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What Does " Civil Society" Mean in 2010? 2050?

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, November 5 2010

Gathered today at the World Bank in DC are people interested in figuring out what "civil society" -- that swath of human life that exists apart from, or at least complementary to, what governments do and what markets demand -- means in our increasingly networked age. The event is called "Tech@State: Civil Society 2.o," and its part of the U.S. State Department's* efforts to see the challenges of development and diplomacy through a tech-aware lens.

Speaking of lens, through the miracle that is live-streaming video, you can watch the days proceedings online here. Today is the "unconference" portion of the two day affair, so things might be a bit messy. But it's a chance to catch a glimpse of what the State Department and its colleagues are talking about when they talk about digital diplomacy for this century. Working with State on this conference project is the World Bank's Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

Part of what's up for discussion at today's session, which runs until 4 p.m. EST, is what does a tech-powered flourishing of human collaboration outside the traditional structures of the state and of business mean when there exists very many people on the planet who can't, say, watch live-streaming video on the web whenever they might like to. The very concept of Civil Society 2.0, argues State, carries with it an awareness of the "resource gaps for organizations on the ground," and how that informs any creative thinking in this space.

Go ahead and give it a watch, and/or dive into the Twitter stream for the day's event.

And more: O'Reilly's Alex Howard points out video archives exist of yesterday's Tech@State sessions, and you can go watch them here.