Digital Democracy

2nd April, 2009

Just spoke at a conference on digital democracy in Google HQ in Dublin. First thing that struck me is the quality of the Google office. It’s true, there are pool tables, games and coffee machines everywhere. Probably because of this nobody was using them and everyone that I could see was working really hard!!!

Spoke about the internet and poilitics. The main point that I made is that everybody thinks nearly exclusively of campaigning for political office when discussing this topic. Not enough think of the actual use of political office and how it could be enhanced by the internet. Given the state the country is in I think this is actually more important.

The examples I gave of this focused on how the internet has improved the quality of public services in other countries. I looked at how the NHS is using it to improve patient choice and the US Federal websites that allow their tax payers to see how their money is spent. Small things that could make a huge difference.

I stressed the point though that I do not think that the internet should be used to actually make political decisions (as opposed to inform them). We live in a representative democracy not a directly participative one. This kicked off a bit of a debate so I’m glad that I went along!