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eJournal USA: Cultivating Civil Society 2.0

05 October 2011
Young woman painting Facebook logo on wall mural (AP Images)

Social media sites have been used by civil society to organize social movements, such as the spring 2011 protests in Cairo, Egypt.

Civil society consists of organizations and institutions that help and look after people, their health and their rights. The work of civil society groups complements the efforts of governments and the private sector. Whether the goal is as local as building a new school or as global as stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS, civil society is a vital player and essential partner.

As more and more people around the world have gained access to computers, phones and other mobile communication devices, civil society organizations have kept pace. Civil society is pioneering the use of so-called “connection technologies” (for example, mobile phones, mapping applications and social-networking software) to improve health, promote transparency, advance human rights and uphold justice. Connection technologies are limited only by the ingenuity of their users. Increasingly, civil society groups are using technology in unprecedented ways to carry out their work and expand the sphere in which they operate.

This issue of eJournal USA explores the evolving intersection between civil society and technology and offers examples of how civil society organizations are exploiting technology’s potential to give a voice to the voiceless and homes to the homeless.

Civil Society: The People’s Power
Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Civil society can ensure legitimacy, transparency and accountability at all levels of society and government.

Global Village to Grass Roots: Digital Media’s Civic Potential
Douglas Rushkoff, Media Theorist and Author of Program or Be Programmed
Traditional electronic media created the global village; digital media puts a global spotlight on the local.

New Rules for a New Game: How to Be a Team Player in the Age of New Media
Dan Gillmor, Director, Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, Author of Mediactive and We the Media
In the age of new media, participation is vital.

Sidebar: Fundamentals of Media Literacy

Civil Society 2.0
Katie Dowd, Innovation Adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Civil Society 2.0 initiative helps civil society organizations increase their capabilities.

Connecting Technology and Civil Society: 10 Case Studies
Civil society groups are using connection technologies to manage natural disasters, combat corruption and empower people.


Ushahidi HelpMap


Télécoms Sans Frontières


Zero Rupee Note

The Fair Play Alliance

United States of America



Project Masiluleke
South Africa

Cyber Car of Friendship
Kyrgyz Republic

Proyecto ACCESO Tec
Central and South America

Additional Resources

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)