By Ismael PeÃ±a-LÃ³pez
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #75, December 2009
For a paper I am preparing about Politics 2.0 in Spain â€” and that has already produced a definition of Politics 2.0 â€” I had to gather quite a good bunch of literature. There is quite some information about online politics, some about politics 2.0, but very few about Politics 2.0, especially academic literature about Politics 2.0 in Spain, which is scarce. Thus, writing that paper has required some interesting academic juggling.
Below I’ve listed the bibliography that so far I’m using to structure and back my paper. Beyond the bibliography that follows, three events helped much in collecting insights, ideas and find many interesting references. My gratitude to the speakers at these events:
Arnstein, S. R. (1969). â€œA Ladder of Citizen Participationâ€. In American Institute of Planners, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, Vol. 35, No. 4, July 1969, pp. 216-224. Boston: American Institute of Planners.
Hence, here come the questions and answers, which had always to parts: a closed question where one out of two options had to be chosen, and an open space where to elaborate your choice. In general, choosing was always difficult, as rarely in the issues raised had I a clear yes/no or black/white position. Of course, my doubts on my own answers are many, so by any means would I like to sound any categorical at all.
Just below the questions, more information about The Future of the Internet is provided.
Survey questions and answers
Will Google make us smart or stupid? By 2020, people’s use of the internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information, they become smarter and make better choices. Nicholas Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google). By 2020, people’s use of the internet has not enhanced human intelligence and it could even be lowering the IQs of most people who use it a lot. Nicholas Carr was right: Google makes us stupid.
Please explain your choice and share your view of the internet’s influence on the future of human intelligence in 2020 – what is likely to stay the same and what will be different in the way human intellect evolves?
The history of humankind is that of work substitution and human enhancement. The Neolithic revolution brought the substitution of some human physical work by animal work. The Industrial revolution brought more substitution of human physical work by machine work. The Digital revolution is implying a significant substitution of human brain work by computers and ICTs in general.
Whenever a substitution has taken place, men has been able to focus on more qualitative tasks, entering a virtuous cycle: the more qualitative the tasks, the more his intelligence develops; and the more intelligent he gets, more qualitative tasks he can perform.
In general, the Internet is implying the substitution of lower level brain work (e.g. memorization, routine and repetitive calculations) leaving more room for more complex and abstract thinking, which triggers the connection of more synapses and, thus, improves intelligence.
On the other hand, the ability to perform more complex and abstract thinking has to be backed with more and better information, which is also being provided by the increasing pervasiveness of the Internet, the availability of data which grows exponentially and, more important, the concurrence of more people (more human beings, more brains) in one’s personal network, thus enriching his knowledge sphere.
Of course, drawbacks can also appear.
Firstly, we have assumed that freeing resources (brain work) automatically implies reallocating the resources in higher level tasks. It can happen, nevertheless, that what remains constant is not total effort, but total output, thus reducing total effort. As obesity might be the side-effect of physical work substitution my machines, mental laziness can become the watermark of mental work substitution by computers, thus having a negative effect instead of a positive one.
Secondly, performing higher levels of mental activity can imply a certain level of mental capacity and some specific skills (digital literacy, abstract thinking, a specific IQ, etc.). If weak men would not be welcome in ancient Sparta, it is very likely that intellectual skills will imply new drivers of social exclusion in the nearer future. Indeed, capacity building, education, training might well be one of the most difficult challenges in the years to come.
Will we live in the cloud or on the desktop? By 2020, most people won’t do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Instead, they will work in Internet-based applications, like Google Docs, and in applications run from smartphones. Aspiring application developers will sign up to develop for smart-phone vendors and companies that provide Internet-based applications, because most innovative work will be done in that domain, instead of designing applications that run on a PC operating system. By 2020, most people will still do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Internet-based applications like Google Docs and applications run from smartphones will have some functionality, but the most innovative and important applications will run on (and spring from) a PC operating system. Aspiring application designers will write mostly for PCs.
Please explain your choice and share your view about how major programs and applications will be designed, how they will function, and the role of cloud computing by 2020.
Though it will strongly depend on the path of new technology (hardware, connectivity) adoption, two powerful human (not technological) behaviours are pushing Internet access towards the “cloud”:
Mobility: being commuting increasingly important in everyday’s life, and being access to information increasingly a major necessity for many purposes, being able to access this information independently from space (workplace, home, public transportation… the middle of the street, etc.) and time (working hours, weekend… whenever at night, etc.) will push people to acquire mobile devices with which access this information everywhen and everywhere;
Ubiquity: tied to mobility, we (will) want to access the same information and in the same way independently of time and place and, more important, independently from the device used. This independence of usage is twofold: same type of device, but two different ones (computer at home, computer at workplace) and different type of device (desktop, smartphone or television).
Syncing amongst a growing number of devices and types of devices is not only difficult, but inefficient, as it requires multiplying computing power and storage power, replicating personal configurations and customizations, etc.
The “cloud” allows unity of data, avoids unnecessary investment in capacity and storage, and eases personal customization, as also configuration data can “live in the cloud”.
The barriers to this evolution are many, but mainly inertia (we’ve been living based on ownership for the whole life) and rights (privacy, security, intellectual property, etc.) are amongst the ones that could be considered as more relevant.
Summing up, I not a general shifting towards the “cloud”, but yes specific areas of software definitely doing so: personal diaries, notes on conferences and all that is related to blogging in general; photos, videos and bookmarks; data sharing, data plotting and graphics and data visualization in general; collaborative documents, especially spreadsheets and reports; etc.
Will social relations get better? In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a negative force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future. In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.
Please explain your choice and share your view of the internet’s influence on the future of human relationships in 2020 – what is likely to stay the same and what will be different in human and community relations?
Two major forces will push human beings towards using ICTs – and the Internet in particular – to enhance their social relationships and, thus, those will have a positive impact on these. In other words: ICTs won’t have an impact on socialization, as if they were an exogenous variable of the equation, but on the contrary: aim for socialization will have an impact on the usage of ICTs, being these the dependent or the endogenous variable of the system.
These forces are the following:
Sociability itself: the Aristotelic zoon politikon has found a new, effective, efficient way to get in touch with others and, more important, to increase (their) Dunbar’s number, as the Internet allows for increased interactivity across time and space.
The power of the Network Society: the Network Society will increasingly change the shape of social institutions (political parties, governments, schools, firms, associations, etc.), that will lose momentum favouring personal network-like relationships. Social engagement (of whatever kind: learning, working, being a citizen, etc.) will require an active weaving of one’s own web, to find one’s kindred souls, to collude with others to achieve common goals.
If the Internet is to have a negative force on one’s social world it will be due to people being disconnected and, thus, missing plenty of things happening online, things that enlarge and enhance the offline connections and their activities.
Will the state of reading and writing be improved? By 2020, it will be clear that the internet has enhanced and improved reading, writing, and the rendering of knowledge. By 2020, it will be clear that the internet has diminished and endangered reading, writing, and the intelligent rendering of knowledge.
Please explain your choice and share your view of the internet’s influence on the future of knowledge-sharing in 2020, especially when it comes to reading and writing and other displays of information – what is likely to stay the same and what will be different? What do you think is the future of books?
As the Internet still is intensive in textual information â€“ though image, audio and video are certainly increasing their share â€“ we believe that an improvement of reading should be a direct consequence of higher usage levels of the Internet, both in terms of access to content as in usage of online services.
On the other hand, the possibility â€“ the enablement, actually â€“ that anyone can upload any kind of content to the Internet is yet another way where creativity and all the skills that come with it â€“ abstraction, synthesis, expression, etc â€“ shall be boosted. Being the Internet a knowledge repository in itself, and managing the Internet a knowledge intensive activity, we believe that even the most passive or trivial uses of it can have a positive impact on knowledge processing by humans, that is, reading, writing and rendering of knowledge.
In the future, we might see more and more the integration of different media into multimedia pieces of information. This, of course, will be bound to higher requirements of digital competences. This shift, of course, will also push forward some digital supports in detriment of older ones, but we might see an increase in the total number of digital supports and in the consumption of content. In this sense, we believe it will be good times for the content creation industry and bad times for distribution.
Will the willingness of Generation Y / Millennials to share information change as they age? By 2020, members of Generation Y (today’s “digital natives”) will continue to be ambient broadcasters who disclose a great deal of personal information in order to stay connected and take advantage of social, economic, and political opportunities. Even as they mature, have families, and take on more significant responsibilities, their enthusiasm for widespread information sharing will carry forward. By 2020, members of Generation Y (today’s “digital natives”) will have “grown out” of much of their use of social networks, multiplayer online games and other time-consuming, transparency-engendering online tools. As they age and find new interests and commitments, their enthusiasm for widespread information sharing will abate.
Please explain your choice and share your view of the internet’s influence on the future of human lifestyles in 2020 – what is likely to stay the same and what will be different? Will the values and practices that characterize today’s younger internet users change over time?
We will see two (apparently) contradictory evolutions in todayâ€™s Generation Yâ€™s behaviour. On the one hand, they might abandon some of their current practices of intensive personal content sharing on the Net and usage of some social networking sites and other “friend-focused” practices.
Nevertheless, we believe this will be more a qualitative than a quantitative evolution: quitting some of these activities will be more related to the evolution of their actual tastes â€“ and socialization needs â€“ rather than a matter of “growing out”. Instead, in quantitative terms, we think that the generations that were born with the Internet and, especially, the ones that grew with the Web 2.0 will have specific practices embedded in their social code.
Thus, once in the job market, they might get rid of some practices but translate the essence to their jobs: collaborative working, high exposure of professional portfolios online, working directly on digital and web platforms, or be present in professional (and also personal, of course) networking sites might become common ground and a driver of exclusion for those not being able to live in this landscape.
Will our relationship to institutions change? By 2020, innovative forms of online cooperation will result in significantly more efficient and responsive governments, businesses, non-profits, and other mainstream institutions. By 2020, governments, businesses, non-profits and other mainstream institutions will primarily retain familiar 20th century models for conduct of relationships with citizens and consumers online and offline.
Please explain your choice and share your view of the internet’s influence upon the future of institutional relationships with their patrons and customers between now and 2020. We are eager to hear what you think of how social, political, and commercial endeavors will form and the way people will cooperate in the future.
Institutions are in dire crisis. Most institutions (schools and universities, political parties and governments, enterprises, clubs and associations) were created to lower the costs of gathering information, engaging with our peers and taking decisions or perform some tasks.
When these costs drop because of digital technologies, many institutions have to re-think where are they adding value and where not, having to be able to get rid of the value-less activities they perform and concentrate in the ones that still make sense.
But two major risks may arise from this situation.
The first one is that to circumvent institutions, or to differently relate with them and the rest of the community, a new set of skills and, over all, time, will be highly required. Though new skills might be more or less easy to acquire (though they will certainly be a driver of exclusion), time will still be scarce and a major barrier for higher levels of participation and engagement.
The second, and related with the former, is that time-wealthy individuals (or the ones that can “buy” time by “externalizing” other time-consuming activities) will take up with the power to dialogue face-to-face with the (new) institutions. The danger, of course, will appear when these individuals are not representative of the majority of the citizenry and/or only representative of small elites and plutocracies.
Thus, lack of engagement by many and intense engagement by a few can lead up to the replacement of old institutions by new networks which will act as the previous institutions (i.e. concentrating power) but much less transparent and accountant because of their centralization.
Will online anonymity still be prevalent? By 2020, the identification ID systems used online are tighter and more formal – fingerprints or DNA-scans or retina scans. The use of these systems is the gateway to most of the internet-enabled activity that users are able to perform such as shopping, communicating, creating content, and browsing. Anonymous online activity is sharply curtailed. By 2020, internet users can do a lot of normal online activities anonymously even though the identification systems used on the internet have been applied to a wider range of activities. It is still relatively easy for internet users to create content, communicate, and browse without publicly disclosing who they are.
Please explain your choice and share your view about the future of anonymous activity online by the year 2020.
We expect opposite trends in matters of identification and anonymity on the Net.
On the one hand, as e-commerce, e-administration, e-democracy or e-learning grow (and we definitely think they will), robust and fool-proof identification systems will become more and more usual and even normal in everyday life. We will grow used to real identification in many places and will be happy to, as the user experience will benefit from it: more personalization in services, less hazard of being the victim of cybercrime, more efficiency in online transactions, etc.
The rise of the e-portfolio (academic or professional, personal or institutional) will have its multiplier effect in requiring more formal and frequent online identification.
On the other hand, better search engines (absolutely pervasive in their web scanning), augmented reality and the blurring of online and offline life, and more surveillance by governments and criminal organizations (and especially when both collude in corrupt or non-democratic regimes) will demand an increased need for anonymity just for the sake of personal security.
Will the Semantic Web have an impact? By 2020, the Semantic Web envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee and his allies will have been achieved to a significant degree and have clearly made a difference to the average internet users. By 2020, the Semantic Web envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee will not be as fully effective as its creators hoped and average users will not have noticed much of a difference.
Please explain your choice and share your view of the likelihood that the Semantic Web will have been implemented by 2020 and be a force for good in internet users’ eyes.
The Semantic Web is a liquid concept that has changed as technology â€“ and socioeconomic â€“ interests have evolved along time. In a broad sense, the Semantic Web is about machines understanding humans â€“ their behaviour, their actions, their knowledge outcomes â€“ without these having to tell or command them.
In this broad sense, the Semantic Web is likely to leap forward in the coming years. Augmented reality will begin to seriously bridge the offline and the online worlds or, better said, to bridge analogue and digital worlds.
This bridge will accelerate the already vertiginous path towards pouring immense amounts of data in digital format, which will definitely help search engines and all computing tasks in general in performing semantic activities. Of course, the evolution of hardware will also contribute in this, and we are likely to see an understandable “step back” in software design: it might become worth it to replace clever algorithms with brute force ones, where quantitative approaches (more data with more computing power) might be better than qualitative ones (related with efficiency based on metadata attached to data).
In any case, despite the state of evolution of the Semantic Web, a point of no return will by then have been reached in the way we understand the dichotomy of analogue and digital, and having entered a new paradigm where offline vs. online will no more make much sense.
Are the next takeoff technologies evident now? The hot gadgets and applications that will capture the imagination of users in 2020 are pretty evident today and will not take many of today’s savviest innovators by surprise. The hot gadgets and applications that will capture the imagination of users in 2020 will often come “out of the blue” and not have been anticipated by many of today’s savviest innovators.
Please explain your choice and share your view of its implications for the future. What do you think will be the hot gadgets, applications, technology tools in 2020?
There is always a temptation to think that everything has already been discovered and there is plenty of examples that any predictions in this sense have almost always failed.
Thus, more than a forecast, we would like to state a will that seems to be shared quite broadly amongst the society at last: consolidation instead of novelties.
The path of innovation in gadgets and online applications in the last years has been so incredibly accelerate that there seems to be a common voice towards leaving room for clever and useful adoption. We believe, hence, that this demand will resonate in suppliers, that might turn and look at how helping the user (the customer) in getting the best of innovation rather than in innovation per se.
This will, indeed, decrease cutting edge technology in favour of major and mass adoption.
Despite this “democratization” of cutting edge technology and “geekery” at large, ubiquity and the blurring of the lines that separate online from offline and analogue from digital will doubtlessly push forward innovations that will (hopefully) seem to come out of William Gibsonâ€™s novels.
Will the internet still be dominated by the end-to-end principle? In the years between now and 2020, the internet will mostly remain a technology based on the end-to-end principle that was envisioned by the internet’s founders. Most disagreements over the way information flows online will be resolved in favor of a minimum number of restrictions over the information available online and the methods by which people access it. In the years between now and 2020, the internet will mostly become a technology where intermediary institutions that control the architecture and significant amounts of content will be successful in gaining the right to manage information and the method by which people access and share it.
Please explain your choice, note organizations you expect to be most likely to influence the future of the internet and share your view of the effects of this between now and 2020.
There will be an increase in the will to monitor and control the Internet, but it will not take place in the carriers but in the ends. We believe that the Web 2.0 has reinforced the decentralized structure of the Internet, not only technologically, but also conceptually, where anyone can create a knowledge node in matters of minutes.
But this individual empowerment has also provided tools to people and institutions aiming at monitoring or controlling the Internet. Thus, it will be more efficient to, as in judo, gain momentum by benefiting from othersâ€™ energy rather than to fight it. E.g. it will be more effective to identify political dissidents by monitoring social networking sites rather than applying rough censorship on ISPs.
On the other hand, we are likely to see a definitive acknowledgement that some business models have changed forever and that controlling the Internet and the carriers will provide no positive results â€“ on the contrary, loss of opportunities and revenues in benefit of competitors adapting more quickly.
My reflections, though not explicitly stated, are more targeted towards researchers and knowledgeable people â€” to whom the Web 2.0 has at last provided a voice on their own despite their affiliation â€” and to knowledge workers and knowledge intensive institutions in general.
I here below translate my part into English and reproduce the full document and the “headlines” of all other contributors.
Social media will channel activity towards what is relevant: the portfolio
In the coming years we will be closing the circle and be back to personal and institutional websites, though these will in any way look like the ones we visited in the dawn of the World Wide Web.
We have performed a necessary initiation journey taken by the hand of social media, so that we could be introduced to the new and growing possibilities of the Web. Blogs and wikis showed us what was possible in a bi-directional Web, where content and even services creation could be decentralized and exit institutions. Social networking sites added the human factor to the network we had recently created: bi-directionality became multi-directionality, multi-diffusion. Blogs created the bourgeoisie of the Internet, and social networking sites opened it up and democratized it for the rest of the society.
But it is as easy to use social media as it is difficult to manage them and make them work for out benefit. It is likely that whoever wants or has to have a reputation on the Internet just cannot keep having tentacles without a visible head. Social media must be funnels that lead to us: we neither can manage chaor eternally, nor can we expect that whoever looks for us finds us or reconstruct us amongst this total maze of confusion.
This does not mean that we are not present in the relevant channels: it is there where we will mainly interact. But the critical mass of our digital persona must be as near as possible to our self.
What we do, what we are must be centralized. It is the image of what we do and become the one that has to be decentralized, not the essence.
I plead for the construction of the portfolio, for a return to the personal or institutional website, using social media as a game of mirrors that reflects us where we should also be present.
Predictions for Social Media in 2010
Alfonso Alcantara: Consultor y coach en desarrollo profesional y empleo 2.0 â€œEn 2010 las redes sociales definitivamente serÃ¡n las autopistas de las ideas.â€
Jacobo Ãlvarez: Director Negocio Grupo Intercom y Socio en Multiplica â€œEl 2010 el aÃ±o en el que, al menos en el mÃ³vil, la suma de geolocalizaciÃ³n y redes personales y profesionales nos liberen del exceso de informaciÃ³n y nos ayude a acceder a informaciÃ³n mÃ¡s relevante de nuestro entornoâ€
Jose Luis AntÃºnez: Fundador de YouAre y Coorganizador de Evento Blog EspaÃ±a â€œEl real-time es la extrapolaciÃ³n de la vida real a la web. Y en la vida real se hace dinero vendiendo y pagando cosasâ€.
Enrique Burgos: Responsable de Marketing Relacional de Unidad Editorial â€œSolo demostrando el valor que aporta a las marcas (econÃ³mico & imagen) se lograra una mayor comprensiÃ³n por las altas direcciones de las empresasâ€
Cesar CalderÃ³n: Socio Director en Autoritas Consulting â€œ2010 serÃ¡ el aÃ±o en el que las administraciones pÃºblicas descubran los Social Media y comiencen a conversar con los ciudadanosâ€
Fernado Fegido: Director de Negocio Digital de Caja Navarra â€œEl aÃ±o 2010 serÃ¡ otro aÃ±o en el que deberemos de seguir evangelizando y capacitando a muchos responsables de MÃ¡rketing y ComunicaciÃ³nâ€
TristÃ¡n ElÃ³segui: Responsable de Marketing Digital de Canal+ y Organizador del The Monday Reading Club â€œLa crisis va a favorecer el crecimiento de los medios socialesâ€
Ricard Espelt: Regidor de Nuevas TecnologÃas de Copons â€œLa ciudadanÃa, cada vez mÃ¡s consciente del poder de las redes sociales, va a provocar pequeÃ±as â€œrevolucionesâ€ en el devenir de la polÃtica espaÃ±olaâ€
Marek Fodor: Emprendedor y Business Angel del sector tecnolÃ³gico â€œBajarÃ¡ notablemente el crecimiento de twitter, comparado con el aÃ±o 2009â€.
Jose Antonio Gallego VÃ¡zquez: Responsable de Comunidad del BBVA â€œSe darÃ¡ el caso de comunidades enteras que renuncian a las redes sociales, que se bautizarÃ¡n como â€œAmish digitalesâ€â€
Albert GarcÃa Pujadas: CEO Nikodemo â€œEl video se impondrÃ¡ como formato de comunicaciÃ³n habitual y como soporte publicitario de primer ordenâ€
Xavier Guell: Weyoose y Coorganizador de Cava&Twitts â€œAdiÃ³s humo, hola servicioâ€
Alberto Ortiz de ZÃ¡rate: Director de AtenciÃ³n Ciudadana en Gobierno Vasco â€œEmpezaremos a hacer un uso inteligente de las redes sociales. En ese camino, la relevancia se desplazarÃ¡ de las herramientas hacia las estrategias de comunicaciÃ³nâ€
By Ismael PeÃ±a-LÃ³pez
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #-24045,
In 2005, Tim Oâ€™Reilly published a seminal article â€” What Is Web 2.0 â€” in which he provided a definition for the term Web 2.0, which had gained a huge momentum during the previous year since the first edition of the Web 2.0 Conference in October 2004.
The concept gathered both technological and philosophical (in the sense of behaviours and attitudes) issues. At the technological level, it dealt about the importance of the web as a delivery (of content and services) platform by excellence; data as the core component of all kind of communications and interchanges; software as a service and not a product, then becoming more important access to software than its â€œphysicalâ€ purchase; predominance to RSS and associated procedures for the exchange of content; or (while keeping the importance of the web as a platform) the need to create technologies that were portable across devices. At the philosophical level, and both cause and consequence of the technological advances, the spread (and enabling) of a contribution and participation culture by the society at large (and not only by institutions or organized associations); the acknowledgement that anyone could actually contribute with their knowledge and opinion (the â€œwisdom of crowdsâ€); the raise of a culture of mixing, assembling and aggregating content; and the will to have rich user experiences when interacting online (vs. A passive, unidirectional, monotonous approach which had been common ground in the previous years).
Besides the â€œformalâ€ definition of the Web 2.0, it has more often been described through some tools and the new and characteristic ways of using them: the blog and the nanoblog, the wiki, social bookmarking, photo and video sharing websites, tagging and â€œfolksonomiesâ€, syndication and aggregation, etc.
After this philosophical approach â€“ boosted by the technological advancements â€“ many have adapted some of the core definitions to many aspects of life. Thus, for instance, Education 2.0 often referred to as a shift from unidirectional lecturing towards a more participatory approach of learning, based in collaboratively creating learning materials, an intensive usage of web 2.0 tools, or openness and sharing of the process of learning, just to name a few. And along with Education, we can find debates around Research 2.0, Culture 2.0, Government 2.0, Journalism 2.0, Enterprise 2.0… and Politics 2.0.
But, quite often, we do not find specific definitions for such concepts, taking for granted that the reader will be able to do the translation from the Web 2.0 to the Whatever 2.0. I here provide my own definition of Politics 2.0, which I needed for a paper I am preparing about Politics 2.0 in Spain:
Ideas: not closed and packaged propaganda. Ideas that can be spread, shared and transformed by members of the party and partisans, sympathizers and supporter, and the society at large;
Open data: ideas are backed by incredible amounts of data and information made openly available to the general public, and most time provided with open licenses that allow their reuse and remix;
Participation: of all and every kind of people and institutions, blurring the edges of the â€œstructuresâ€ and permeating the walls of institutions, making communication more horizontal and plural;
Loss of control of the emission of the message, that now can be transferred outside of mainstream media and diffused on a peer-to-peer and many-to-many basis by means of web 2.0 tools;
Loss of control of the creation itself of the message: being data and participation available, web 2.0 tools at anyoneâ€™s reach, and with minimum digital competences, the message can even be created and spread bottom up;
Acknowledgement, hence, of the citizen as some who can be trusted (and used) as a one-man think-tank and a one-man communication-media;
Reversely, possibility to reach each and every opinion, target personal individuals with customized messages, by means of rich data and web 2.0 tools, thus accessing a long tail of voters that are far from the median voter;
Construction of an ideology, building of a discourse, setting up goals, campaigning and government become a continuum that feedbacks in real time.
I admit that this is neither a usual or a formal description, nor a comprehensive set of characteristics. I believe, though, that it could serve in providing a fair framework to contextualize and explain what’s happening at the intersection of Politics and the Web 2.0.
By Ismael PeÃ±a-LÃ³pez
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #75, December 2009
Notes from the research seminar Deliberative democracy: religion in the public sphere. Deliberative obligations of the democratic citizenry, by Cristina Lafont held at the Open University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain, on December 17th, 2009.
Deliberative democracy: religion in the public sphere. Deliberative obligations of the democratic citizenry Cristina Lafont
Which has to be the role of Religion in the public sphere? Which one actually is? Which should it be?
Specially in a deliberative democracy, the fact that people have religious believes makes even more important exactly knowing what are the challenges for democracy of this issue.
The deliberative democracy is a fragile balance between the right to debate whatever subject under some few but strong coercive rules.
JÃ¼rgen Habermas: a process of deliberation has to be able to be justified and without coercion. Public deliberation has to include all information available; equality, symmetry and reciprocity to all contributions, independently of their source; absence of (external) coercion; communicative equality; and participants have to be sincere, critic, have no hidden goals, and be responsible for their own opinions.
But not only procedures have to be acceptable, but also the contents of the debate.
John Rawls tries to provide an answer this last question. Thus, contents have to be dealing with the public good (vs. the private). So, what happens with religion, normally out of the public sphere? According to Rawls, Religion has to be left outside, with some exceptions, e.g. values gathered in modern constitutions, basic justice, etc.
But some incompatibilities arise when some citizens might not accept coercive solutions that come from public values but not accepted in their own set of comprehensive beliefs. Indeed, the rawlsian thought could even exclude persons themselves from the public deliberation. Or ask them to forget about their beliefs when entering a deliberative process. Or give priority to public interests over personal beliefs.
Habermas “solves” this by dividing the agora in two: the informal deliberation, where citizens can bring in all kind of beliefs, and the institutional deliberation (parliaments, etc.) where these personal beliefs should be left aside or be translated into “secular” principles (e.g. the ones gathered in constitutions).
Habermas’s solution also has some problems, like treating secular citizens differently from religious ones, sometimes leaving them aside of this “translation” of their principles, for not being as explicit as the religious ones.
Lafont offers come comments. Instead of trying to translate them into general or public reasons, an interesting approach would be to take seriously religious proposals and assume they can be right. Thus, they should be debated as proposals of general or public reasons proposals. And hence be prepared to accept them or refute them, based on grounded arguments. The debate should, then, be more about the compatibility of specific beliefs with the common and acknowledged beliefs (again, e.g. the Constitution) and not whether these beliefs are right or wrong or better than others.
[a debate follows, too complex and rich to collect here]
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2009) “Cristina Lafont: Deliberative democracy: religion in the public sphere. Deliberative obligations of the democratic citizenry” In ICTlogy,
#75, December 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from
Closing Session of the Telecentre Forum Chairs: Sriyan de Silva Wijeratne, Microsoft Sri Lanka
Florencio Ceballos, telecentre.org, International Development Research Centre
One of the convictions behind telecentre.org was that telecentre operators should be trained as social entrepreneurs, instead of hiring people to perform especific tasks.
Providing services – like Drishtee does – was another of the main things that became clear from the very beginning. Knowing, thus, that many countries were approaching last mile issues with public access to the Internet, based on entrepreneurs and services addressed to the comunity, fostered the creation of a global network where all these initiatives could be shared and learn one from another one.
The UNDP began a telecentre network with 3 telecentres in Egypt. A thing that has been learnt since is that telecentres cannot survive outside of a network. A network makes possible sharing services amongts member telecentres of the network or even amongst networks; share strategies and policies, etc. On the other hand, the addition of new telecentres is easy, as they benefit from the experience of the already established telecentres.
But telecentre sustainability does not only rely on sharing services, but in creating new ones. Amongst these services, e-Government services are, arguably, the best option nowadays.
Lessons & good practices learnt from the Philippines Telecentre Experience Tess Camba, National Computing Centre, Philippines
Institutionalizing a national policy: it is worth expliciting and embedding a telecentre policy in the general policy of the government.
Organizing one network: the network, a multistakeholder one, is useful to raise awareness, to represent the different interests of the stakeholders.
Pursuing a shared vision: to have a community e-Center in everty municipality
Employing a multi-stakeholder partnership: engaging the government, the private sector, NGOs, academia, etc.
Training compentent Community e-Center managers
Promoting knowledge sharing: through the online platform, knowledge exchange conference, Community e-Centre managers exchange programme
Putting premium on content & services
Harnessing leaders & champions
Ravi Gupta, CSDMS
CSDMS publishes Telecentre Magazine.
There is a major challenge that telecentres face. Their portfolio of services is growing in width and complexity. But they will not survive if the do not have a social part. Telecentres have to connect the dots.
But the added problem to this is: if the governments are not e-ready, telecentres cannot supply e-government services; if the educational system is not e-ready, telecentres cannot supply digital learning services; if the health system is not e-ready, telecentres cannot supply e-health services; and so on with resellers, banks, etc.
The need for knowledge sharing will increase, not decresase, and more as connectivity raises (especially in developing countries).
The importance to document everything you do, with a writing, with a photograph, with a video… Testimonials have a strong power and, besides, they help you in keeping track of what you’ve done
The importance to recognise your failures… and learn from them, of course
Telecentre Forum 2009 - eAsia 2009 (2009)
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2009) “eAsia2009 (XI): Closing Session of the Telecentre Forum” In ICTlogy,
#75, December 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from
I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia,
and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university.
I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.