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 obtain files on local civic events, community opinion or government documents.
Though this information is presented through a broadcast medium (where the individual cannot respond to
the presentation) it provides useful data for 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.
Government 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,
electronic technologies can create modes of popular discourse which undermine conventional hierarchies
and encourage participatory democracy.