AN excellent article from the Boston Review - flagged up by GM's New Media and Democracy editor, Clive McGoun of Manchester Metropolitan University. It is authored by Evgeny Morozov, an acacdemic and blogger who is thus far skeptical about the ability of the net to facilitate regime change in authoritarian states.
Much of his writing is brilliant and he is certainly emerging as one of the key voices in the debates over the internet and demoracy.
It is a brilliant analysis of some of the more determinist and optimisitic assertions for the power of the internet, blogging and mobile technology in political protest.
His conclusion is perhaps a worthy starting point - it's up to you to work back.
"The problem with building public spheres from above, online or offline, is much like that of building Frankenstein’s monsters: we may not like the end product. This does not mean we should give up on the Internet as a force for democratization, only that we should ditch the blinding ideology of technological determinism and focus on practical tasks. Figuring out how the Internet could benefit existing democratic forces and organizations—very few of which have exhibited much creativity on the Web—would not be a bad place to start."
Read the full article here