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On March 21, at 6:30, I’m holding a Berkman “Web of Ideas” discussion of whether and how participatory culture encourages participatory democracy. The discussion is open to all. (The Berkman Center is at 23 Everett in Cambridge: Map.)

It’s not obvious that just because we’re participating in our culture more, our democracy will also change. Certainly, politics and culture are not distinct realms, so our expectations in one should affect the other. But not necessarily. Take some prototypical objects of cultural participation. What would you choose? Wikipedia? Blogosphere? File sharing? Second Life? AssignmentZero ? What is our participation in those and what does that participation teach us? How much of that is political? And do the lessons transfer? For example, Wikipedia teaches us — well, those of us who think Wikipedia is awesome — that credentialed authorities are not the only ones who can be trusted. But does that apply beyond building encyclopedias? Does it affect our view of, say, policy experts in the government? What are we learning and does it apply?

I don’t have answers to these questions. I’m not coming in with an hypothesis. I’m hoping you’ll come and remind us of what Henry Jenkins, Lawrence Lessig, and Yochai Benkler have to say on the topic. And who else?

So, let’s talk. [Tags: ]

One Response to “Web of Ideas: Does participatory culture lead to participatory democracy?”

  1. on 06 Apr 2007 at 12:02 amBernard D. Tremblay (ben)

    Let’s talk.

    Longish story short, one evening in the Killam Library at Dalhousie U I had been rereading Habermas’ discouse ethics and flipping through a book I’d picked up almost at random. I’m sure you know how stacks lead to serendipity. John Willinsky … increasing access to publically funded research … somehow (a “benzene ring” moment) the penny dropped.

    Since ’75 I’ve been trying to change the world with discourse of one form or another. Slide-tape shows, back then. What became e-democracy in the late 70s. 15 minutes of fame in the mid-80s. BBSs that whole decade, ham radio since ’68, a stint with CBC Radio, likewise with Hansard. “Data, data everywhere, and not a thought to think!” That evening the penny dropped. Not because of my work with VRML and taxonomy, no … because of a “dharmic” appreciation of *pause* the dialectic. As appreciated by Marx (and Hegel!), and as practiced by Socrates. Habermas and Willinsky; “humane governance” and “Public Knowledge / OpenAccess”.

    I’ve adjusted my URL so it points to a new paper on the site I created at that time.

    ReadableLaws, Innocence Project, W3C HTMLWG … the need is ubiquitous. As a Senator in our National Security hearings put it, “With so very many new sources of information … how to we tranform that information into intelligence?”

    What connects whatever it is that validates voc populi and the foundation of both spirituality and humanism … isn’t the source of our dignity the fact of our sentience? “Primordial wisdom” very nearly captures it.

    Hasta luego!