Berman, Jerry., Weitzner, Daniel J. "Technology and Democracy." Social Research, Fall 1997 v64 n3 p1313 (7)

Keywords: participatory democracy, open architecture


Berman and Weitzner say that the Internet is a platform, which can promote a richer more participatory democratic life. However they warn there is no guarantee that the Internet will assure public participation or deliberation. The authors believe that the strength of the Internet can only be realized through an open architecture, affordable pricing and availability. These are the limiting factors to exercising the full potential of democratic participation via the Internet. The democratic nature of the Internet is demonstrated by its ability to enable decentralized communications and the expression of a diversity of opinions. The bi-directional nature of the Internet is another key attribute making the Internet a particularly effective environment for democratic discourse. This article concludes by claiming that the potential of the Internet is only tentatively actualized in the US, yet it has been hugely successful even if unevenly available. It is the success of the Internet thus far that is the driving force behind the attempts to reduce the barriers to entry such as; infrastructure architecture, costs and availability. The authors claim that through continued support of these efforts the Internet has the ability of supporting some of the highest goals of democracy.