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Weblog Democracy, World Discussion
Taran Rampersad, 16 Jun 04

DeTocque.jpgDemocracy is an issue which is constantly spoken of - from the 2004 United States Presidential Elections to Tiananmen Square to the present issues of Iraq. It's no mistake. Democracy is supposed to be discussed.

Alexis de Tocqueville, a 19th century French Lawyer who wrote "Democracy in America", mentioned something other than voting in the 19th century. He found the most interesting part of the democracy of the United States - then - to be discussion. Lawrence Lessig mentions it in his book Free Culture, within Chapter 2:

...But democracy has never just been about elections. Democracy means rule by the people, but rule means something more than mere elections. In our tradition, it also means control through reasoned discourse. This was the idea that captured the imagination of Alexis de Tocqueville, the nineteenth-century French lawyer who wrote the most important account of early “Democracy in America.” It wasn't popular elections that fascinated him—it was the jury, an institution that gave ordinary people the right to choose life or death for other citizens. And most fascinating for him was that the jury didn't just vote about the outcome they would impose. They deliberated. Members argued about the “right” result; they tried to persuade each other of the “right” result, and in criminal cases at least, they had to agree upon a unanimous result for the process to come to an end15...

Because of this, it's no small wonder that Time Magazine has an article online: Meet Joe Blog. In fact, the article seems to be an expansion of Lessig's referenced chapter of Free Culture, with the focus on weblogs. Still, this is nothing new as far as information - it's old hat for a lot of people within the blogosphere. It's what the Cluetrain Manifesto discusses to some degree - and it's older than even that. Discussion is probably more deeply rooted in human society than clothing. In fact, it's probably discussion that provoked clothing.

When you see an article on weblogs within the pages of Time Magazine, you see acceptance of the more centralized media. The New York Times has mentioned it repeatedly, and the BBC even has 'weblogs' for some of its correspondents. You're reading a weblog right now, and one I have the insane pleasure of assisting some great people with.

The major media's acceptance of weblogs has been crowned with this article in Time Magazine. Discussion is powerful, and the software that permits it has become so ubiquitous that if a person wants to start a weblog, there is comparatively little to do and no need to spend a lot of money. The focus is the content, the context, and the nuances in between. As A.J. Liebling wrote, "Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one."

Everyone can have a weblog. Everone can discuss what is on their mind, and if it attracts enough attention and becomes an issue of further discussion, then you have democracy as a process instead of the voting snapshot. With these latest articles in the traditional media, one has to wonder what we'll be discussing next within this abstract space we have created. The important issues will inadvertently rise based on the interest of the global community.

Since we celebrate change for the better, we have to celebrate more discussion. The more thoughts floating throughout the world, the more useful ideas we may come up with. Let's hope more people around the world get involved.

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