View Thread > Internet & Society > Internet & Society Conference > Not only technology matters, but willpower
This December, the Berkman Center and some friends are hosting the next in our series of Internet & Society conferences. A placeholder site is here:
This year, we're taking a skeptical look at whether the Internet is transforming politics. We're interested in global themes, in campaigns of all sorts and all levels, and not just the US presidential election.
We'd love your help in pulling together the panels and discussions. What would be most helpful at this stage is to come up with the hardest, most interesting questions that might serve as the organizing principle for a specific panel or discussion session on the primary day of the conference, December 10, 2004. An example might be: 'Are campaigns more effective at engaging young people in campaigns by using Internet technologies?' Give us a better one.
The elections in the US and around the world in the past year or two have, at least the so the story goes, brought a fresh round of young people into the political process. One of the common themes of this involvement has been the use of technology platforms, e-mail, SMS, blogs and other ICT-related tools to link people up and fuel their involvement. I want to know: "Are the new participants in the political process, who have been experimenting in with new technologies in campaigns of all sorts, going to continue to stay involved in civic life and are they (we?) prepared to lead and capable of so doing?"
Polititians should be aware that we are more able to "watch" them (perhaps not that much like Big Brother), so there are more opportunitites to ask for accountability. To me, the issue here is how much people are willing to monitor polititians and how much access they have to new technologies which may ease accountability process.
Your question is certainly crucial: it is not enough that young people start voting because of their access to ICT, the issue is that they should stay involved in civic life. But aren't their other factors, not ICT related, very much involved in this?
Disenchantment with a heavy political system that perpetuates itself out of inertia, for instance?
Sure, the use of ICT may sharpen the impatience of young people towards this inertia, by contrast. But it is probably a recurrent factor.
At least now, basic information on the structure of civic decision is easily available. It was not when I came of age, 35 years ago. Many of my generation got very disenchanted with politics after a brief period of intese involvement, in part out of ignorance of the workings of the system.
The present youth might also become disenchanted out of this knowledge, though...
Secondly; what do we mean by preparedness; or should we question readiness instead?
If the incentives for involvement are clearly defined; the structural framework of operations will be defined accordingly and capacity may or may not be increased due to results.
The long-term-ness is a dimension to this question that I almost never hear played out. Interesting point, but I'm not sure how a conference would be able to drive it forward. How would you envision the conversation? One angle is to examine the co-evolution: not only are the new leaders wired, they're building processes more condusive to wired lifestyles. And case studies of how these two meet in the middle? Compare that with case studies of young activists suffering from internet burnout?