Summary of Emergent Democracy

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Joi Ito,

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Emergent Democracy summary
Can weblogs and other social software tools help bring about a stronger, more direct democracy?


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In this succinct and thoughtful essay, MIT Media Lab director Joichi Ito considers the state of the Internet as an inclusive, open communications space and examines its relation to more traditional “top down” networks – like mass media – which often stifle the critical debate of ideas. Ito also discusses the potential of social technologies like weblogs to help bring about a more engaged and direct democracy. getAbstract recommends this essay to everyone interested in the subject of Internet freedom and in the relation between politics and technological innovations.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How modern communication tools and technology simultaneously strengthen and threaten democracy,
  • What “emergence” entails and its relation to digital communities, and
  • How “social technologies” might help bring about an “emergent democracy.”


The relevance of social software to political life is only increasing with every passing year. What should be a free, inclusive platform that engenders a democratic society is at risk of becoming a digital prison in which corporate interests and extremists monitor and control people.

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About the Author

Joichi Ito is a social software entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and advocate of emergent democracy and Internet freedom. He is the current director of the MIT Media Lab.

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