Session 1, Introduction, Political Systems


  • Introductions
  • Syllabus review
  • Guest speaker: Anita on UW Election Eye
  • Fact-checking
  • Political systems and government agencies
  • Discuss: class projects
  • Sign-up: discussion leader sessions


Notes from webinar:
  • How to find facts to check: when you hear a claim and think, “is that really true?” Kathy’s rule of thumb: if it sounds too good or too bad to be true, it usually isn’t!
  • Choose factual claim, not statement of opinion
  • Where to look for claims: Twitter, Facebook, website, YouTube/ad, news reports on speeches, talk show hosts, advocacy groups
  • When writing about the claim, (1) make it clear what you are checking; (2) ask the source of the claim for their source; (3) try to find impartial/non-partisan expert; (4) find original sources; (5) write clearly in active tense. Note: FCWa needs a “meter”
  • Consider creating a report card by issue or person

Political systems

Class projects

For next time

  • Who is leading discussion [see TypeWith.Me document]
    • July 14: Dora, Eric
    • July 28: Amber, Linda
    • August 11: Joe, Mariana
  • First draft of personal learning contract : to Kathy by Tuesday via email – include ideas for UW Election Eye, ideas for FactCheckWa, critical thought (book or course readings) – will revisit July 14
  • Before July 14: Look at other fact check sites (see our Resources page) … follow the Twitter hashtag #waelex … make sure you can log into this site
  • Kathy’s tasks: get Linda on the distribution list, set up private blog for UWEE drafts and brainstorming, itemize possible FCWa tasks

Discussion July 14 will pick up where we left off – we’ll talk about social media and political action (Gladwell) and we’ll revisit the tracking/privacy issue.


  • Public Disclosure Commission
  • Secretary of State
  • Federal Elections Commission
  • Federal Communications Commission

Discuss role of digital media in political activism:

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  1. I wanted to ‘way in’ on Gladwell’s article in The New Yorker. I my view, his thinking is old school and I do not follow his antiquated thought process. How can one compare the civil rights movement (a journey of decades) to the very rapid changes in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt for example. Part of the problem is that Gladwell wrote his article in October of 2010, right before the Arab Spring. So the article missed the most important use of social media for political change!

    The most important contribution that social media brings to political change is speed and scope. Social media is instantaneous and it gets the message out to a wide audience.

    If social media would have been force in the 60s, I think the civil rights movement would have happened quicker and with less resistance.

    One final thought: Before Gladwell comments on social media, he might want to think about trying social media out for himself. The guy hasn’t tweeted since April 2010!

    Joe Howell
    Cohort 12

  1. Comments on Gladwell article. « UW Digital Democracy

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