Following on from Peter’s article on democracy I thought I would highlight this paper on e-democracy. It seems to be a collective piece of work on the potential democratic impact of blogs. The very fact the work itself is collective is indicative of the influence it believes blogs could have on democracy through facilitating debate.
The article talks about the fact that currently pressure groups have more say than individuals in policy making. It also notes that the press was originally considered to be the voice of the people but is now more or less simply the voice of business and media barons. This is hard to deny if you read the profile of Rupert Murdoch published last year in the New Yorker – reading this article it is difficult to identify who decides elections; the voters or the media. The natural follow on question from that is who politicians serve when in office?
The article suggests that blogs may help address this imbalance, giving the example of the Trent Lott resignation. The intuition here is easy, bloggers as a community of voters will become another powerful open pressure group but one with significant numbers of actual voters.
The article also questions Peter’s assumption that you will always need a town planning officer. It suggests instead that blogs could facilitate citizens self organising to address complex democratic issues. It debates points such as the need for freedom of speech and for web democracy to come from many-to-many conversations rather than the manipulation of the internet by corporations and governments to control people.
I guess the question is will this happen or will the internet not simply go the same way as the press, and be dominated by big corporate players such Google and News Corp.