In true backward logic, it was only after blogging on cyberdemocracy for a couple of week that I realise that exploring what cyberdemocracy is, could be rather useful. So in this post I’m giving the 411 of what I understand the tem to mean and what it’s components are.
Cyberdemocracy is also known as e-democracy, cyberpolitics or e-politics. The term comes from the idea that it is the combination of the internet or electronic media and the realm of politics.
The term describes the utilization on the internet and its communications technologies to drive or further democratic processes. Under the ideal circumstances (in previous posts I have noted the flaws of cyberdemocracy), electronic communication technologies can indeed enhance democracy in a number of ways.
As noted in a previous post, “the web is an open medium that allows the average individual a voice louder and more far-reaching than any other”. Given the openness of the internet and the power it gives the average citizen, it can be the ideal tool in any democracy.
With the internet being used more increasingly, decision-making processes are made more accessible allowing for more direct citizen participation. Ideally, e-politics allows for a more transparent and accountable democracy.
There are issues that arise with this new kind of politics. The most important of which to me and most relevant in Africa is the issue of the digital divide. In the last post, I spoke to this very issue. Another, is that of identification mechanisms, the protection and verification of users’ identities.
Once you start to understand cyberdemocracy you begin to see how there are a number of interests that stand to be greatly harmed. Because with the internet, one can easily over-ride the traditional routes to political participation and communications, media companies and their interests are in danger. We as the public would no longer look depend on them for information, neither would we need to use them to communicate our own ideas and concerns.
So now that I have broken down what I mean by cyberdemocracy, I can continue delving deeper into each issue to see what that means the average user.