Is AOL-Huffington Post making a gov 2.0 play?

Huffington Post Media Group, owned by AOL, announced it has purchased civic platform Localocracy for “under $1 million,” according to AllThingsD.

According to the site, founded in 2009, Localocracy is an “online town common where registered voters using real names can weigh in on local issues.” It appears the platform is no longer accessible, but the press release announcing the acquisition gives some insight into how it might be integrated into Huffington Post:

At HPMG, founders White-Sullivan and Soules will build on their innovative approach to enhancing local democracy while leveraging HPMG’s powerful online community platform to engage its large and networked audience. Also joining the Group from Localocracy is Jay Boice, who will be instrumental in building new technologies to support enhanced online community interaction.

The Localocracy purchase may be the first sign that AOL and Huffington Post are eying government 2.0 technologies to build on their ecosystem of active users and leverage content in new ways to engage them in a more civic-minded manner.

Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington discussed government 2.0 at FedScoop’s FedTalks 2010 (video below), where she emphasized local and the power of civic technology. It’s clear from her talk she’s interested in and gets transparency, open government and the concept of government as a platform.

At FedTalks, Huffington praised crowdsourcing 311 platform SeeClickFix, and late last year, her site honored founder Ben Berkowitz as a Greatest Person of the Day. Given the Localocracy acquisition and Huffington’s interest in this area, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if SeeClickFix is next on her list. SeeClickFix’s focus on local and social, providing technology that leverages the crowd to help government prioritize service requests, make it a natural fit for Huffington Post (or perhaps even AOL’s hyper-local news platform Patch, as O’Reilly Media’s Alex Howard suggested related to the Localocracy acquisition).

From her FedTalks speech:

“As I found myself pessimistic, like many of us, about the crisis and the confidence, about the crisis in government, about the demonization of government, I look around and see the incredible unleashing of creativity, innovation and caring, and that’s where I see the promise, and that’s where I see the hope.”

For those watching for the new new thing in gov 2.0, AOL and Huffington Post might just be it.

Video:

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He is also co-founder and CEO of ProudCity. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at luke@govfresh.com.

5 Responses

  1. Mike

    With only about 6 communities in Massachusetts, and
    at a price of less than $1M,
    it seems like AOL is largely buying Localocracy
    to obtain its team.

    Several other companies — including Peak Democracy Inc’s
    Open Town Hall online public comment forums
    ( http://www.OpenTownHall.com )
    have been far more successful than Localocracy.

  2. This is from their August 18 blog post:

    “The biggest change is that Localocracy is moving from being a “Online Town Common” that existed in many places on our own, to powering a platform for community based questions and answers for news organizations. This means we’ll be expanding the type of questions that have been asked on the site, and the priorities will move towards identifying the best answers, whether those come from community members or reporters.”

    http://localocracy.posterous.com/the-new-localocracy-lessons-learned-from-the

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