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The Forum > Article Comments > Never mind the service delivery, feel the citizen engagement > Comments

Never mind the service delivery, feel the citizen engagement : Comments

By Martin Stewart-Weeks, published 24/5/2007

Talk of e-democracy and using new technologies for citizen engagement has prompted mixed reactions - from bursts of unsustainable techno-hype to deep scepticism.

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There is a saying about the evolution of governance which divides it into three steps and goes something like:
With less than 50% of the people able to read and write (in other words are aware of how a government works), a Dictatorship or Monarchy works best.
Once more than half of the population falls into the "educated" category, Democracy (rule by the people) works best. That is, people feel by being given a vote that has to be considered they have a controlling input into Government. But in reality it is a placebo which covers up the fact that in the end you finish up with a pseudo dictatorship, governance by numbers that can be manipulated.
And once over 90% of the population is educated,aware of the process of governance, the democratic form of government breaks down, because people realise its major weakness, its inability to handle multiple choices. You can not please everybody in a system of majority rule.

It is a sort of "Moore's Law" of human society, evolving, with the aid of modern communication technologies, at an exponential rate towards the upper end of the level of democracy. but what is it evolving into?
I see the examples mentioned in your article, public Internet forums, Wikipedia, individual web pages, blog pages and the proliferation of mobile phones as an indication towards a form of government less driven by dominance, but rather by intellectual realisation of the need to be creative. As you say, lets harness people's instincts and practices of self-governance.

What would we call a form of government beyond democracy. At the risk of sounding banal I suggest we shorten the apparently accepted term e-democracy to emocracy; the next step beyond "de"
Posted by Alfred, Friday, 25 May 2007 10:00:24 AM
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I am surprised you haven't had more pecks at this article.

My own opinion is that the policies of government are coming down faster than the access to the technologies we need to gain from either the policies and or the technology.

Ie: In Cooktown and most of Cape York we have little or no access to FAX - PHOTO COPY - Resources that encourage civic administration and engagement process or "knowledge transfer".

ie: Yes - We pay a small private fee - each time at the library for the Internet - which is good but really not socially, culturally, economically or politically progressive.

The local government offices including Council all act as though they are superior. They intimidate all efforts of equality, and fail to understand the meaning of "sharing service provision" or "resource access".

Regional Offices from Cairns - Briabane and Canberra all point us to their individual "web-sites" as though we have the resources to action their policies... which YES - we would like to.

We have NO COMMUNITY SPACE and NO Transport system that supports the "SOCIAL CAPITAL" that would otherwise be available within our regional communities.

ie: Barrier - Except for the new road in from Cairns we are surrounded by dirt roads and high fuel prices.... repairs are beyond accessible with car service and repair fees.

Individuals working to CONNECT - find it hard to sustain their "productive" energies - it is all a (life-quality) mishap - it (e-edmocracy) might be out there but it is a "whole" network strategy - that would make the difference.

Our problems in Cape York are no more different to other third world regions and for that reason - deserve just as much collaboration, effort and attentative care as the focus of those frameworks.

I think looking at what we each spend our time DOING.... is the only way we might all get through to the next phase... using information and technology. Until then there is no balance working.
Posted by miacat, Saturday, 26 May 2007 4:49:44 PM
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Miacat, I sure don't wish to populate the peninsula. Things can be made tough if you try hard enough.

I recently connected thru satellite, cost of installation, zilch, as it is subsidised by govt. I have broadband now. The cost now is less than the connection I had thru ISDN by some $40 per month. The connection is running faultlessly and I'm "permanently" connected.
I find after my first month of use I have used 1.2 gig of download and pay 8cents for every mb over my base of 1 gig.
I avoid heavy downloads, movies, graphics where possible but don't find that hard.
I'm a pensioner and am happy to pay $49 per month for 1gig. Priority of where you spend your money is the only reason for nor availing yourself I believe. Can't help with roads sorry to say.
Posted by fluff4, Sunday, 3 June 2007 9:12:50 AM
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