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Governing Telecommunications and the New Information Society in Europe

Edited by Jacint Jordana

European countries have recently been involved in an extremely broad set of regulatory changes to introduce competitive markets into the area of telecommunications. New policies to develop the information society in Europe are also emerging, taking into account the changes in regulations. The contributions included in this book examine several dimensions of these major European issues, including multi-level governance, the instruments used to produce these policy changes, and the European idiosyncrasies of globalisation trends.
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Chapter 11: The Dilemmas of an Inevitable Relationship: Democratic Innovation and the Information and Communication Technology

Joan Subirats


3802_GovernTelecom/Chap 11 22/8/02 9:00 am Page 1 11. The dilemmas of an inevitable relationship: democratic innovation and the information and communication technology Joan Subirats INTRODUCTION In a conference on the new information society, the rector of the Open University, John Daniel, said ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the new technologies are the answer. What was the question?’. The phrase is a good way of expressing the great expectations generated in many different areas of our lives by the prospect of the application of ICT (information and communication technology), but at the same time the prevailing disconcertion over their possible uses and impacts. The remark recalls the comment made by one of the fathers of wireless communication, Marconi, when a collaborator, flustered by the discovery, said, ‘We can talk with Florida’, to which Marconi responded: ‘But do we have anything to say to the people in Florida?’. Similarly, we can say that not a day goes by that we do not meet someone filled with enthusiasm for the possibilities opened by new technologies in the field of democracy and the functioning of the political system. But we should first think about the problems facing us today and in the potential and real uses of these ICTs. The present work aims to first point up the deficiencies of the current functioning of European democratic systems, and to later explore to what extent ICT can contribute to processes of innovation and improvement. It has been said that modernity can be defined...

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