Smart Democracy

Vincenzo Susca moderates a group of thought leaders from around the world on the topic of "Smart Democracy" Vincenzo and his panel are contributors to the Culture and Technology International (CTi).

What is "Smart Democracy"? The earliest critic of democracy, an Athenian known as the Old Oligarch, wrote that “among the common people are the greatest ignorance, ill-discipline, and depravity.” Aristotle argued that the need to make a living prevents most people from acquiring the education and developing the virtues necessary for running the state. He said the “best form of state will not admit them to citizenship.” And Socrates famously sneered at the notion that any “tinker, cobbler, sailor, passenger; rich and poor, high and low” could be consulted on “an affair of state.”More

No I’m not the moderator of this panel but I want to welcome and thank you all. Vincenzo and I have contributed to several books on e-democracy. My own feeling is that the word democracy somehow doesn’t apply anymore; but we have no other and we need to keep the best of democracy
Making civic “things” into ambient beacons allows for an opportunity for policymakers, business leaders, scholars and other decision-makers to gain insight, share ideas, and access high-level resources. This changes everything about representative democracy.
The leitmotif of 2015 is the Internet of Democracy: the IoT. Many see it as an “Agent of Democracy & Civic Engagement” It’s not only about shouting the loudest with your SOCIAL MEDIA VOICE it is about broadcasting your DATA STREAM.
And what is the best of democracy? Individual freedom and an equilibrated participatory relationship between rulers and ruled. The ruler should be bound by responsibility. In the era of transparency, compensation is honour not power.
I would suggest that we are far from having the “best of democracy” today - in any country. Oligarchy and plutocracy are better descriptors, esp when ppl are manipulated to vote against their own interest (eg. US Tea Party Republicans). Post-Occupy must get much smarter via tech
... is postmodernity bringing us toward a post-democracy?
Good Q, @vincenzo_susca. The moral relativism often found in postmodern behaviour can generate both dysfunctional post-democracy (reversal of inclusion via pseudo-democratic oligarchy) and retrieval of the Athenian ecclesia (eg. Occupy). Neither works esp well for/by the people
How could we think to a smarter democracy by network culture after Obama? Shall we imagine a democracy whithout representation?
Certainly. We already have taxation without representation! One of the problem of the party system is that it doesn’t represent svn half of the voters and clumsy strategies as in Italy are clumsily set in motion for unsatisfactory results! Enough with the party system!
Digital media is the new representative democracy. It has allowed democracy advocates to keep political memes alive and to make their issue go viral.
If digital media is the new representational democracy, it’s even more problematic than old RepDem, since it accelerates populism to point of reversal, sound bites->sound bytes. Misconception based on “truthy” memes ensconces oligarchy and subverts true, active participation.
But ultimately is that not what 140 character dialogue has done to the political debate: more reach, less content. Retweets and memes are how we rate leadership.
On the other side of the technology wheel data has empowered the citizen. Personal environmental sensors worn by citizens can disabuse misinformation by authorities as it had in Japan street the nuclear reactor debacle.
To Mark’s excellent point(s): let’s note that ThinWire allowing us 280 characters is not only a generous increase to our prolixity, but also a new level of cognitive conditioning, one that can foster an intellectual bias in Twitter. On populism next tweet to tetradman!
Digital media is not the new representation, it is action, real-time pressure about discernible and prioritized emergencies, to say nothing about their unmasking powers. In a do-it-yourself culture you don’t need representation, you need paid and accountable government.
For me the clue of democracy is deliberation, not only opinion. And deliberate suposes information+reflection+dialogue. Are we ready to deliberate on line? The binary “like” or “don’t like” is not enough! We need to invent new platforms for dialogue.
Google launched Sidewalk labs today to reinvent our cities run by Dan Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor of New York City. Ultimately, our political representatives working with Leviathans such as Google are providing smart governance. Leticia, maybe this is a new techno platform.
@LSobern Google’s Sidewalk Lab is architecting city solutions for citizens and government. The new techno city hall.
Great and promissing, @ImpulseEconomy! Let’s see how Sidewalk Labs work. Conversations for deliberation and creation must be understood so as the platforms can be adapted to them as the shoe to the foot. Thank you!
Digital media brings many new opportunities. However, key for the development of a true democracy is the ability to collaborate between us through spaces for deliberation. The digital world allows for the creation, expansion, and large participation on these spaces/platforms.
Umberto Eco yesterday told that Internet has given to the stupids the power of talking, as if they were great intellectuals. Are we sure that is so bad that everyone could talk on the web? Isn’t more dangerous a society for which the elites can say the Truth and the others have to listen to it?
Technological interventions can’t unchange uninformed rants advancing partisan interests that pass as discourse these days. With enough money, Donald Trump’s BS becomes presidential platform. With enough bandwidth anyone with similar ignorance & arrogance gets the same amplifier
About this wind of stupidity, I’ve just read a brilliant paper by Adam Arvidsen on Crowds and Values, a keen look at crowd phenomena and emotion currents on Twitter. It’s not all always stupid!
Here is the reference:
Particularly interesting is the imitation (or meme) theory applied to the use of hashtags and retweets and their effects on instant crowd building.
As I was writing in the publicy panel, if privacy is over, so is democracy. Both are intricably tied by their origin in literacy and opacity. Both are already gone. We only pretend they still exist because our social order is still based on appearances. Question is in next tweet.
Question: In the neo - instant - feudalism of hashtags, retweets and followers and celebrity cult, how do we envisage a social order where the rights of the individual are reconciled with those of the tribes, whatever they are in the Long Tail ? Tribal federalism? Global Commons?
Now, my intention is not to discourage our thoughts about smart democracy. However that still needs to be defined and I am not the authority on the subject. I assume that it is based on smart citizens, a tribe of sorts. But what are they smart about ? and how ? with what tools ?
Individual (and tribal) rights are conventionally granted by the nation-state, which does not exist in the instant/neo-feudalism of social media. Fundamentally, who grants rights? Behaviours are somewhat mediated by equivalent of excommunication - bans/ignores/etc. 1/2
2/2 When we figure out intersection of local rights & participatory obligations among multiple social subnets, new/smart democracy creates rules for active participation, policy creation, etc. Given climate chng deniers, antivaxxers, white supremacists, etc. how smart can we be?
Re your last line Mark, did you see Merchants of doubt ? It is as damning of our so called democracy as Food.Inc and Inside Job. So what criteria legal and political do you foresee to establish this intersection on a fair and socially acceptable basis ? i.e. “smart democracy” ?
Hard to say what legal & political criteria will create neo-democracy as fair, socially-acceptable, & based on well-informed participation as opposed to “truthy” populism. Democracy has always been based on the supporting institutions; merely voting creates sham governance. 1/2
2/2 I suspect that a retrieval of lessons from Ancient Greece might be in order, with renewed, contemporary versions of the ecclesia (general assembly) and boule (governing council) representing new demes (local village) and phylei (resource balanced tribes of demes).
Another way of seeing it, @MarkFederman, @ddek: an essential part of the “smartness” of a group is 1: good and pertinent shared information. 2: the goals they try to achieve. And 3: the process of dialogue between them. Their conclusions, anyway, might be wrong...
Dada is a sort of great grand-parent of the internet and social media with their broken, shattered messages. When I skim FB, it reads like the poetry of democracy.
Interesting @TomKlinkowstein . Dada was a collective, social meme. A physical precursor to internet activism. A urinal turned on it’s side titled “Fountain” was anti art: Anti status quo.
Smartness criteria, @LSobern @ddek, are subverted by contemporary gov’tality. Anti-knowledge (vs. pt 1) and attacks on education and institutions that promote discourse rather than partisan attacks (vs. pt 3) tend to preclude smart democracy in the contemporary political context
Because social media technologies amplify voices w/o discrimination or privilege, ultra-minority discourses are given equal weight to dominant knowledge. As anti-hegemonic practice this is good. As dissemination of populist BS, less so. Smart democracy must be able to distinguish
@MarkFederman, don’t you think that “smart citizenship” would mean exactly that: being able to distinguish the quality ot the good and bad discourses, the affordable information, the coherence of the self-proclaimed leaders?
Ingenious form of participatory democracy at the municipal level in the Spanish town of Jun, where Twitter has replaced civic bureaucracy.
.@LSobern Indeed, smart citizenship means well-informed, well-reasoned, and engaged. Partly enabled by social media as well as vested-interest cable news, these three prereqs are systemically being eliminated by partisan and other (sometimes completely stupid) interests.
Yes, @MarkFederman, The Jun experience in Granada (Spain) shows how leadership and political power are changing -not disappearing- through the digital participation of citizens. The leader role is becoming more inspirational, goal-centered, and important.
There’s a mithy around Democracy been discussed. Since its origin this form of government (the best we have) is excluding, leaving a heritage of intolerance
An important issue to address is the kind of governance that accommodates different demands w/o prior hegemonic thought
Social midia spread voices w/o discrimination & had as a result the reducing of contention that formatted minds and social life . Almost everything has become defensible. Technological tools are available, at the moment is necessary to stablish an inclusive police.
Dear All, lets continue this conversation. The workshops in Ars Electronica went superbly and merit to be carried forward. Here is a new tool I discovered during a presentation at EXPO in Milan:
Check it out!