Access to Information
One way in which electronic networks can increase democracy is by broadening
citizens' access to
whatever information they want or need. Increased
information allows citizens to make better arguments
and more knowledgeable
decisions about issues which affect themselves and their communities. Because
democracy in theory purports government of the people and by the people,
access to more information
enhances the original notion of self-government.
As Adam Lake observes, "This empowers the average
citizen of this country
more than the founding fathers could have envisioned." In addition, "It
isn't so much
new abilities which have been gained. What has been gained
is a tremendous increase in speed (Lake 1)."
Within seconds, one can
files on local civic events, community opinion or government documents.
Though this information is presented through a broadcast medium (where
individual cannot respond to
the presentation) it provides useful data
private and public life.
But is democracy fully realized through information accessibility? One
might argue in Marxist terms that
those who continue to manage the means
of production retain an unfair power over the general population.
and corporations have the abilities (and motives) to utilize the one-way
flow of information for
their own agendas.
Fortunately, electronic networks like the Internet allow the average citizen
to publish her or his opinion in the
same space as established institutions.
While a person may not have the ability to question an on-line text,
technologies can create modes of popular discourse which undermine conventional
and encourage participatory democracy.