Tag Archives: world wide web

Do social networking sites support democracy and the Open Society? – revisited

I was reminded of a post that I wrote for Lib Dem Voice 12 years ago entitled “Do social networking sites support democracy and the Open Society?“, and thought it was worth revisiting in the light of current concerns about Facebook and others. I wrote then:

The obvious answer is, yes. But do they?

Let’s track this idea back.

In 1979 Christopher Evans published “The Mighty Micro”. His bold and prophetic book looked at the impact of the microchip on society over the next 10-15 years.

In the same year, 1979, I wrote my first computer program on a teletype terminal and stored it on paper tape. Some desk top computers had been built, but they were very uncommon.

The chapter that really inspired me when I first read it was the one on Political and Social Issues. He predicted that the 1980s and 1990s would be dominated by “virtually infinite data transmission”

This kind of development will encourage lateral communication – the spread of information from human being to human being across the base of the social pyramid. Characteristically this favours the kind of open society … the opposite effect on autocracies who like to make sure that all information is handled very firmly downwards.

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