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Titill

Democracy and the Internet. The theoretical foundations and practical applications

Útdráttur

In this essay I will investigate democracy in relation to the Internet. I will approach this goal from two different directions, by discussing and analyzing theoretical issues concerning democracy and the Internet on one hand and then by describing in detail an experiment I participated in relating to an introduction of a democratic structure to an online society on the other hand. My guiding light throughout this discussion will be the concept of ‘deliberative democracy’ as that was the blueprint used for the experiment in implementing the players’ democracy in the online community.
First, I will approach democracy from a theoretical standpoint. Modern states that are called ‘democratic’ are so diverse that one could be tempted to believe they are not operating within the same political framework. I will shed a light on this ambiguity of the concept by looking at three main ‘camps’ of thought in relation to cyber-democracy and also by discussing how it is possible to compare systems of governance and then specifically how we can compare democratic systems. The Internet has held, and still does, great promises when it comes to augmenting democracy that have yet to be realized. This public space is very useful as a viewpoint on the democratic tradition in terms of how the schools of thought are using it and how they could be using it.
The second part will be dedicated to the democratic institution that was introduced into EVE Online, a popular online computer game that is frequented by more than 300.000 participants. Having taken the leading role in this project within the company, CCP, that produces and maintains the game, I have a firm grasp of all things relating to the game and the introduction and evolution of the democracy therein. I will argue that the users of the game form a society within it and as such the democratic system can be used to draw conclusions about societies that are not online.
My main conclusions are that on one hand the Internet is a very powerful tool that can be used to strengthen democratic systems in terms of deliberations, data gathering and analysis of the matters being discussed. On the other hand it is apparent from my research that in-person meetings cannot be replaced by the Internet and are, as such, necessary to conclude the democratic ‘leg–work’ that has been performed online.

Birting
25.5.2010


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