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Social Media and Participatory Democracy

Public Notice and the World Wide Web

Shannon Martin E.

Public notices are usually provided in the form of a document when something is about to be done or recently has been done by government. For about two hundred years these notices have often taken the form of legal notices placed as classified ads in newspapers.
With the onset of social media, government as well as personal information can be accessed at a push of a button for all to see. This book addresses the kinds of changes that public notice and published public records have experienced as governments around the world try to accommodate the digital formats for information and World Wide Web publishing, as well as presenting historical and legal underpinnings for the broader claim of a public requirement to be informed about government.
While there is concern that government information on the web will fall pray to pranks and misuse, the author argues that it is possible to reduce this risk by looking carefully at the intent of public notice and the history of democratic evolution. The book concludes with recommendations for smoothing the transition from a paper-based world of records to an environment of speed and virtual portability.


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This book is the product of many helpful people. I am grateful to the librarians and staff of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan for providing Reese Fellowship support, and to the librarians and staff at the University of Michigan and Indiana University law libraries for their help in pointing me in the direction of their wonderful resources. Librarians have long been among my favorite people, and these particular members of that community are exemplary. I also thank Mary Savigar at Peter Lang Publishing for encouraging me to begin this research project and for guiding me through the acquisition process. David Copeland at Elon University, Charles Davis, now at the University of Georgia, and Kathleen Hansen at the University of Minnesota all wrote support letters so that I had a chance at the Clements Library fellowship. Thanks go to my research assistant, Rachelle Pavelko, for her thorough copyediting. As always, I thank my patient husband, Edwin Martin, for his attention and kindness as I buried myself in this research and writing when I probably should have been attending to other aspects of our lives. Similarly, my sister and her husband, my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren gener- ously released me from familial duties with grace and good cheer so that xii social media and participatory democracy I could work on this project. I also thank my parents, Mary and Robert Ros- si, for initially bringing this topic to my attention when I began my doctoral program two...

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