In This Review

Democracy.com: Governance in a Networked World
Democracy.com: Governance in a Networked World
Edited by Elaine Ciulla Kamarck and Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
Hollis Publishing, 1999, 224 pp

This lively collection of essays explores the impact of the information revolution on government. Even though the authors believe it is still too early to draw conclusions, they do offer hypotheses that can help guide the coming debate. In a lucid introduction, Nye forecasts a diffusion of authority away from central governments to international and local authorities, corporations, and civil society. The authors then discuss how democratic government will change across various dimensions of political life -- the community, political representation, voting, and bureaucracy. The resulting picture is surprisingly mixed. Opportunities for direct citizen participation may increase, but the result could be a "thin" democracy that loses its capacity for deliberation. And although the Internet revolution makes new types of on-line community possible, it may erode older, off-line communities. One author argues the Internet might even reinforce existing biases in political participation rather than mobilize new groups. In sum, a useful introduction to the increasingly heated debate over the information age's political impact.