Dear All,especially ICT enthusiast,
We have been promoting the use of technology, particularly ICT, in our work in promoting good governance and fighting corruption. I think most of us, having seen or applied working ICT tools in our work, are convinced that ICT adds value to our work.
There is, however, a big debate in the ICT community about the impact of ICT and technology in general to our society. There is a more specific debate on the effects of ICT on democracy, for instance.
amongst us, let us start a discussion on this as well.
let me share with you two articles, one written by Adam Thierer (http.techliberation.com) outlining the debate between internet optimists and pessimists; and another which i wrote, a review of Evgeny Morozov's "The Net Delusion" (2010), looking on the debate on the impact of web on democratization.
I will soon be writing a paper on this debate, particularly focusing on our work at GYAC. In the meantime, enjoy reading the two articles. And let's get the discussion on!
Article 1: Are You An Internet Optimist or Pessimist? The Great Deb...
- The impact of technological change on culture, learning, and morality has long been the subject of intense debate, and every technological revolution brings out a fresh crop of both pessimists and pollyannas. Indeed, a familiar cycle has repeat itself throughout history whenever new modes of production (from mechanized agriculture to assembly-line production), means of transportation (water, rail, road, or air), energy production processes (steam, electric, nuclear), medical breakthroughs (vaccination, surgery, cloning), or communications techniques (telegraph, telephone, radio, television) have appeared on the scene.
- The cycle goes something like this. A new technology appears. Those who fear the sweeping changes brought about by this technology see a sky that is about to fall. These “techno-pessimists” predict the death of the old order (which, ironically, is often a previous generation’s hotly-debated technology that others wanted slowed or stopped). Embracing this new technology, they fear, will result in the overthrow of traditions, beliefs, values, institutions, business models, and much else they hold sacred.
- The pollyannas, by contrast, look out at the unfolding landscape and see mostly rainbows in the air. Theirs is a rose-colored world in which the technological revolution du jour is seen as improving the general lot of mankind and bringing about a better order. If something has to give, then the old ways be damned! For such “techno-optimists,” progress means some norms and institutions must adapt—perhaps even disappear—for society to continue its march forward.
- Our current Information Revolution is no different. It too has its share of techno-pessimists and techno-optimists. Indeed, before most of us had even heard of the Internet, people were already fighting about it—or at least debating what the rise of the Information Age meant for our culture, society, and economy.
Article 2: Internet Interrogation - A review of Evgeny Kossov's "Th...
- An interesting article, entitled “Facebook ‘pushing Filipino rebels into oblivion’”  written by Agense France –Presse (AFP), came out of the Inquirer today (7 April 2011). Government peace negotiating panel (GRP) Chief Negotiator Alex Padilla was quoted saying that the internet helped steer away university students from the rebels. Rebellious youth vent online, in Facebook for example, rather than take up arms against the state. Padilla noted that most rebel leaders are over 70 as “there has been a lack of, or dearth of youthful ideologues actually being brought up.”
- While the article clearly refers only to leftist rebel groups – the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), the issue on the effect of internet on activism, in its different shades and forms, has steered much debate.
- But before going into the debate, there are just some points that need to be clarified: (1) the left, and/or the activist, in the Philippines do not refer to a single entity; (2) while activism is usually associated with the different groups in the left movement, the left does not have the monopoly on activism; (3) the left movement, in broad terms, can be classified into the democratic (or ‘moderate’) and the undemocratic (or the ‘extreme’); and (4) the difference between the broad division is hardly recognized by some people in the media, the armed forces, including the police, as well as the public. Rigoberto Tiglao, for example, mistakenly interchanged Akbayan from Bayan Muna. Though the democratic left is fast gaining support from the public, still, in general, being left or an activist is projected and perceived negatively. By this perception alone, fewer and fewer young people are interested into being an activist, more so a leftist. Possibly, similarities in activism among young people in other countries can be seen.
- With this context, the contending side of the debate, whether or not the internet (or the web) is advantageous or disadvantageous to activists and activism, particularly on the process of democratization, is better framed. However, the case of CPP-NPA can also be a different issue all together. I could be that with or without the internet, young people, even wanting change or being an activist, do not see that taking up arms as a reasonable form of struggle or of activism.
- This paper explores this debate by characterizing the internet, more specifically Web 2.0 and its impact on democracy and authoritarianism, most of which are discussed in Evgeny Morozov’s “Net Delusion.” The paper also presents a challenge to internet/web users – citizens and activists, to interrogate the value of the web in advancing democratic and progressive agenda.