Becker, Ted. "Rating the Impact of New Technologies on Democracy." Communications of the ACM. Jan 2001 v44 i1 p39

Keywords: participatory democracy

Abstract:

According to Becker, information technology is transforming democracies worldwide. Information and communications technologies (ICT) have become essential for enabling a stronger more participatory stage of democracy. ICTs have the potential to improve and expand direct democracy. The Internet has provided the mechanisms for the development of web sites dedicated to transforming democracies into stronger states. The author touts his site; www.auburn.edu/tann as an example of on-line democracy. Becker even includes a warning that the Internet is not only used to promote democracy but also quite the opposite. In some places the Internet is used as just another arm of dictatorship, to surveil flows of information and communications to stifle free dialogue to identify those who go against government policy. This type of oppressive state must deny some a voice. To contrast this the author provides examples of good productive accounts of how the Internet is used to enrich citizens with information and dialogue, allowing for active citizenship making their views and voices heard, and votes counted. The real benefit to transforming representative democracy into a more participatory democratic state, according to Becker, is that the Internet affords citizens the right to be lawmakers directly. The author is optimistic about the positive effects that the Internet will have on future democracy.