Social media for citizen participation: Report on the Somus project

Pirjo Näkki, Asta Bäck, Teemu Ropponen, Juha Kronqvist, Kari A. Hintikka, Auli Harju, Reeta Pöyhtäri, Petri & Kola

    Research output: Book/ReportReport

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Social media is often considered to be fun and entertaining, but it also has potential for redefining the traditional ways of citizen participation - for example, by enabling more direct, real-time and networked ways to collabo-rate. In the Somus project (Social media for citizens and public sector collaboration) we studied the dynamics of information, knowledge and citizenship in an open and participative media environment. We developed several social media services that enable collaboration between citizens and public agencies. In the Participatory Media case study, high school students and researchers created a photo-based online campaign Climate Worries. In the Immigrant Media case study, we developed a virtual meeting place, Monimos, for internationally minded people in Finland. User communities were involved in the service development using both online and face-to-face methods. The Instant Media sub-project studied the phenomena of the real-time web and self-organizing networks in societal problem solving through several case studies. The possibilities of open public data were studied by arranging an ideas and application competition for citizens and companies. Open knowledge sharing was also supported in the work to open up public sector information sources and publish a guide book for open data. A couple of online services that reuse content from different sources were developed also by the Somus project. Regarding research methodology, the Somus team experimented with and studied ways of conducting aca-demic research openly and transparently, for example by using social media and allocating flexible funding to the Open Research Swarm to execute microtasks. Free online tools were used for team work and communication during the project. While the prospects and possibilities of social media and open collaboration in improving collaboration be-tween citizens and public authorities are attractive, at the same they are challenging and resource-consuming activities. This publication offers ideas, viewpoints and experiences of using social media for participation both in the society and in academic research work. The report reflects the multidisciplinary nature of the project by looking at the phenomenon of citizen participation from the viewpoints of sociology, communication, design and technology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationEspoo
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    Number of pages131
    ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-7721-7
    ISBN (Print)978-951-38-7427-8
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Publications


    • social media
    • social networks
    • citizen participation
    • collaboration
    • self-organization
    • open data
    • co-design
    • open research


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