Grass-roots activists increasingly use online petitions to promote local causes [washingtonpost.com]
Since the Internet’s early days, optimists have predicted that the technology would be a huge plus for democracy by dramatically expanding opportunities for direct engagement with the public.
Now, part of that dream is being fulfilled. Grass-roots activists in our region (and elsewhere) are increasingly using online petitions as a fast, effective way to recruit supporters and pressure authorities.
The Web appeals promote all kinds of causes, from the high-minded to the mundane, and the trend is toward local campaigns. Ordinary citizens are finding such petitions especially valuable in pushing issues that otherwise might escape public attention.
One such advocate is Matt Landon, 21, a surf shop manager in Ocean City. He started an online petition on Change.org in late August to oppose a plan to allow fishermen to drive trucks on the beach during the offseason.
The City Council killed the plan in less than a week as the petition quickly drew more than 900 cyber-signatures.
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