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Ranch State and CitizenSpace: Digital Democracy and Web Strategies for the United States and the United Kingdom
Unformatted Document Text:  20 also being re-tooled to allow for a larger overseas audience. (FCO Press Release, March 21, 2001). The United States website, while clearly lacking in functionality that would contribute to digital democracy in foreign affairs – may represent more of an organizational struggle for mission goals and scope. The rather lackluster State Department website may be indicative of stop-gap fixes as the organization finishes its assimilation of the USIA and its mission philosophies. As the organization “finds its bearings” – this may be reflected in the organization, content, and functionality of the website in the near future. Much like Lemke suggests – the website is a microcosm of organizational ideas and structure (Lemke, 1999). One of the prevailing themes of academic literature on the subject of digital democracy has been its limited, and often reifying effects on existing political structures and systems. Rather than offering a new paradigm, ICTs have “shown little evidence that electronically mediated democratic relationships are fundamentally challenged by the settled ordering of democratic process” (Taylor, in Dutton, 1999). While some have claimed otherwise, such as Segell’s claim that ICTs were significant in breaking down cultural differences in UK elections in 1998 (Segel, in Ebo, 2001), many theoretical assessments have countered that the effects of ICTs on democratic practices are more of a “trend amplifier” (Hagen, 2000). The lack of participatory functionality on the State Department website may be such a case. Bellamy and Taylor suggest that “technologies shore up old practices”. Elberse, Hale, and Dutton offer that ICTs “reinforce existing patterns of control”(2000). Castells, citing a study of the use of the Internet in OECD countries, writes that there was indeed a rapid increase in the use of the Internet, but “also a great deal of continuity with traditional political practices” (Castells, 2001, p. 156.) This is not to say that ICTs at the level of national web presence have not made a difference at all in terms of foreign policy. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Marc Grossman stated at the NetDiplomacy2001 conference that the wider range of issues necessitated

Authors: Hayden, Craig.
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also being re-tooled to allow for a larger overseas audience. (FCO Press Release, March 21,
2001).
The United States website, while clearly lacking in functionality that would contribute to
digital democracy in foreign affairs – may represent more of an organizational struggle for
mission goals and scope. The rather lackluster State Department website may be indicative of
stop-gap fixes as the organization finishes its assimilation of the USIA and its mission
philosophies. As the organization “finds its bearings” – this may be reflected in the organization,
content, and functionality of the website in the near future. Much like Lemke suggests – the
website is a microcosm of organizational ideas and structure (Lemke, 1999).
One of the prevailing themes of academic literature on the subject of digital democracy
has been its limited, and often reifying effects on existing political structures and systems. Rather
than offering a new paradigm, ICTs have “shown little evidence that electronically mediated
democratic relationships are fundamentally challenged by the settled ordering of democratic
process” (Taylor, in Dutton, 1999). While some have claimed otherwise, such as Segell’s claim
that ICTs were significant in breaking down cultural differences in UK elections in 1998 (Segel,
in Ebo, 2001), many theoretical assessments have countered that the effects of ICTs on
democratic practices are more of a “trend amplifier” (Hagen, 2000). The lack of participatory
functionality on the State Department website may be such a case.
Bellamy and Taylor suggest that “technologies shore up old practices”. Elberse, Hale,
and Dutton offer that ICTs “reinforce existing patterns of control”(2000). Castells, citing a study
of the use of the Internet in OECD countries, writes that there was indeed a rapid increase in the
use of the Internet, but “also a great deal of continuity with traditional political practices”
(Castells, 2001, p. 156.)
This is not to say that ICTs at the level of national web presence have not made a
difference at all in terms of foreign policy. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Marc
Grossman stated at the NetDiplomacy2001 conference that the wider range of issues necessitated


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