Douglas Rushkoff – “Open Source Democracy” @ NYU Wednesday

ISOC-NY is a co-sponsor of Evan Korth’s Computers & Society speaker series at NYU this fall. The next talk will feature author, thinker and professor Douglas Rushkoff. His talk is entitled, “Open Source Democracy.”

Date: Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Warren Weaver Hall — Room 109
251 Mercer Street
New York, NY
(enter via W. 4th ST)

The public is welcome to attend. Photo id required.

Following is the foreword, by Douglas Alexander, to his paper on
the same topic:

The internet has become an integral part of our lives because it
is interactive. That means people are senders of information,
rather than simply passive receivers of ‘old’ media. Most
importantly of all, we can talk to each other without gatekeepers
or editors. This offers exciting possibilities for new social
networks, which are enabled – but not determined – by digital

In the software industry, the open source movement emphasises
collective cooperation over private ownership. This radical idea
may provide the biggest challenge to the dominance of Microsoft.
Open source enthusiasts have found a more efficient way of
working by pooling their knowledge to encourage innovation.

All this is happening at a time when participation in mainstream
electoral politics is declining in many Western countries,
including the US and Britain. Our democracies are increasingly
resembling old media, with fewer real opportunities for

What, asks Douglas Rushkoff in this original essay for Demos,
would happen if the ‘source code’ of our democratic systems was
opened up to the people they are meant to serve? ‘An open source
model for participatory, bottom-up and emergent policy will force
us to confront the issues of our time,’ he answers.

That’s a profound thought at a time when governments are
recognising the limits of centralised political institutions. The
open source community recognises that solutions to problems
emerge from the interaction and participation of lots of people,
not by central planning.

Rushkoff challenges us all to participate in the redesign of
political institutions in a way which enables new solutions to
social problems to emerge as the result of millions interactions.
In this way, online communication may indeed be able to change
offline politics.

About joly

isoc member since 1995

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