Van Benschoten, Elizabeth. "Technology, Democracy, and the Creation of Community." National Civic Review, Fall 2000 v89 i3 p185

Keywords: democratic governance, Internet


This article looks at how new technology, particularly uses of the Internet, can benefit society and strengthen our democratic structure. According to Van Benschoten, we must begin to understand how the Internet relates to community, how it is changing our values and ethical systems Ė the systems that maintain our democratic governance. Because the Internet facilitates the building of communities of interest, promoting civic engagement and social organizing, there is great democratic potential. The authorís biggest question through out is; will Internet access to information and opportunities generate greater civic participation? Issues of access and the barriers to access are discussed (including the fact that not being fluent in English may be a barrier). The question of who will control the technology is touched on. The author brings up the possibility that a few power companies could dominate the Internet and if this happens, warns that there is a risk of information and communications being commodified and filtered, in such a way as to disrupt any potential for the redistribution of power and influence. The author concludes by admitting the potential of Internet technology for enhancing our democracy. She warns however, that this technology moves fast, so fast in fact that to make good decisions about its uses and management we need to take the time to reflect on itís best uses.