hi all. as some may have noticed Ive collected links under the heading "electronic democracy" almost since this blog started.
its an old idea Ive had ever since the late 80s or early 90s as computers were starting to gain traction in everyday life. what if our government & other bureacracies (eg corporate) were altered to become more efficient by [what is now called] information technology?
in particular, why is voting so convoluted? some govts in the world are indeed experimenting with electronic voting at least [which in my mind is a big part of electronic democracy].
its a very slow process. its a tough road. Ive started to realize Id be lucky to see a significant part of this happen in my lifetime. here we are in 2012. obama announced some initiatives for transparency and improving IT in govt such as a new CIO-like position [chief information officer]. obama has done a lot but bureacracy is always an inherently intransigent, sclerotic beast. it seems that there are only 3 definite things in life... death, taxes, and bureacracy [with the latter handling the paperwork associated with the former].
there was a lot of controversy in 2008 over the electronic voting machines. youd think that voting machines are kind of simple systems, but they are fiendishly complex. prone to lots of glitches and failures.
if ever we needed a more responsive democracy it is now.
I am heartened recently by some other directions that can be pursued. in particular, the emerging "electronic boycott". this seems to be a very new phenomenon. the corporatocratic MSM is not talking about it of course. surprise! but this feels like a bit of a gamechanger to me. it reminds me of what were called "wildcat strikes" that arose early last century.
here are some recent remarkable cases of an electronic corporatocratic backlash having swift, intense effects.
- a few months ago Bank of America, highly reviled because of its prominent place in bank bailouts and raised fees, announced it would institute a new debit card fee. the fee was not large, I think it was something like $5/mo, but the public backlash was swift, loud, and decisive, and they backed off quickly even after it was made to seem like a "done deal".
- mcdonalds announced a twitter ad campaign which massively backfired. the public hijacked their twitter tag to put up negative stories of their food.
- netflix announced price hikes and an idea that they would split the company in two, with one called "quickster" that would handle the physical DVDs. the public smelled "ghetto" and pushed back HARD against this. this is not the 1st time this has happened to netflix. this sounded similar to the case where they announced they would yank support for multiple accounts, but the public backlash was swift there too and they backed off.
- SOPA-- we have Google and Wikipedia doing online protests against this and the public boycott of GoDaddy who initially supported SOPA was incredibly stinging. Ive heard they lost close to 70K accounts in maybe two weeks or so. stunning! congress backed off on this. from long experience I know these bills are quite zombie-like in their periodic uprisings [read cory doctorow for more perspective on this], but it was a clearcut, resounding tactical victory.
- then theres the latest case of the social media uprising against the Komen foundation over the issue of planned parenthood funding. theres been at least one highranking resignation in Komen over this. startling! Ive never really seen anything like this. it does remind me of online protests against eg Facebook but this one had massive real-world consequences.
the moral of all this story is that Corporations still have massive power, but lately, they might pause a millisecond or two before continuing their marching onslaught. these recent case studies seem to be genuine gamechangers to me and embodiments of Electronic Democracy. not the warm and cuddly side of it, but sometimes to make an omelette you've got to break some eggs.
hope you enjoyed this public service announcement; stay tuned, Im planning to write some more about electronic democracy in the near future wrt Assange.
ps I think there are some other excellent examples of public backlash causing a swift corporatocratic turnabout. if you can think of othes plz let me know in the comments!
- Bank of America backs off debit card fee after consumer backlash - The Washington Post
- How McDonald's Twitter campaign fell into the fire - CBS News
- Netflix continues downward spiral amid backlash - BusinessWeek
- GoDaddy lost 72,354 domains this week. It’s not enough. | Techi.com
- GoDaddy Withdraws SOPA Support After Backlash | News & Opinion | PCMag.com
- SOPA Blackout: Wikipedia, Google, Wired Protest ‘Internet Censorship’ - ABC News
- Go Daddy CEO Under Fire for Elephant Shooting Video in Africa - ABC News
- Did Facebook Bring Down Susan G. Komen? - Shannon Kelley - Open Salon
- Komen drops plan to cut Planned Parenthood grants - Yahoo! News
- How the Internet changed Komen's mind - Breast cancer - Salon.com