On a mailing list about media education, I got into a discussion about my post, Videoblogging as an antidote to too much TV. I spoke about the interaction that our time in front of computers engenders.

Some people spoke about the interaction that television engenders, whether it be kids yelling out answers to Blue’s Clues, or adults cursing pundits on the Sunday morning political talk shows. One person drew an interesting discussion between interaction and interactivity. He included the examples above as examples of interaction, and also mentioned the intellectual engagement. Yet he reserved the word interactive for iterative exchanges.

This morning, I read through the emails that piled up since last night. So far today, I’ve gone through 87 emails. Two of them I responded to, and three of them resulted in me visiting a website and taking action. Some of the other emails caused me to stop and think and may feed into some sort of action in the future, but weren’t all that interactive.

I think this ties nicely into my blog post yesterday about Keeping Personal Democracy Personal. It seems as if so much of the online political actions is focused on either fundraising, where the only interaction is writing a check, list building, where the only interaction is signing up on a website, or at best, getting people to contact there elected officials to express the view supported by the email blaster. There is almost no interactivity.

To a certain extent, this makes sense. It is a lot of work to develop and maintain a truly interactive online presence. There are many emails to be responded to. Many comments on webpages to process. Yet without this, we are missing the power that online communications can bring. Instead we end up with responses like I received to my blog post:

I am sick and tired of being treated as an internet cash cow. So annoyed that I have absolutely given up giving or responding. Their total lack of interest in anything but money or their own egos leaves me stone cold.

What can we do to promote interactivity?

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