Sunday, 20 February 2011

Practical issues

A number of practical issues surround e-democracy. In the media, on the Internet, and in popular consciousness, there is a strong and generally unchallenged view that the Internet is the new electronic cradle of democracy. The original source of this view is probably the relatively unfettered speech found in Internet newsgroups, mailing lists, blogs, wikis and chat rooms.

The Internet currently does have several attributes that encourage thinking about it as a democratic medium. Part of this can be traced to the design principles that were established early in its evolution. The lack of centralized control suggests to many people that censorship or other attempts at control will be thwarted. Other attributes are a result of social design in the early days, the strongly libertarian support for free speech, the sharing culture that permeated nearly all aspects of Internet use, and the outright prohibition on commercial use by the National Science Foundation, for example. The Internet's most significant contribution was the idea of unmediated many-to-many communication on a large scale, through newsgroups, chat rooms, MUDs, and many other modes. This type of communication ignored the boundaries established with broadcast media, such as newspapers or radio, and with one-to-one media, such as letters or landline telephones. Finally, because Internet is a massive digital network with open standards, universal and inexpensive access to a wide variety of communication media and models could actually be attained.[12]

Some practical issues involving e-democracy include: effective participation; voting equality at decision stage; enlightened understanding; control of the agenda; and inclusiveness.

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