Democratizing the Internet

Yesterday, I went to an amazing talk by David Barsamian on Climate, Media and Capitalism. In his talk he argues that only independent media can be a source for political change. Journalists cannot ask tough questions when they can be silenced by politicking, and newspapers do not want to lose access to their valued information sets. Hence, local journalism is key to asking hard questions. We currently have a tool right in front of us that is amazing for stopping unethical behaviour, but it still relies upon something crucial, and something that I think is disappearing from our society: good faith. When people on the internet rally against governments and organizations, this tactic is only effective if governments choose to listen. If you’re Canadian like myself, you will have noticed Harper’s Fair Elections Act which plans to make it impossible for groups who already rarely vote to even have a chance. Everyone has complained about this extremely anti-democratic behaviour, but the government in Orwellian fashion is deflecting these charges. Our current methodology of activism is under threat. When good faith is not established between our governments and our people, it becomes difficult to keep them accountable. This is why Direct Action has become extremely popular, although it is held in low esteem by the mainstream media.


The internet, however, holds our salvation in its hands, and future technologies will also help make this even better. As we progress closer and closer to internet connectivity, direct democracy through the internet will become easier and easier to do. E-Direct Democracy, will allow us to have more of an input into how society runs. Canada has taken the first step in achieving this goal (although its actually just a step towards what most countries already have), by allowing E-Petitions. Canada still lacks an effective referendum formula, and as long as we stay on the path we are on, this will continue to be the case. Have an issue that you passionately care about? Well, then you can look up the information you need from both sides. That would be the ideal.

This is also one of the things I love about a website like ideapod, because the potential for the proliferation of theory is amazing. We do not need to wait for governments to give in, we can show that theory matches practice and works well by creating: facilitation based ideas. Facilitators are the the backbone of any proper democratic movement. While facilitators can have opinions on topics, they actively choose to forgo inputting ideas in favour of being able to speak for a committee to a larger group. They make sure things stay civil and they help the committee stay on topic. Normally you rotate this role between people. What we need is a space where topics can be formed, and people can volunteer to facilitate them, allowing the idea to grow and become what it should be. Once all relevant discussion has been completed, the facilitator closes the thread.

Without facilitators things quickly become about being in power, and being a leader. Rather than self-fulfillment and community teamwork, our system quickly breaks down into being one where people want to maintain power. We need to move away from top-down organization, because in the end we lose valuable ideas.


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