Blogging for more democracy

At the basis of democracy, there are two elements: deliberation and transparency. Deliberation provides the public sphere, as academics Stephen Coleman and Jay Blumler put it, with the “freedom to speak, assemble and publish, and for opposition to the government of the day to organise without fear of intimidation”.

Should we take this for granted, transparency should come naturally.

Via technological advancements in the last decade and the increasing popularity of the internet, deliberation has reached a new level. The online world has proved to be an immensely useful tool for the promotion of democracy – also in a transformative way – making it truer to its own principles.

The myriad of blogs and microblogs has allowed simple citizens to express their opinions and criticisms on various political and social issues and, via the linking ability of the web, these opinions are spread to other users. What cyberspace has accomplished is to increase polyphony, which is the main component, or rather prerequisite, for a just deliberation. In other words, it lubricates the democratic process.

The recent government proposals to make it easier for the authorities to identify bloggers illustrates that officials have – finally – realised that the blogosphere is politically significant. In the past, the role of disseminating information and forming public opinion was dominated by news outlets and traditional media. Nowadays, it is evident that the virtual world is stepping up to the task: it is the get-together of progressive thinkers, liberals and conservatives – it connects people. It has proven its capabilities in recent protests and revolutions.

So, why not use the online world to better our societies? The revolutionary and beneficial effects of the internet are undeniable. However, with great power comes great responsibility.

The online world is infinite, much like the universe. Its first problem is the overload of information – there are so many people sharing information that it really is hard to distinguish not only the factual from the imaginary. But it is also clear that there are many people out there whose verbose opinions expressed online are not necessarily backed up by action in the real world.

Consequently, this cacophony constructs another contortion – the difficulty to compete with the mass-media conglomerates and to get your message across. 


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