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Ranch State and CitizenSpace: Digital Democracy and Web Strategies for the United States and the United Kingdom
Unformatted Document Text:  23 Many social advocacy groups and networks in fact rely almost exclusively on ICTs in order for them to coordinate and execute social action. Websites for large NGOs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace serve as clearinghouses of information for advocacy groups and networks around the world. (Deibert, 1997, 1998. Castells, 1999). Electronic bulletin boards and e-mail listservs maintain communication links between advocacy networks, so that these actors can pressure national governments on the international stage (Sikkink & Keck, 1998) in a process of international public opinion manipulation known as the “boomerang affect”. Advocates of the notion of a global civil society, a developing set of cosmopolitan actors and norms based on predominately western principles, of liberty, equality, transparency of governance, and the rule of legal institutions (Lipschitz, 1994, Comor, 2001, Anheir, 2000) claim that the ICTs are a fundamental part of this supposedly growing trans- national normative consensus. Yet it would appear that the use of ICTs at the nationally- sponsored level in foreign affairs for citizen participation has yet to take hold in the United States, and only beginning to develop in the United Kingdom. The development of the Information Polity (as described by John Taylor) may not be an even progression towards a more communitarian vision of digital democracy. Participatory visions of the utilization of ICTs have to compete with other frameworks – such as a market- centric mentality that evidently has permeated government organizations’ vision of ICTs and specifically, web presence. Taylor’s “Polity” paints a picture of a complex web of interactions between the producers of ICTs, the consumers of services, governments, and more importantly the “values” attached to the “communication and technical infrastructures” (Taylor, in Dutton, 1999, p. 197). It is clear that a focus on outputs is closely associated with the market-oriented valuation of web presence. While information technologies and the proliferation of global media (arguable enabled by ICTs) has made the role of the public and public opinion more salient to national governments in foreign affairs – evidence of new strategies for the use of Web technology reflect a more time-honored tradition of the foreign policy establishment in the US to

Authors: Hayden, Craig.
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Many social advocacy groups and networks in fact rely almost exclusively on ICTs in
order for them to coordinate and execute social action. Websites for large NGOs like Amnesty
International, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace serve as clearinghouses of information for
advocacy groups and networks around the world. (Deibert, 1997, 1998. Castells, 1999).
Electronic bulletin boards and e-mail listservs maintain communication links between advocacy
networks, so that these actors can pressure national governments on the international stage
(Sikkink & Keck, 1998) in a process of international public opinion manipulation known as the
“boomerang affect”. Advocates of the notion of a global civil society, a developing set of
cosmopolitan actors and norms based on predominately western principles, of liberty, equality,
transparency of governance, and the rule of legal institutions (Lipschitz, 1994, Comor, 2001,
Anheir, 2000) claim that the ICTs are a fundamental part of this supposedly growing trans-
national normative consensus. Yet it would appear that the use of ICTs at the nationally-
sponsored level in foreign affairs for citizen participation has yet to take hold in the United States,
and only beginning to develop in the United Kingdom.
The development of the Information Polity (as described by John Taylor) may not be an
even progression towards a more communitarian vision of digital democracy. Participatory
visions of the utilization of ICTs have to compete with other frameworks – such as a market-
centric mentality that evidently has permeated government organizations’ vision of ICTs and
specifically, web presence. Taylor’s “Polity” paints a picture of a complex web of interactions
between the producers of ICTs, the consumers of services, governments, and more importantly
the “values” attached to the “communication and technical infrastructures” (Taylor, in Dutton,
1999, p. 197). It is clear that a focus on outputs is closely associated with the market-oriented
valuation of web presence. While information technologies and the proliferation of global media
(arguable enabled by ICTs) has made the role of the public and public opinion more salient to
national governments in foreign affairs – evidence of new strategies for the use of Web
technology reflect a more time-honored tradition of the foreign policy establishment in the US to


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