Enthusiasm for reforming our democracies has been gaining momentum. From the pages of Foreign Policy to the colorfulcriticisms of comedian Russell Brand, it is evident that a long-overdue public conversation on this topic is finally getting started.
There is no lack of proposals. For example, in their recent Foreign Policypiece, John Boik and colleagues focus on decentralized, emergent, tech-driven solutions such as participatory budgeting, local currency systems, and open government. They are confident that such innovations have a good chance of “spreading virally” and bringing about major change. Internet-based solutions, in particular, have captured our collective imagination. From Pia Mancini’s blockbuster TED presentation to New Scientist‘s recent coverage of “digital democracy,” we’re eager to believe that smartphone apps and novel online platforms hold the key to reinventing our way of governance. This seems only natural: after all, the same technologies have already radically reconfigured large swaths of our daily lives.