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February 7, 2006

Web 2.0, Participation and E-democracy

Will Web 2.0 facilitate Democracy 2.0? [Link]

The participation sector has spawned a large amount of research, methodology, and consulting services, but remarkably little new thinking about how to get better results from consultation and participation exercises. In the late 90’s, the Internet and related technologies were seen as a potential solution to these problems, but the majority of early e-government and e-democracy initiatives have been little more than old thinking disseminated using new media. However, the outlines of a new approach are beginning to take shape that draws on recent thinking in online social networks and the emerging culture of the World Wide Web to offer some lessons for the future.

Posted by Jon Lebkowsky at February 7, 2006 11:31 AM


It is possible, Jon. I already see it happening: the Muslim cartoon affair, for instance, did bring, in some cases, everyday Muslims and westerners talking. Some went so far as to say the media propagated stereotypes. My concern is this: if one new blog is started every second and the rate is increasing, that’s only a bit more than a million a year (if I worked that out correctly). It will take some time for citizen media to spread widely; even today I am still asked what a blog is.

Posted by: Jack Yan at February 11, 2006 10:47 PM


I've posted an open proposal for the creation of what can best be described as a universal exchange of ideas. I hope you'll find it a novel contribution to the evolution of democracy.

If social networking technology is the "circuitry" of Democracy 2.0, then what will serve as its "CPU?" This is the idea behind it all.

Here's a scenario describing how it could be utilized by an Internet-enabled citizenry (or any population with common-cause, for that matter).

Let me know what you think.

Posted by: mykljonzun at April 4, 2006 5:37 PM

As I see it, the root of the problem is that politics is about making decisions, about choosing between this option & that one & then implementing it, whereas Web 2.0 is about choice, about the multiplicity of ideas, about me choosing my way & you choosing your way. Sometimes we can leverage the aggregate power of all those individual choices into making an emergent "decision", but it's still not binding on anybody who doesn't agree with the majority.

If we ever want to make emergent democracy a reality, this is the problem we have to tackle - how do we make decisions in a distributed, decentralized, network-based environment?


Posted by: scalefree [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 11, 2006 6:09 PM

I definitely agree, Tim. Decision-making is a (or the) key challenge in any democratic system.

Posted by: Jon Lebkowsky [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 13, 2006 7:18 AM

Good to see that the project persists. I just wanted to run past possibly interested interlocutors my thoughts on the implementation of an extreme model of public policy formation that is facilitated by electronic communications. From historical research on American socio-political movements embodying radical agenda, the only comparison that I could identify was the Populist movement of the Nineteenth Century. What I found interesting was that the movement in its intial stages was not concerned with altering the conditions of farmers through direct political involvement, but, rather, through intiatives situated solely within civil society. In the form of cooperatives, the farmers of Texas and the Midwest, along with much of the South, attempted to extricate farmers from the crop lean system by leveraging resources in order to amass the necessary capital to invest in the modes of agricultural production without having to go through the local merchants, who levied extraordinary interests upon the farmers, which entailed the perpetual poverty of the preponderance of land owning peasants.
In this context, the use of a networked system of leveraging has obvious comparisons to the collective cognition that is engendered by Web 2.0 platforms. However, additionally, and more significantly, the circumvention of tranditional political institutions in an attempt to alter the economic conditions of farmers is of interest because I think it provides a conceptual archetype for the construction of an electronic democracy based upon principles of Web 2.0. Rather, than attempting to institute democratic reforms through the modifications to existing political structures, I would suspect that a more effective means would involve simply building within the shells, as the anarcho-syndicalists would say. Thus, eventually coming to form an alternative social model that would displace obsolescent social institutions. sort of like a bloodless revolution that creeps, but fails to rumble. Just a vulgar description of some of my thoughts as well as those of some theorists in the EU.
I would love to have some feedback if anyone is kind enough,
R Cole

Posted by: russellcole38 [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 11, 2007 7:27 PM

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