How writers and technologists might reduce the democratic deficit

miljenko-logo-multi-shadowI’ve just written a piece over at my political blog (background to this place at blinkingti.me).

It’s on the need to battle rather more after the upcoming general election than during.  You can find my post here.

I propose a number of ways of dealing with the democratic deficit I’m sure will continue to grow.  I’ll make the descriptions briefer for the purposes of convenient discussion:

  • #Hyperlocal solutions: I’ve discussed these in more detail at eiohel.wordpress.com and mylocal.wiki/… (if interested in reading up some background to these blogs and projects, take a look at these intro pages first – and then click through to  the pages themselves).  I think #hyperlocal as a tech-tool and environment could help us all begin to take up the slack that a declining local mainstream media is manifesting more and more.
  • Campaigning solutions: more at whyiknow.info.  Here, we create environments not based around geography nor even common interest but, rather, around common skillsets: yes, we may get into campaigning via our fascination with cycling, but once we’ve learnt “how-to” in one context, this can predispose us better to campaigning in others.  And in a democracy, one of our key objectives must be to break down conceptual walls and silos, not build them up all the time.
    • Campaigning solutions have two aspects too: national campaigns and local ones.  One of the objectives of whyiknow.info – or projects which could aim to do the same – is to facilitate the connections between nationally launched initiatives and local communities, so that synergies could be generated in both directions.
    • One example of this at national level could be the Guardian‘s Membership and Live programmes – still nascent but nevertheless taking shape quickly as a repository and space for defending the national and local public, civil and civic spheres from the kind of private power Roosevelt warned us about a long time ago.
  • Finally, whilst content has become unmediated through its invasion by tools of self-publishing, and visibility is the only thing which divides the successful from the unsuccessful, tech has become more and more a mediated environment, where those of us (like myself) with limited user-level skillsets find ourselves dependent on others who know how to manage the software and hardware in question.  This, for a devolved democracy, is not good at all.  It needs to be addressed as an issue: we need to move beyond a concept of digital inclusion and towards a concept of digital empowerment.

What, then, would I like to contribute?  What am I looking for in this next stage of my working-life?  To engage – in my case by adding to the mix what I am good at: ideas, publishing process and content – with democratically-minded developers and technologists, prepared to use their skillsets to inform and devolve democracy to its necessary roots – in order to defend it against the growing deficit already mentioned.

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