Democracy on the Web

It's been said many times that the Internet is the great equalizer, but before the social web, I'm not sure how much of that statement is true. With July 4th approaching, I thought it would be fitting to highlight some of the many ways the Internet is a celebration of democracy. Freedom of Speech Now, more than any other time in our country's history, "we the people" have a voice. Whether it be blogs, YouTube videos, or Twitter, not only do we have the Constitutional right to say what we think and feel, but we have an entire tool set at our disposal to amplify our messages.

We recently saw how important these tools are during the elections in Iraq. Iranians on Twitter were able to share their messages to the outside world, which served as a complementary source of news to traditional media outlets. The impact of this was so significant that Twitter's scheduled maintenance was postponed in order to let Iranians speak freely about what was taking place.

"WE the People" I can't think of another forum besides the web that is truly as representative of "we the people." Thomas Jefferson first wrote those words in the Declaration of Independence over 200 years ago. 200 years later, we can look at the landscape of individuals represented online and see a "we" that consists of almost every type of public constituent.

Regardless of gender, age, rage, religion, culture, wealth – the Internet embraces an "open democracy."

Government by the People, For the People In a consumer world where online outlets are outperforming offline retailers, the impact of user behavior has real word implications. Almost everything on the web is participatory, whether it be ratings and reviews on Amazon.com and eBay to article favorites posted on Digg.

Naturally, it only makes sense that this engaged model of user feedback is spilling over into government. Last fall we saw Obama take the Internet by storm, and during his tenure as President, the trend has continues.

Most recently, we've seen USAspending.gov, which brings greater transparency government spending. It's the perfect complement to data.gov, which is an attempt to digitize all government records.

Based on these efforts to bring greater transparency and accountability to the government, we're slowly working towards a truly ideal "government by the people, for the people."

In addition to celebrating our country's history this weekend, let's also take the time out to celebrate the social web and what it means to our democracy today. Have a fun, safe and social 4th of July!

Cailin Darcy