TAN+N -- Editorial Page

picture of Becker

Our Second Editorial

Rating Teledemocracy and
Direct Democracy Projects and Movements

Ted Becker

Since we went up on the Net in August, we have had a tremendous amount of feedback (most encouraging and positive), most of it tuning us in to the explosion of other relevant projects "out there." In addition, our own websurfing has found others of note and interest. So, our view of this website has been reinforced and the need for expansion and improvements has grown.

Welcome, then, to TAN+N2: The website and webzine of the Global Democratic Movement. We believe that our ideological foundation was made clear in Editorial 1. To elaborate on it: Our explicit goal is to maintain a website that will help inform and synergize those who are interested in finding new and better ways to empower the citizens of modern, hi-tech nations (and those on the way to that status) so that they may influence, or better yet, direct the major agendas, priorities, and policies of their polities.

So far what we have discovered is that the wide range of projects on the Net (and some that are not there yet) vary greatly in their commitment to that goal and in the degree to which projects actually "empower" citizens. Indeed, some of the claims to achieving this goal seem to us to be more hyperbole than reality, more puffery than the truth.

This has led us to consider the development of some sort of "rating" system, i.e., assigning an empowerment score to projects we include in the website. At this early point in time, we'd like to get it on the Net for one and all to see and judge for themselves. Although we will apply it in TAN+N2, we are open for serious discussion and input from our visitors and friends, and are more than willing to modify it in TAN+N3 ... depending on the feedback we get.

So, please feel free, if not welcome, to comment on how to improve our rating system ... or modify the rating we give to any of the projects in TAN+N2. We want to be as accurate as possible. That's our goal.

So, without further ado, here's the rating system of TAN+N2:

(1-2 lightning bolts) Reformist.

Projects that do not challenge the present structure of representative democracy but merely provide more information to citizens or better access to information, government, or politicians. More information and access is, at least technically, more power to citizens. So, these projects get a rating of "1." The kinds of projects that merit this rating include: freenets; websites of governments, politicians, and parties; electronic news and data banks; simple electronic referenda that do not have any "power" in them to influence elections, legislative processes, etc.

(3-4 lightning bolts) Republican/Transformational

Projects that actually transfer power to the citizenry at home to vote for candidates or strongly influence or bind officials on agendas, priorities, or issues.

We will also include in this category projects which are designed to empower citizens of representative democracies via new uses of modern communications and information technologies by new types of interactive, deliberative, informed public opinion; by letting them communicate and organize laterally in order to help solve actual problems; and via applications of conflict resolution to facilitate citizen consensuses on how to solve such problems.

These projects must either have a direct and binding impact on government officials or at least have the substantial promise of doing so.

(5-6 lightning bolts) Democratic/Transformational

Here's where our ideological leaning becomes most obvious, since we are convinced that the best way to improve modern representative democracy is to make any political system more directly democratic.

Thus, any project that is designed specifically to encourage more and/or more effective direct democracy, that is, to give citizens the power to directly enact the direction of their polity (i.e., agenda-setting) to set the priorities, and/or to make laws -- at any and/or all levels of government -- particularly through the use of modern telecommunications -- gets the highest rating of 5-6.

OK, we admit that this still leaves a lot of leeway for personal taste. But so what? What about Siskel and Ebert's "thumbs up" or "thumbs down"? Or what about Michelin's restaurant guide? Surely there's a lot of room for personal taste there too. Remember: If you don't like the value system, just surf on, there are lots of other websites that will be much more to your liking. If you do and want to help us get better, we'd love to hear from you ... and many thanks.

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