Berkman's new Internet & Democracy blog

Two weeks ago, I mentioned the official launch of Berkman's Internet & Democracy Project, examining the relationship between the Internet and democratic norms. Today, I'm happy to announce the launch of IDblog, the official blog of the project. The blog will become one engine of building a community of people who are interested in helping to define the direction of this project. Please join us by sharing your thoughts in the IDblog comments section.

Our first post...

Myanmar's 'Dictator's Dilemma'

In 1993, Christopher Kedzie wrote that an increase in the relevance of digital/networked technologies will force repressive regimes to face a ‘Dictator’s Dilemma’, where they will have to choose between open communications (encouraging economic development) and closed communications (controlling ‘dangerous’ ideas). Based on last week’s events in Myanmar, where the Junta simply shut off the Internet in response to the worldwide transmission of words, pictures, and film of their repressive actions, it is easy to say that one of the worlds most repressive regimes has no qualms about shirking economic development in favor of complete control.

However, the events of the past few weeks have shown that a little online openness can go a long way. Activists used mobile phones and proxy servers to ensure that the world continued to get information about the country until the regime shut the entire network down (see Open Net Initiative’s detailed account of the tools used by online citizen journalists)




  • Dictator's dilema?

    Not quite. Dictators like those in Saudi Arabia only censor the Net for porn, not dissident ideas. They are backed by America, so they have nothing to fear, even as they swap hereditary autocracy from Pa to son.

    Or take the autocratic American regime. Nobody wants the Iraq war (save for the oligarchy that's gaining from it. And Democracy - the American kind - says the government is for/by/to the people. So the war shouldn't be happening. But, no, in an autocracy, what the oligarchy wants is what happens.
    Does America even bother what you read on the Net?

    There is no dillema there. The only real dillema is finding that America is no longer to ignore your dictatorship. Saddam didn't have a dillema when he was America's crony. The Saudis don't. Chiang Kai-shek. Caecescu. The South American dictators. Whoever is US' friend has no dillema.

    (PS: I don't know how to spell dilemma, and I am too lazy to check. I'm wet from the rain. Horrible mood.)

    By Blogger The 27th Comrade, at 12:23 AM  

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