Professors are obliged to set regular weekly office hours, something most students today find rather quaint. It’s often a time to catch up on email or chat with colleagues, awaiting clients that never arrive. During one such recent occasion, a colleague was bemoaning this loss of real-time interaction, noting that the Internet’s efficiency in sharing does not extend to a capacity for meaningfully conversing.
While a new political tone nationally can surely help, looking to Ottawa to lead such an effort is unrealistic: public imagination and local experimentation are the keys to cultivating democratic and discursive renewal. Less shackled by formal partisan structures, local councils are experimenting with new ways to both connect elected officials and the public and create new dialogue.