Open forum personal Invitation

accueil démocratie

3 pages

Michael Macpherson,


Cette invitation, dont je remercie Michaël Macpherson, intéressera tous nos correspondants soucieux de démocratie électronique. Baquiast

Here is an updated initiative which aims to promote fundamental debate, and help to formulate recommendations, about how participation of people in public affairs may be improved, and about the role of electronic communication systems. Electronic voting for elections and referenda is within reach and may allow participation in politics to become easier and more rapid. But hang on, argue the critics, that may lead to hasty and possibly unwise decision-making in the public sphere. What about "deliberation" and careful, informed debate of social and political issues, recommended to occur before any far-reaching decisions are put to the vote? Can ICT help with the latter? (1)

At least in the USA very few forms of political communication, have _not_ been -- to a greater or lesser extent -- modified by applications of information and communication technology (2). In any part of the world, are there good examples of enhanced interaction between citizens and their elected representatives? Has the quality of political communication and action improved? Or does ICT simply help slick politicians to fool more of the people more of the time? What about the much-touted "horizontal" political communication among citizens?

This is the main subject of the Open Forum initiative. You may be familiar with the early Open Forum proposals which recommended for instance that we "... move towards better expression of citizen-will in public decisions (what's to be done, or not done), and in deciding and administering public policy (how to solve problems with available resources; plus getting things done...)" and further "Citizens set up multiple fora which cover the briefs (areas of responsibility) of existing ministries or departments of government and administration but are not limited to those conventional areas and concepts. (Socio-technical suggestions are made ..." (3) The early Open Forum proposals were quite well received and cited in publications on- and offline, for instance in John Gotze's doctoral dissertation (4).

In the meantime, a number of on-line politics fora have been established. Technology has advanced. There are some quite good experiments but generally they address issues in a rather random fashion, there is unsystematic if any back-up information, the geographic focus (the constituency) is unclear, topics are commonly dictated by the "owners" and often these fora are commercial ventures whose impartiality is questionable.

How best do proceed? The current Open Forum proposal is really a group of questions and suggestions about how a number of linked functions to aid and enable political communication among citizens (without denying that politicians and rulers are also citizens ;-)) may be provided or "self-provided". Please take a look at the "prototype" Open Forum, which you can find via , then join the discussion - instructions follow.

Open Forum's general and development space has been set up at eGroups. To subscribe to the discussion, so that you can send and receive messages by e-mail, send a completely empty message to: You will receive instructions from e-groups about how to confirm, how to unsubscribe (it's very easy) and some other things. If you wish to, please post comments about the Open Forum proposal to the "citizen-policy" discussion list, make suggestions or start a debate.

1. "Citizen participation in politics and the new communication media"
2. /../
4. Gotze, John. Participatory Design in an Urban Context. PhD-thesis, Department of Technology and Social Sciences, Technical University of Denmark. Accepted June 1997, published in print by the department, published electronically at by John Gotze

Best wishes, Michael ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dr. Michael Macpherson, PSAMRA/Integral Studies, Berlin FRG tel.: +49 30 262 3768 e-mail: