Can an Open Source Philosophy Save Democracy?

Posted in: Online strategy, Social Politics

On: September 27, 2012

Clay Shirky is one of the more interesting people studying social media and society. As he notes in this illuminating TED talk, “The more ideas there are in circulation, the more ideas there are for any individual to disagree with. More media always means more arguing.”

Yet Shirky also argues that the Open Source ethos that is – slowly perhaps – transforming the way many people and companies work can help make democracy more open and relevant to citizens. Rather than ceding authority to what amounts to little more than an elected oligarchy, which can then govern like a despot between elections, you empower citizens to truly engage.

There is a lot of pollyanna-ish talk about how the Internet and social media can save the world – none of which seems to be working (remember, “more media = more arguing”).

Still, there is little doubt that the Social Age (an era perhaps every bit as important as the Industrial Age) that we have stumbled into offers the potential to truly transform society and how we govern ourselves through engagement and transparency.

Shirky’s talk is worth watching.

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