Research on Open Data and Transparency

Digital Democracy: Expect the Unexpected

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Here’s my short submission on the internet and digital democracy to the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy

Digital Democracy Evidence Ben Worthy

My conclusion on the impact of digital tools on how democracy works is to expect the unexpected:

‘Expect the Unexpected

Taking the above factors into account, the effects of different online tools can be very different.

  • Information and tools may be used in very different ways.
  • Online participation is variable and shaped by context, design and use patterns.
  • Emerging evidence reveals ‘niche’ patterns of use and diverse groups in society using information and tools to very different ends. This could be the public, either politically engaged or curious, as well as journalists, NGOs and businesses.
  • While the idea behind online participation appears simple, research points to many complications and nuances in how information is processed or used.

Rather than ‘regular’ raising of issues, the pattern is of what is called ‘punctuated equilibrium’ with mechanisms bringing sudden and unexpected issues to the top of the agenda.From FOI to e- petitions, online or offline tools raise ‘sudden’ accountability issues that arise without warning. Creating a range of tools will allow the public and others to tailor their interaction in the way they choose. However, the impact is likely to be varied and unpredictable’

You can see some of the other submissions here


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