Berkman Conference: Internet and Democracy

This week I am in Budapest for the Berkman Center’s conference on “Building a Framework for the Study of Internet and Democracy” (and the Global Voices 2008 Summit later in the week). I have been invited to moderate the panel on “Democratization and Authoritarian Regimes,” which closely overlaps with the topic of my dissertation.

The conference will include the following 5 panels:

  • Networked Public Sphere and Media. This panel will ask whether networked communication will lead to more democratic, deliberative and inclusive public spheres. The panel will include presentations by Lance Bennett, Bruce Etling and Michael Xenos.
  • Methodology. As the title suggests, this panel will address challenges in methodology and research design vis-a-vis the study of the Internet’s impact on democracy. Michael Best, Corinna di Gennaro and Victoria Stodden will figure as panelists.
  • Political Parties and Elections. Does the Internet make a difference to election campaigning by increasing citizen participation and turnout? The panelists for this discussion will be Urs Gasser, Rachel Gibson and Stephen Ward.
  • E-Mobilization and Participation. This panel addresses the topic of digital activism. Networked technologies are said to unite, motivate and enable citizens to take their political future into their own hands. What impirical evidence exists? The discussion will include presentations by Marshall Ganz, Helen Margetts and Beth Kolko.
  • Democratization and Authoritarian Regimes. Is the information revolution empowering repressive regimes at the expense of social movements? The panel will weigh the arguments presented by cyber-optimists and skeptics. Joshua Kauffman, Gwendolyn Floyd and John Kelly will figure as panelists.

Clearly the panel topics interweave which should make for a rich dialogue over the two-day period. I plan to blog live from each panel (apart perhaps from the one I’m moderating).

Patrick Philippe Meier

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