuler is a member of the faculty at The Evergreen State College, former Chair of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), and a founding member of the Seattle Community Network (SCN). He is coeditor of several books, including Shaping the Network Society: The New Role of Civic Society in Cyberspace (MIT Press, 2004) and the author of New Community Networks: Wired for Change. He is the creator of the website www.publicsphereproject.org.