Is Technology a Friend to Citizen Engagement?

In the realm of Gov 2.0 and Open Data, technology can seem like the answer to all of democracy’s problems.  But a recent piece on the Engaging Cities blog reminds us that online and mobile tools are exactly that – tools.  The article provocatively quotes Catherine Howe from Public-i, reminding readers that “technology without democratic evolution is like ‘lipstick on a pig'”:

Back in 1795, the very first model of the telegraph, the Napoleonic semaphore, raised hopes for – and fears of –  greater citizen engagement in government. Similarly the invention of the TV sparked debates on whether technology would strengthen or weaken democracy, increasing citizen awareness or creating more opportunities for market and government manipulation of public opinion.

Throughout history, technological developments have marked societal changes, but has technological innovation translated into better democracy?

You can read more about this question here.

Contributor: Sarah Mirembe, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’16. 

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