Digital Democracy: Episode IV — A New Hope: How a Corporation for Public Software Could Transform Digital Engagement for Government and Civil Society

Digital Government: Research and Practice (DGOV), 1(1), Article No. 6, February 2020

17 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2020

See all articles by John Gastil

John Gastil

Pennsylvania State University

Todd Davies

Stanford University - Symbolic Systems Program; Center for the Study of Language and Information

Date Written: December 15, 2019

Abstract

Although successive generations of digital technology have become increasingly powerful in the past 20 years, digital democracy has yet to realize its potential for deliberative transformation. The undemocratic exploitation of massive social media systems continued this trend, but it only worsened an existing problem of modern democracies, which were already struggling to develop deliberative infrastructure independent of digital technologies. There have been many creative conceptions of civic tech, but implementation has lagged behind innovation. This article argues for implementing one such vision of digital democracy through the establishment of a public corporation. Modeled on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the United States, this entity would foster the creation of new digital technology by providing a stable source of funding to nonprofit technologists, interest groups, civic organizations, government, researchers, private companies, and the public. Funded entities would produce and maintain software infrastructure for public benefit. The concluding sections identify what circumstances might create and sustain such an entity.

Keywords: Civic engagement, deliberative democracy, government consultation, nonprofit technology, political participation, public media

JEL Classification: H54, Z18

Suggested Citation

Gastil, John and Davies, Todd R., Digital Democracy: Episode IV — A New Hope: How a Corporation for Public Software Could Transform Digital Engagement for Government and Civil Society (December 15, 2019). Digital Government: Research and Practice (DGOV), 1(1), Article No. 6, February 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3542287

John Gastil

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

Todd R. Davies (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Symbolic Systems Program ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-2150
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~davies

Center for the Study of Language and Information ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-4115
United States

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