Some e-participation projects have been funded and promoted by governments; others have been initiated by grass-roots activitists and communities. What is the relationship between such projects and the distribution of political power?

Top-down / governmental e-participation can be accused of allowing the public to have their say in ways that are subsequently ignored, about issues that have already been decided upon. Bottom-up / grass roots initiatives can be criticised as virtual talking shops which are isolated from the structures of decision-making. What scope is there for e-enabled co-governance?

About the speakers

  • Professor Stephen Coleman

    Cisco Visiting Professor in e-Democracy, Oxford Internet Institute

    BA hons and PhD from London University. Formerly Director of the Hansard e-democracy programme, which pioneered online consultations for the UK Parliament, and lecturer in Media & Communication at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chaired the Independent Commission on Alternative Voting Methods. Recent publications include Bowling Together (with John Gotze), Hansard Society, 2001; Realising Democracy Online: A Civic Commons in Cyberspace(with Jay G. Blumler), IPPR, 2001; 2001: A Cyber Space Oddysey: the Internet in the UK Election, Hansard Society, 2001; Televised Election Debates: International Perspectives, Macmillan 2000; Parliament in the Age of the Internet (edited with J. Taylor and W. van de Donk) OUP, 1999. At the OII, Professor Coleman will be working on the adaptation of representative institutions in the digital age; the development of spaces for public democratic deliberation; and a global evaluation of a range of e-democracy exercises.

  • Zephyr Teachout

    Adjunct Professor, Master of Public Administration, The University of Vermont

    Zephyr Teachout, JD, MA (Political Science) was the Director of Online Organizing for Howard Dean’s campaign, where she managed the collaborative development of social software by and with the Dean grassroots. She has written about the organizing role of the Internet, and is currently working on an article for the Duke Law Journal on how the FEC might restructure itself to enable more political action. She currently teaches Internet and Politics at the University of Vermont and is a non-resident fellow at the Berkman Center. She has founded and been the Executive Director of two nonprofits dedicated to training young people: The Fair Trial Initiative (training young lawyers for Death Penalty trial work) and Baobabs College Labs (connecting young political activists with open source software now part of Music for America). She is a board member of the Fair Trial Initiative and the Participatory Culture Foundation. She holds an MA in Political Science and a JD from Duke, where she graduated summa cum laude and was the Editor in Chief of the Duke Law Journal.