Social Media – Democracy or Transparency

(cross-posted from the Davenport Institute’s InCommon blog)

This article on an Icelandic experiment in “crowdsourcing” its constitution through social media highlights some important distinctions between participatory democracy and government transparency:

Tiago Peixoto, Director of Research at the Electronic Democracy Center at the University of Zurich, and one of the world’s foremost experts on digital participatory governance, tells Fast Company that transparency should be not be confused with democracy. And past experiments with crowdsourced legislation tell us that citizens might not actually have any influence on the lawmakers who are ultimately responsible for ratification. And even if so, their influence might not be so wise.

Even well-educated voters can have difficulty grasping the wildly intricate thicket of legal problems from legislation. “In a constitutional process it becomes even more difficult,” says Peixoto, “because it’s difficult to raise awareness on the huge number of issues that are at stake.”

You can read more about the experiment here.

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