Machiavelli Confronts 21st Century Digital Technology: Democracy in a Network Society

18 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2009  

Walter S. Baer

Annenberg Center for Communication

Nikita Borisov

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

George Danezis

Microsoft Corporation

Seda F. Guerses

KU Leuven

Marek Klonowski

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Miroslaw Kutylowski

Wroclaw University of Technology

Ursula Maier-Rabler

ICT&S Center; University of Salzburg

Tal Moran

Harvard University

Andreas Pfitzmann

Technical University of Dresden

Bart Preneel

K. U. Leuven

Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi

Ruhr University Bochum

Thierry Vedel

Center for Political Research, Sciences Po Paris

Tracy Westen

University of Southern California

Filip Zagorski

Wroclaw University of Technology

William H. Dutton

Michigan State University - Quello Center

Date Written: December 10, 2009

Abstract

Computer science and informatics have great potential to improve citizen engagement with public officials, voting, access to public information and other democratic processes. Yet progress towards achieving these aims on a wide scale remains slow. A main reason for this lack of progress is that digital technologies create the potential to alter significantly the relative influence of different groups and actors in the political process, and thereby quickly become embroiled in a political debate that crosses and complicates technical discussions. These political conflicts and uncertainties have been made more transparent in applications of the Internet and related Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to support democratic processes. The challenges created by these techno-political tensions, and how to address them, were the overall cross-cutting themes that emerged from the interdisciplinary Dagstuhl Seminar on Democracy in a Network Society, on which this paper is based. The seminar involved a multidisciplinary group of computer and social scientists, legal scholars, practitioners and policy experts who aimed to chart the latest technical approaches to e-democracy and governance. Their intention was not to tell politicians how to maintain and enhance their power with the support of new technologies, in the manner of Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli’s 16th Century adviser to the prince. Instead, participants explored how new technologies could enhance or constrain the power of politicians and the general public, depending on how the technologies and the systems based on them are designed and implemented.

Suggested Citation

Baer, Walter S. and Borisov, Nikita and Danezis, George and Guerses, Seda F. and Klonowski, Marek and Kutylowski, Miroslaw and Maier-Rabler, Ursula and Moran, Tal and Pfitzmann, Andreas and Preneel, Bart and Sadeghi, Ahmad-Reza and Vedel, Thierry and Westen, Tracy and Zagorski, Filip and Dutton, William H., Machiavelli Confronts 21st Century Digital Technology: Democracy in a Network Society (December 10, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1521222 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1521222

Walter S. Baer

Annenberg Center for Communication ( email )

University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-7725
United States

Nikita Borisov

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
IL
+1 217 903-4401 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://hatswitch.org/~nikita/

George Danezis

Microsoft Corporation ( email )

One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
United States

Seda F. Guerses

KU Leuven ( email )

Oude Markt 13
Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant 3000
Belgium

Marek Klonowski

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Miroslaw Kutylowski

Wroclaw University of Technology ( email )

ul. Wybrzeze Wyspianskiego 27
Wroclaw, 50-370
Poland
+48713202109 (Phone)
+48713202105 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://kutylowski.im.pwr.wroc.pl

Ursula Maier-Rabler

ICT&S Center ( email )

Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse 18
Salzburg, 5020
Austria
+43 662 8044 4800 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.icts.uni-salzburg.at

University of Salzburg ( email )

Akademiestraße 26
Salzburg, Salzburg 5020
Austria

Tal Moran

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Andreas Pfitzmann

Technical University of Dresden ( email )

Bart Preneel

K. U. Leuven ( email )

Oude Markt 13
Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant
Belgium

Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi

Ruhr University Bochum ( email )

Bochum, NRW

Thierry Vedel

Center for Political Research, Sciences Po Paris ( email )

98 rue de l'Université
Paris, 75007
France

Tracy Westen

University of Southern California ( email )

3502 Watt Way, Suite 304
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
310-470-6590 x114 (Phone)
310-475-3752 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cgs.org

Filip Zagorski

Wroclaw University of Technology ( email )

ul. Smoluchowskiego 25
Wroclaw, 50-372
Poland

William H. Dutton (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - Quello Center ( email )

406 Communication Arts Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States

HOME PAGE: http://quello.msu.edu

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