Monday, September 10, 2007

Does the Internet Facilitate Democracy?

Well... In my humble opinion yes, and no.

All the buzz in the blogosphere of late about unfair funding practices for elections shows that technology helps people do 2 things: 1. access previously unaccessible information and 2. talk about it with each other. Since access to information and dialog are essential for a working democracy, technology does make a difference, does help citizens create a more democratic society.

but on the other hand, who owns the technological infrastructure anyway? Large corporate interests. And technology is only as good as the coding behind it. In the book CODE, Lawrence Lessig reminds us that if corporate and government interests want to code Internet software for commercial gain, then they will. And coding for commercial gain is often at odds with coding for the citizenry to engage in democratic dialog. Besides, judging by the results of the last US election, fear is a much more powerful motivator than rational dialog and access to information when it comes to making an important decision like who to nominate King for four years.

So technology has the potential to aid democracy, but only people can live up to the potential. Back to square one?

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home