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When the internet first got kicking, some scholars of democracy and civil society thought that online discussions could create what they called a "conversational democracy”: an ongoing town hall without bricks and mortar.

How to understand "kicking" in the context above? I learned from OED that

(informal) full of life and excitement: The club was really kicking last night.

Does it have the same meaning here?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Its use here is more along the lines of this entry from NOAD:

alive and kicking informal prevalent and very active : bigotry is still alive and kicking.

which, via Etymonline:

"The allusion is to a child in the womb after quickening" [Farmer].

Your OED reference may have the same origin.

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I'd never made the connection to a fetus; I'd always thought of "alive and kicking" as having a connotation of (still!) alive. That old Simple Minds song makes a bit more sense, then: "Stay until your love is / Alive and kicking..." – MT_Head Jun 21 '11 at 10:11

I'd say that would be the proper meaning; with the slight adjustment to mean "had widespread activity" in this particular case.

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