Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Musings on "Cardus - Whither Democracy 2.0?"

This blog post is partly to test out the new comment-share button the contributor, Rosie Perera has put in her Comment website.   I had thought it will paste the entire article on this blog. Alas! It only places the subject heading and the link is embedded within. You can read the full article by clicking the link below.

My Comments
Using the popular technological term Web 2.0, the author argues that the concept of democracy in government is, like technology, tends to be more neutral. Its pros and cons depend on how we use it.  Using various studies and bibliography to back up her observations, she poses interesting parallels between technology and government, as well as how technology is shaping the voting patterns of tomorrow. Some uses like 'armchair activism' are largely 'ineffective.'

I like the way the author puts it, saying "The Internet is a megaphone for extremism." I agree. In fact, for people who has said that the Internet has made more information freely available, I will also say that it has facilitated another kind of 'extremism.' One of my biggest concerns is that the Internet is one that not only makes information more readily available, it allows one an easier and quicker way to look for views that AGREE with one's perspective. In other words, a bigot can easily search for support on the Internet and band together many groups of people who think the same way. Is that 'Democracy' or is it more a rallying cry. That said, political activists can readily harness the power of the Internet to fill up their supporter ranks. The danger is that one may no longer care for truth per se, but accumulates anything or anyone who is willing to sing the same song or to toe the same line. 

Toward the end, the author poses 4 excellent pointers on how to participate profitably in Democracy 2.0, lest it withers by the wayside. Be well-informed, be aware of the sources, be thoughtful prior to sending, and be 'reflective and prayerful.' Those are truly important factors that needs to be adhered to. I agree with them, but would like to add one more, which I call the 'enabler' of these four pointers. (sorry Rosie, I'm trying to steal your thunder). Before I go to that, let me offer just one critique even though I have a few more (only one, a tiny one, as I treasure my friendship with the author).

Here goes.... The four pointers are not exactly for 'Christians' only. Perhaps the fourth one is more relevant, but even then, I believe the article is for everyone who goes online. After all, we are not talking about a democracy within a theocratic society. We are trying to practice a democracy within an increasingly 'secular' setting. That said, if the author could modify this, it could mean a wider readership base.

'Enabler' of the Four Excellent Pointers
From my experience, there is one cavaet before we can make these happen. We must learn to bide our time. In an Internet age, we get quite testy when people do not respond quickly to our emails, thinking that we are ignored intentionally. That calls for humility to give the other persons the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are busy. Maybe they are caught up with something else more important. Maybe my mail gets slipped into the spam box accidentally. Maybe the recipient is very sick and so on.

The converse is equally true. As much as we expect quick response from people, we must take care not to be too hasty with a trigger-happy keyboard response, letting our fingers work faster than our heads and hearts. This has caused some people who responded sooner, only to regret their mails later.  I remember that GMAIL has recently provided an email facility to UNSEND one's email.

My point is, timing is key whenever we work in a technological age. We need to be patient, and to approach matters with a loving heart. The virtues of patience and love are like seeds that grow on good soil They require the element of time. The author's last pointer comes closest to my 'enabler.' We need time to be prayerful and reflective. Not too fast, not too slow but just right. Otherwise, 'Anything 2.0' will wither in a matter of time.



Rosie Perera said...

Wow, I'm honored to be considered worthy of a review by Conrade Yap and be among the writers he reviews so excellently on this blog.

Actually, I didn't add that comment-share button. Comment was testing it out by adding it to my article, so I checked it to see if it worked. Evidently it did. :-)

Good critique. I'll only say one minor thing in response. You suggested how I might gain "a wider readership base" for my article. It was an article for Comment Magazine which has a clearly Christian mandate. So I'm not necessarily looking for a wider audience than what Comment reaches already. That said, I have some family members who are not Christians who have read it and liked it, so I guess I was not saying anything which would be offputting to people of other faiths or no faith at all. That is usually my intent in my writing even for Comment.

There's a problem with gaining too wide an audience though, one I'm not eager to have: and that is you have too many people you need to correspond with! I don't have time for it. So I'd be happy to reach 10 or 15 people who engage significantly with my writing. If a bunch of others skim it and say "Meh!" what's that to me?

YAPdates said...

You are being too kind and generous with your words. I am flattered. My blog is but a micro part of the Internet universe. Thanks for clarifying the comment-share button.

While it is good on one hand to maintain a small group of audience, it is not a bad thing if the readership base gets expanded. A good thing needs to be shared more widely right?

Thanks again.


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