Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Please help Ethan and I find some projects that might be examples we could use when talking about Emergent Democracy. Ethan describes more clearly what we are looking for.


Have you talked to Steve Cisler about this? He is currently unconnected (a fascinating experiment in its own right) ... I can give his cell to you

hey, this is Craig from craigslist...

I'm involved with the San Francisco 311 program, which I'm treating as a genuine opportunity to reinvent government.

Looks like someone has something going literally in my own neighborhood.

I've already chatted with them, and they sound real:

I'm indulging in a serious effort to improve a big aspect of our own site by engaging with people...

Joi: I posted this in Ethan's comments as well...

I'm a bit of a broken record on this but I think the most exciting uses of this medium in emergent democracies have been in Iran and Iraq:
- Hossein Derakhshan, aka Hoder at, explained two years ago how to blog in Persian and today there are an estimated 100,000 blogs in and about Iran talking about subjects that have no outlet -- politics, sex, music, women's rights -- and also speaking in English to the rest of the world. Pedram Moallemian of will be at the conference and can speak more eloquently and knowledgably about this than I can. But note that the president of Iran even bragged about weblogs at the recent UN Internet conference; the reformers performing a sit-in at the Iranian parliament started a blog (at Hoder's urging) to tell their story to the nation and the world. There is no stopping the free expression of Iranian bloggers. And those bloggers have built new bridges to the rest of the world. We talk about the impact blogs may have on our election. I beleive that blogs will end up having a huge impact on the democratization of Iran.
- Also consider the blossoming of new voices and viewpoints from Iraq. After Salam Pax came Zeyad at, whose reporting on the December anti-terrorism demonstrations made it into Western media that is read in the White House. The Iraqi bloggers -- most listed on Zeyad's blogroll -- disagree about much but they are able to do it and in public. And, again, they are sharing their perspectives with the rest of the world. This, too, will help build democracy in Iraq.
In both cases, what's better than some external project is an internal movement.
But also important are weblog efforts to shine attention and understanding on the situations in emergent democracies or repressed nations (see Rebecca McKinnon's new weblog on North Korea at; see various blogs bringing together blogs on Africa and China; and so on).

Posted also at Ethan's site - Voices Without Votes 2004, a project of the McLuhan Program, initiated by McLuhan Fellow Peter Deitz. The site - - invites the world to "write a letter to America" concerning the upcoming Presidential election. It features a blog, interviews and articles as well.

Today I Decide

Where Estonian citizens can comment upon and propose laws to the parliment, some have even been passed

I might have some leads to a nice report that was produced last year on the internet in China. I wrote about it on one of my websites at (and included links there too). The report rightly avoids to connect the development of the internet in China with democracy: that link is very much connected with American ideology and would not have a large following in China, not among the government but also not among most internet users: the word does not mean that much in China. (As I also make that point here: When you use other terms, like "a better participation of the citizens in the government" and avoid the overly US jargon, it would work out much better in a Chinese context. I did not follow much of the preparation for this part of the conference, but will try to catch up.

I read these comments and realized that "emergent" is referring to the emergence of democracy in a nation without democracy.

I think it'd be a mistake to rule out the practices of emergent democracy as a way of innovating our own democratic processes.

The democratic methods of western democracy are far from perfect and experimentation with the way democracy is practiced should be driven by the people.

The US prides itself on continuous innovation, yet our democratic methods have been virtually unchanged since the Constitution was written.

Ideally, democracy should enable anyone to raise problems, suggest possible solutions and vote on preferred actions/solutions. And then the process should start all over again once solutions have been implemented.

Other than the implementation of solutions, democracy should not be controlled by a central authority or housed by a central system.

It should be simple to use.

Using these principles, I've drafted a quick method for practicing democracy.

I have more thoughts on how to take the majority's wishes and make them reality; implementation. It should be similar to the way Dean's campaign was managed, except around problems and solutions, instead of a candidate.

And also, research, authoritative ubiased publishing and education must be incorporated into the system.