Does e-participation lead to e-democracy or e-dictatorship?

We are barely a fortnight away from e-Democracy 08 : the best annual opportunity this side of the Atlantic for catching up on the state of e-debate, including how the use of the Internet has transformed political funding in the United States. But can electronic voting be any more  secure or secret than postal voting? And how can we ensure that e-consultations reflect the views of the communities to be consulted rather than the prejudices of those running the consultation or rigging the ballot?   

I do suggest you book in and spend a day getting up to speed because, whether we like or not, the spin docters have discovered the on-line world and are seeking to use it to get us to tell their political masters what they want to hear.

Meanwhile Google, Garlik, Phorm, YouGov and others supposedly make voting unnecessary, because their analyses of our traffic can tell anyone who will pay what they want to know about us – including how we will vote on what?    

Or has the fear of surveillance taught us what Chinese and Russian peasants have known for millenia?

Keep your subversive thoughts to yourself. Tell them only what they want to hear, including over the ‘net – because everything you do is being recorded for posterity?

But that would be sad – given the hopes of twenty years ago that the Internet would usher in an age of creativity based on freedom of thought and expression.

I much prefer to look forward to the age of sousveillance when we use the technology to hold our lords and masters (commercial as well as political) to account rather than of surveillance when they use it to keep us under control.

And given recent allegations regarding the editing of postings to its blogs – is the BBC, last survivor of national broadcasting operations of the 1920s and 30s, part of a devolved and democratic future or a centralised and censored past?

Mark Byford, Deputy Director General of the BBC is one of the speakers on the 11th November.  

Either way, the physical debate on the 11th November is likely to be a great one-stop catch up opportunity..