The Net and the Future of Politics

I can’t say that I have ever had the chance to experience e voting or e-Democracy as I am not a citizen of this country.  Nor have I been able to use these services in my native country, as they were not available before I left for the states as a student in the mid-nineties. 

For starters, I believe that evolving and e-government removes numerous financial, physical and annoying obstacles that affect a majority of people when it comes to issues revolving around governmental workings.  In regards to voting and having a voice, citizens no longer have to engage in self funded, mass migrations to a community voting poll, just to wait in long lines at a physical location that can only service a given amount of voices for a rather short period of time.  Also citizens interested and active in their government, be it local or national, no longer have to deal with telephonic departmental rerouting to reach the desired representative or clerk and then pay for any hard copies of information requested to arrive via mail (resulting in an extended waiting time).  But as Howard Rheingold, in his paper “Ecologizing Mobile Media” states that to every advantage there is an equal disadvantage.  As e-government and e voting eradicates certain obstacles for people who have not the necessary means, it creates a new set of equally imposing hindrances.

Citizens no longer need a car, a phone and a lot of spare time to access government information and go vote, but in the case of e-government and evolving the new stepping stone to overcome is access to the necessary hardware and software required for participation; this costs money.  The benefits for e-government and evolving are obvious, any citizen, ideally now has the opportunity to access any information desired during anytime of day or night for a minimal cost.  The downfall being that computers are expensive and not all areas of the nation have access to reliable and fast internet.  The ideal solution would be, it seems, public access to the internet to everyone.

This would be in the form of libraries, schools and universities.  However the same problem of finding that affects the poor citizens now also affects the poorer communities of the nation.  Not all schools, universities and libraries are granted equal funding.  In the case of the paper “the Net and the Future of Politics: The Ascendancy of the Commons”.  I believe the government should take a look at some of the social democratic countries of the world, like Germany and France, to observe public services at work.  The solution, in my mind, is not to focus funding on making e government more appealing via internet video, but to focus on creating an easy to use basic system, maybe not the most advanced and pretty, that flawlessly works on every range of modem, from the 28-8 to the fastest cable.  Once an efficient model is in place, further funding should be geared towards providing funding to giving every library, school and university the basics of the hard- and software allowing for internet access.  Once all the public institiutions are updated, nationwide, and people are made available to treach the functions of the Internet, then we can say that everyone has a voisce in their government.

Thomas Troisch

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