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Testing the Boundaries of Singaporean Governance through Civil Disobedience

Hong Kong.
The first speaker in the post-lunch session this second day of The Internet Turning 40 is Cherian George, who begins with the story of a Singaporean dissident, the former lawyer Gopalan Nair, who has been a staunch (even rabid, Cherian says) critic of Lee Kuan Yew and his - or now, his son's - government. In a blog post, Nair has openly acknowledged the fact that he has defamed Lee, gave his full address and contact details, and dared the police to arrest him - which they did. He was quite literally asking for trouble.

The Global Financial Crisis as Opportunity for Resistance

Hong Kong.
The final speaker in this session at The Internet Turning 40 is Jack Qiu, who highlights the impact of the current financial crisis (in a study focussing on China and South Korea) and begins by playing a melody originally created to commemorate the Kwangju massacre in Korea which has now been repurposed as a kind of pan-Asian "Internationale" (and was performed in this version by the New Labour Art Troupe, a migrant workers orchestra in China which has released three CDs so far and also published its music online under a Creative Commons licence).

Surveillance and Society

Hong Kong.
The next session at The Internet Turning 40 starts with a presentation by David Lyon, on surveillance technologies. He begins by noting a recent Simpsons episode that addressed surveillance (usually a sure sign that this is now an issue of popular discussion) and portrayed subversive resistance against such technologies. Surveillance has been concerned traditionally with visual observation, but this is now only the tip of the iceberg; additionally, today it is no longer only government institutions which engage in surveillance, and this is reducing the amount of physical or informational space which still remains surveillance-free.

What Makes Chinese College Students Support Censorship of Pornography?

Hong Kong.
The third paper in this post-lunch session at The Internet Turning 40 is Ran Wei, and examines third-person effects on support for restrictions of Internet pornography amongst college students in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Shanghai has some 19 million residents, some 11 million of whom are Internet users; their Internet use is governed by Chinese government prohibitions of undesirable content. By contrast, Hong Kong with its seven million inhabitants has greater press freedoms, and online pornography is readily available.

Beyond the Public Sphere and Public Service Institutions

Hong Kong.
The next speaker at The Internet Turning 40 is Frank Webster, who shifts our focus from taking stock of existing research areas to exploring the future; his interest is in the future of the public sphere in the age of the Internet. He notes the existence of a Social Democratic consensus (certainly in Europe) that it is necessary for state agencies to intervene in the informational realm, because the market alone cannot be trusted to provide for an informed citizenry and is complicated by the growth of PR and corporate lobbying. So, state intervention aims to provide adequate information to the public, to ensure that democracy works effectively. This is legitimated by the concept of the public sphere, which is served by public service institutions.

Political Blogs and Transparency

The second speaker in this EDEM 2010 session is Evgeniya Boklage, whose interest is in the impact of the political blogosphere on communicative transparency. Transparency is crucial for interpersonal communication; it is an existential prerequisite for deliberative processes, too. If we consider the public sphere as a communicative system, the key functions are transparency (input), validation (throughput), and orientation (output), and Evgeniya focusses on the first of these here.

Towards European Citizenship?

We're now starting the post-lunch session on this last day of EDEM 2010, and the first speaker is Alexander Balthasar. His fundamental question is what citizenship of the European Union may mean, following the recent treaty process. This is highlighted especially by the instrument of the European Citizens' Initiative, which has been positioned by European bodies as a kind of petition process, but could also become a much more powerful or flexible instrument rivaling proposals by the EU Council or Parliament. The obvious difference is that in order to launch an ECI, 'only' one million signatures are required, whereas Council or Parliament have a more clearly legitimated mandate to act.

Strategies for Strengthening e-Participation in Europe

The final speaker in this EDEM 2010 session is Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen, who examines the current status of e-participation in the European Union. All EU states have a relatively equal level of e-participation take-up, even in spite of their very different historical trajectories; that take-up is highly variable across local, national, and transnational levels, however.

The older European democracies are substantially more active at the local level, for example, while cross-border initiatives are generally limited (even in spite of European integration and strong cross-border ties in a number of regions). Indeed, the local level is generally best developed, with sophistication declining markedly towards the national and transnational levels. This is interesting also given that substantial public funding is coming from the EU and national levels, rather than from local public authorities.

New Opportunities for e-Enabled Parliaments

The next EDEM 2010 speaker is Aspasia Papaloi, who begins by exploring the meaning of the parliamentary institution - its various roles in democratic society. Today, in addition to conventional national parliaments, there are also a range of additional parliament-style initiatives - such as age-group (e.g. youth) parliaments, social parliaments (e.g. defined by specific socioeconomic factors), thematic parliaments (around specific issues), or other alternative parliaments.

Župa: Making Democratic Society Machine-Readable

The next session at EDEM 2010 starts with Alois Paulin, who introduces the problem of modern government as being controlled by representatives and bureaucrats. if they are good, they are inefficient and expensive; if they are bad, they're corrupt. To solve that problem, we need to substitute their tasks: the role of the representative would need to be replaced by a more direct form of democracy, while the role of the bureaucrat (who follows rules) would need to be replaced by a technological system.


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