Digital democracy debate often has had more to do with the potential role of technology in alternative, idealized visions of deliberative or participatory democracy than with representative democratic practice as we know it. Real-world democracies are distinguished less by informed debate or active ongoing citizen engagement (frequent topics of digital democratic discourse) than by basic civil liberties, relatively free and fair periodic elections, and the separation of powers. The lack of focus on democratic practice in favor of potentials reflects the unhappy coincidence that many contemporary democratic theorists and much of the digital avant-garde are more interested in alternative visions than in existing realities. The result is that we may have spent more time discussing what digital technologies might mean for forms of democracy that do not exist than what digital technologies mean for democracies that do exist and that in many places today—despite global enthusiasm for the label “democracy”—face serious problems of legitimacy, efficiency, and institutional integrity.
|Publication status||Published - 2013|