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Three abstracts of interest with links to the full papers are listed
below.  I generally concur with Agre's "amplification analysis."  It
is important for the academic community to ask the right research
questions.  Early on it seemed that the formula being tested was:

     (Internet + Politics)M = E-Democracy Utopia

To the M power that is. M as far as I can tell was an expectation for
democratic "magic" that would occur when "as is" politics and
citizens got online.  Of course, that overly optimistic strawman path
can be pointed out as a failure.

I'd like to suggest a better, more challenging formula for
researchers to test:

     Political Goal 1 * Online Strategy/Tech A = Outcome X
     Political Goal 1 * Online Strategy/Tech B = Outcome Y
     Political Goal 1 * Online Strategy/Tech C = Outcome Z

     Political Goal 2 * Online Strategy/Tech A = Outcome W
     and so on ...

So the challenge is to test which online strategies or technologies
when applied to different political goals lead to the best outcome.

In the end the value of e-democracy will look something like this:

     (Outcome X + Y + Z)D (Power) = E-democracy potential

D = Democratic intent.  As far as I can tell the positive impact of
the online world on democracy will be very minimal, perhaps actually
negative, without real doses of _democratic intent_.  Whether this
intent comes from existing democratic actors from "as is" politics or
from new civil society initiatives "of" the Internet, the only way to
spread the positive potential (that many of us have experienced first
hand!) of this medium is to demonstrate and measure beneficial (and
negative) outcomes.  Most people in politics don't take unnecessary
risks, it is not in their nature.  So every e-democracy lesson or
experience must be documented and shared widely or the skeptics will
win and the Net will be listed with television as contributing to not
just contributing to the abstract decline in democracy, but to a real
breakdown in the ability of societies to govern themselves and work
together to meet public challenges.

On that note, keep that research coming. It is vitally important to
future of democracy in the information age.

Steven Clift
Democracies Online
P.S. The formula stuff comes from the beginning of my Global E-
Democracy Trends speech: http://www.publicus.net/speaker.html


Real-Time Politics: The Internet and the Political Process
Philip E. Agre, Department of Information Studies, UCLA

Research on the Internet's role in politics has struggled to
transcend technological determinism -- the assumption, often
inadvertent, that the technology simply imprints its own logic on
social relationships. An alternative approach traces the ways, often
numerous, in which an institution's participants appropriate the
technology in the service of goals, strategies, and relationships
that the institution has already organized. This amplification model
can be applied in analyzing the Internet's role in politics. After
critically surveying a list of widely held views on the matter, this
paper illustrates how the amplification model might be applied to
concrete problems. These include the development of social networks
and ways that technology is used to bind people together into a

Available from:

Political Organisations And Online Mobilisation: Different Media -
Same Outcomes? Wainer Lusoli, Stephen J. Ward and Rachel K. Gibson

The low turnout at the 2001 general election heightened concerns
about the state of representative democracy and political
participation in the UK. Increasingly, the Internet and other
Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been seen as
offering a possible means of reinvigorating political organisations
and institutions in the UK. Enthusiasts have suggested that such
technologies can help re-engaging citizens into the political process
and allow organisations, such as parties, to mobilise the public more
easily. Using website content analysis and interviews, this paper
investigates some these claims by examining the online participatory
activities of a range of political organisations including: parties,
trade unions, pressure groups and protest networks. On the basis of
our evidence, we argue that the web is more an informational than
participatory tool and that so far many political organisations have
been slow to exploit its interactive possibilities. However, w! hilst
it easy to be critical of their activities, there remains significant
technological and political barriers which hinder the use of ICTs for
political mobilisation.

Available from:

The Internet and Political Campaigning: the new medium comes of age?
Rachel K. Gibson, Stephen J. Ward and Wainer Lusoli

Parties around the world have been moving into cyberspace since the
mid-1990s, however, for much of the early years it was not evident
that many of them had any clearly defined ideas about what the
Internet would prove useful for, and how they should present
themselves on it. As time has passed, however, a number of common
trends have clearly emerged in party's 'thinking' about the new
medium and also in their stylistic and content considerations on the
web. This research reviews the development of parties' use of the
internet, specifically the World Wide Web (WWW) and
e-mail from a comparative perspective (with an emphasis on four
countries - the UK, the US,
Australia and Germany). The questions asked focus on when parties set
up their sites, what reasons
can be identified behind their having done so, and whether certain
types parties have proved more
adept in using the internet than others. After profiling the 'supply'
side of the equation, we
then turn to look at the 'deman! d' for party websites and discuss
the crucial issue of how far
having a website actually matters for parties. Does campaigning
online really make a difference to
voters and if so, in what way? While an obvious measure of success
may be whether the site actually produces an increase in the
electoral support for the party. It may be that its advantages are
more subtle and diffuse in that it creates a positive image of
organisational competence and more importantly contemporary

^               ^               ^                ^
Steven L. Clift    -    W: http://www.publicus.net
Minneapolis    -   -   -     E: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Minnesota  -   -   -   -   -    T: +1.612.822.8667
USA    -   -   -   -   -   -   -     ICQ: 13789183

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