Many signs today indicate a decline of both democracy and the trust in the Internet and social media. This seems to make digital democracy a hard sell. Also, for digital democracy to be globally relevant it is necessary to find ways to make it useful also in countries with authoritarian regimes. This is where most people live and where improvements are most important for the world to become more democratic. Drawing on the concept of ?citizen participation? (Almond and Verba 1963) and the Information System Artifact model (Lee et al. 2015) we discuss how participation can be improved in countries of any regime in terms of the technology used, the information flows, and the social systems in which technology and information are used to communicate. Examples from Sweden and Uganda, countries with very different regimes, illustrate how improvements can be made everywhere, however only with considerable effort. The main conclusion is that democracy is not something you have but something you do. It has to be implemented every day, mostly in small steps and often in the context of administration rather than politics. Because such contexts occur also in authoritarian countries technology can be used to improve participation everywhere.
This article focuses on ?deliberative e-rulemaking?: digital consultation processes that seek to facilitate public deliberation over policy or regulatory proposals. The main challenge of e-ruling platforms is to facilitate an ?intelligent? deliberative process; one that enables decision makers to identify a wide range of options, to weigh relevant considerations, and to develop epistemically responsible solutions. The article discusses and criticizes two approaches to this challenge: Cornell RegulationRoom?s project and Livermore et al model of computationally assisted regulatory participation. It then proceeds to explore two alternative responses: the first is based on the implementation of collaborative, wiki-styled tools; the second takes a more futuristic approach, which focuses on the potential development of autonomous, artificial democratic agents.
Many public officials and government agencies are facing increasing pressure to utilize social media as a crisis communications tool. However, significant questions remain unanswered regarding how social media can be best leveraged to facilitate effective communication efforts under crisis conditions. These questions are often more challenging for local government agencies, where unsupportive culture and a lack of resources tend to discourage the active use of social media in governing. In an effort to better inform these discussions, this article examines the use of Twitter by federal, state, and local government actors during the 2015?2016 Zika virus outbreak in the United States. The findings show that local governments have smaller network sizes, on average, than their state and federal counterparts. In contrast, federal level agencies tend to enjoy larger network sizes, which they frequently leverage as a tool for disseminating information. Elected office holders, in general, managed large networks, and leveraged their popularity during the crisis. This analysis offers insight for both scholars and practitioners in the areas of emergency management and public administration, as it helps to deepen our understanding of how government agencies and political leaders across various levels of government engage with the public during times of crisis.
Contrasting utopian dreams of quick turn-around for government by the virtue of technology, this conceptual paper stand on the shoulders of decades of research that has failed to demonstrate empirical verification of technology driven administrative transformation. In this paper we argue that contrasting the political ambitions on next generation of government, the uptake of technology can lead to digital sclerosis characterized by stiffening of the governmental processes, failure to respond to changes in demand, and lowering innovation feedback from workers. In the paper we argue that there are three early warnings of digital sclerosis: Decreased bargaining and discretion power of governmental workers, enhanced agility and ability at shifting and extended proximities, and panopticonization. To respond proactively and take preventive care initiatives, policy makers as well as systems developers need to be sensitized about the digital sclerosis, prepare the technology, and design intelligent augmentations in a flexible and agile approach.
Twenty-five years ago, in the beginning of the widespread web, I hoped the internet could enable government and my field, media, to be more responsive, inclusive, equitable, collaborative, transparent, and accountable ? in short, more democratic. That still could happen; in scattered cases, it has. But what I did not predict was how much these institutions would come into competition and conflict with the net.
Digital Government refers to the use of information technology to support government operations, engage citizens, and provide government services as the Digital Government Society declares in its mission state-ment. While modern information technologies provide the necessary underpinnings expressed by the terms ?digital,? or, the outdated ?electronic,? for this public-sector phenomenon, technology in and by itself is not sufficient to capture the scope and various dimensions of Digital Government, which, unobserved at first, and later even disputed, continue to have increasingly transformational influences on the business of government in all its aspects, on all levels, and in all branches. In this disquisition, the evolution of Digi-tal Government is portrayed and discussed from its humble beginnings to the intermediary present along with a projection and a preview of where this fascinating multidisciplinary domain of research and practice might lead in the next two decades. It is claimed that the transformation of the business of government is just beginning, and it is argued that major and undeniable instances of transition can be observed in the next decade.
What follows is a mixture of history, analysis, and perspective. Democracy has great potential that it rarely if ever achieves. Democracy is radical, critical, complex, and fragile. Given today's realities the need for democracy is extreme while there are ominous signs that it may be in retreat. How does democracy fare when digital technology is added to the picture? This essay focuses on the visions of democratic technology, sketches of widespread anti-democratic uses of digital technology, suggestions for integrating technology into democratic spaces judiciously, and some personal experiences over my 30+ years working in this area.
Twenty-five years ago Richard Sclove penned Democracy and Technology, his award-winning book, which long before today's debate around AI ethics, called for all of us to pay greater attention to the development and regulation of new technology. No innovation without participation,? he wrote in the Washington Post, championing the need to create the mechanisms for everyday people to play a role in governing the technologies that have come to dominate our lives. We talked with Sclove about his vision and asked him to look back twenty-five years and ahead another twenty-five years to assess the impact of democracy on technology and technology on democracy.
Twitter is widely adopted by governments to communicate with citizens. It has become a major source of data for analyzing how governments communicate with citizens and how citizens respond to such communication, uncovering important insights about government-citizen interactions that could be used to support public policy-making. This paper presents research that aims at developing a software tool called TA4GIP (Twitter Analytics for Government Intelligence and Public Participation) that applies sentiment analysis and visualization techniques to information collected from Twitter and presents the findings to policy-makers and other non-technical users to facilitate understanding and interpretation. The use of the tool is illustrated through the case study of Twitter communication carried by five government secretaries responsible for health, education, social development, labor and environment sectors in Mexico, and corresponding citizen responses over a nine-month period. The case study demonstrates that TA4GIP helps identify and analyze relevant aspects of government presence and citizen participation on social media, such as abnormal activity, salient topics being discussed, citizen views about enacted public policies, correlations between types of emotions in responses to particular government announcements, topics that generate polarized reactions from citizens, and many others.
Social media has emerged to be a new platform for facilitating interaction between police agencies and the public. To study dialogue between police agencies and the public on Facebook, we collected 29,928 Facebook posts of 43 municipal police agencies in the U.S. and 628,098 public comments to those agencies' posts. We found that only 907 (0.1%) public comments received replies from the agencies. We further applied the notion of dialogic accounting to investigate how police agencies dealt with public multiple viewpoints on Facebook. Our findings revealed that (1) the public comments varied in diverse topics but the agencies mainly replied to those comments that were Seeking information; (2) the agencies replied quickly when Acknowledging positive public comments; and (3) the agencies often ignored negative comments. Our work made design implications for social media tools and practical implications for police agencies that can better support dialogic accounting for effective conversations between the agencies and the public.
Digital Democracy: Episode IV--A New Hope
Social Media platforms are today the main spheres in which politicians make political and personal statements, confront other public figures and interact with the public. In the current study, the Facebook pages of all Israeli MPs were scraped and analyzed for the entire period of the 19th Israeli parliament service (between 2013-2015), in order to find similarities and differences between the posting behavior and acceptance of coalition and opposition members posts. We found that popular posts published by members of coalition and opposition differ in terms of scope of publication, scope of user engagement (posts by coalition members were more engaged-with), content and format (posts by members of opposition more varied in format, more mobilizing, critical, opinionative and negative, less formal but also less personal). The implications for the character of Facebook as a key parliamentary discursive arena are discussed.