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Although the dissertation’s reference section now contains over 500 of them I haven’t referred to any particular papers recently.

In the last few weeks I came across a paper that I think is worth a mention, it certainly gets one in the dissertation. This is:

Winner, L. (2005). “Technological Euphoria and Contemporary Citizenship.” Techne 9(1): 124-133.

The author, Langdon Winner, is a Professor of Political Science and a former Rolling Stone journalist, not an everyday combination.

What hit me was the fact that he’s one of the few commentators I’ve read who also see e-government as political spin, for as he states on page 124:

“The building of canals, railroads, factories, and electrical power plants as well as the introduction of the telegraph, telephone, automobile, airplane, radio, television and other instruments of modern society have all been accompanied by enthusiastic proclamations that the innovation would give ordinary folks greater access to resources, more power over key decisions and broader opportunities for political involvement.”

Which he then questions and concludes on page 132 with:

“Finding ways to involve the public as a whole in processes of deliberation and choice about the dimensions, character and organization of emerging technologies, is an avenue for reform that few political societies have explored. Yet the promise of this political innovation is considerable—creating better technologies for widespread use while cultivating better citizens in the process.”

He’s right when he states that few societies have taken this risk, or rather should that be politicians? Will politicians in a representative democracy reduce their own power by permitting citizens a voice of their own? Or will the citizens  chose Hirschman’s exit if they are not permitted a voice?

Yet again technology is full of promise, will it be permitted to improve society across all its levels?


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