My congratulations to Richard at e-Democracyblog.com for setting up the Tech Policy Scorecard. If we are to measure this government’s progress we need a line in the sand at the start and I could not have presented a better one (apart from adding the satisfaction of the citizenry at the next review stage).
What is e-democracy? I kept falling over this as an assumption that e-government would lead, necessarily, to increased democratic involvement and interest, which I think is a false assumption. Is e-democracy about e-voting? Or, is it about greater public involvement in political or government decision-making? Is it about politicians and bureaucrats keeping the citizenry informed about what is going on? Is is about politicians and bureaucrats getting feedback from the citizens before they make decisions (rather than after!)?
I suspect that if one asks any politician or bureaucrat what e-democracy is, one will get some very varied answers. I am also concerned that in a representative democracy, to expect the turkeys to vote for Christmas or Thanksgiving, is asking a lot. Although we don’t always think a lot about our politicians, I’m pretty sure they have more brain than the average turkey and would like to live through a few celebrations before calling it a day.
To employ a related analogy, we are currently running around like headless chickens without any idea of what we expect e-democracy to deliver. If we define it, we can at least have something to work towards…(and I’ve read a lot of papers and books and there appears to be no academic agreement, so how do we get something the politicians and citizens might support?)
One recent innovation that will help is the Participedia, the brainchild of Archon Fung, Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at Harvard who has appeared on this weblog in the past. I found out all about the development in Communique, the newsletter of the Ash Centre for Democratic Governance & Innovation Spring 2010 Volume 6. Having originally considered a wiki as the alternative to this weblog, I’m pleased to see the technology being used in such manner.