Monday, July 27, 2009

Democracy and Internet

Recently, talking with Gabriel Adame (@Gabo_Adame on Twitter, who invited me to his last radio program in Plaza Network -@plazanetwork-) we were discussing how Internet could help democracy in various countries, including Mexico.

One of the tools that have helped people looking to improve democracy in their countries is Twitter. This social network has helped people to know what is happening in the world before the mainstream media even reports it and it has been used to events that traditional media considers unimportant or because there are controlled by the government and dissidence is punished with jail or even death.

Recently this happened in Iran and its election, called fraudulent by opponents to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and in China, where a conflict with Uighur, an ethnic group that was violently repressed. Both events were known in the world thanks to dissidents who managed tospread images and videos about what happened in both countries on Twitter.

What @Gabo_Adame said was that he considered possible that Internet improves democracy in our country in the same way other countries has done this: improving the information about government's abuses.

My question is how long is possible to do this? How can you influence through Internet so people reacts and starts to defend their rights?

To begin with, I think more access to the technology of Internet is necessary, so people can learn to use this tool and all his possibilities. This would be possible in Mexico when almost all schools, public or private, teach to use and give access to Internet.

Besides, people has to be able to use it easily outside schools and universities, in places like libraries, public square and places where people spends time with others.

In Mexico nearly 27 persons have access to Internet and it isn't clear if they use it in all its potential (for example, they use it mostly to check their e-mail and chat on instant messengers) and there are a lot of ways to get benefits from them if they know how to use it and spend some time understanding the Web.

But there are obstacles too: people who want to improve our democracy, if they don't know the internal operation of government and bureaucracy, at least as I see it, have a difficult task: make people participate and move so they can find a legal way to improve things. This is a difficult task not everyone would try.

It's a difficult matter and, nevertheless, I can help but feel that there's a little hope that, as soon Internet is widely used in our country and people begins to use it more for other things than studies, work or entertainment, all will begin to move.

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