Archive for September, 2009

Digital Inclusion – Is There Always A Business Case?

30. September 2009 – 18:03 by Dan Jellinek

On Monday night I helped to organise a ‘fringe meeting’ at the Labour Party conference –the annual members’ conference organised by the political party currently in power in the UK (though not, most people predict, for much longer).

The official business of the conference consists of stage-managed debates involving party activists, interspersed with excitable set-piece speeches from high–profile politicians including the Prime Minister.

But the real fun happens outside the main venue, at a network of hotels, bars and pubs hosting the fringe meetings – semi-formal events of all sizes focusing on key political topics.

Our meeting was hosted by the Sussex Community Internet Project (SCIP), a local non-profit body I chair which provides IT support to community groups and charities in Sussex and the surrounding area. The subject was ‘Digital inclusion’ –how to ensure everyone is included in the digital revolution, which of course is a key first step to e-participation.

Our speakers included Graham Walker, director of strategy at the UK’s new Digital Inclusion Taskforce (led by the recently-appointed ‘Digital Champion’, entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox).

It seems it will certainly be worth following closely the work of the taskforce (which, ironically, does not yet appear to have its own website). From what Graham Walker told our meeting, a large part of the agency’s work will be to draw together and champion existing digital inclusion policy strands such as an imminent project to fully fund home computers for all families with school-age children. He also said the starting point for both spreading projects like computer funding to different areas of government like job-seeking, or for starting up any other brand-new digital inclusion project, will be to analyse their business case – for example, if you spend x on getting hard-to-connect people online, then you will gain 2x through economic benefits, or save 2x by steering people away from benefits or crime.

All well and good, but do all such projects have a raw or easily measurable business case? Take broadband for example. Part of the digital inclusion agenda is to ensure as many people as possible, including those living in remote rural areas, have high speed internet access. But clearly this is not commercially viable, and surely it might sometimes be hard to draw up a solid ‘socio-economic benefit’ business case as well, other than to simply say it is the fair thing (usually) to do? Others (including one attendee I spoke to) might take a harsher view and even just say that if people want to live in remote areas, they shouldn’t automatically expect high-speed internet access.

It’s a tricky area, and time will tell how much the taskforce can achieve, particularly with an apparent three-year time limit (and perhaps even less if a different incoming government decides to put the brakes on).

Web 2.0 Hits Malmo!

29. September 2009 – 18:26 by Julia Glidden

You know that an ICT trend really has come of age when it takes centre court at a Ministerial level eGovernment Conference.  eVoting made its debut in 2003 in Como, eParticipation at Manchester in 2005 and now Web 2.o looks set to follow suite in Malmo.

I imagine many PepNet members thinking ‘ but of course!’ while reading this entry.  Still, I recall well the near-stunned silence when I first pasted pictures of young person’s MySpace and Facebook pages on the massive plasma screens adorning the halls of the Slovenian Luanch of the EU Presidency in 2008.  I also recall well my relief that I wasn’t hauled off the stage when I used a photo of a scantily clad young woman in red lingerie to visualise generational differences about privacy!

That Malmo will now feature a special session on how Web 2.0 can be used to increase citizen involvement in the production and use of public services shows just how far the topic has come.  While I won’t use any half naked photos to illustrate my points during this session - I will certainly be making the point that the expectation of communication, collaboration and co-creation that Web 2.0 has unleashed is here to stay!

For those of you interested in the topic, please join my session ‘Experiences and Initiatives - Engaging the Citizens of the eUnion’  on Thursday November 19, 2009.   Please also feel free to forward me any ideas you might have on the making of a great presentation!

Joint the WAVE for breakfast at Sophia Antipolis 16th October!

29. September 2009 – 15:46 by Olga Lacigova - 21c


Just 100 days before the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, Fondation Sophia Antipolis, a partner of the WAVE project, will be hosting a breakfast meeting entitled:

Reduction of Greenhouse Gases:  How to Intensify the Efforts?

The meeting will take place on Friday 16th October 2009 at 9am at the Picasso room - Place Sophie Laffitte - Fondation Sophia Antipolis

The breakfast aims to:

  • Discuss the emergency of the climate change topic with involved actors such as politicians, NGO, scientists, civil servants etc.
  • Launch the French WAVE website ( and introduce the innovative argument visualisation tool – the DebateGraph – to the community
  • Reinforce the participation of citizens in the legislative and decisional process within the parliaments and governments

The WAVE project co-funded by the European Commission – aims to improve the inclusiveness and transparency of EU decision making at the national and European level by using highly integrated, state-of-the-art Argument Visualisation techniques to make the impact of complex EU environmental legislation on climate change more accessible and easy to understand for citizens, special interest groups and decision makers alike.

For more information and to register, please contact Farouk Raïs at: / /+33 (0) 4 92 96 78 05

The 10th World eDemocracy Forum and PEP-Net

26. September 2009 – 09:22 by Eric Legale

The World eDemocracy Forum is one of the main venues for key international e-Participation players. As founding member of PEP-Net, I would like to make this annual event a promotional event for our network. The election of Barack Obama at the White House has validated theories developed in the Forum since ten years on the impact of ICT on political life and civic participation. Time is coming for more concrete practice. We want now to bring to light those who daily work to build the digital society for citizens.

It is why our special guests are finalists of the e-Democracy Awards, selected by our partners (PoliticsOnline in US, Politech Institute in Europe, Blog Territorial in France). They are coming from USA, Egypt, Bolivia, Italy, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany or UK and each of them has a project, an idea, an application that transforms politics in their countries and beyond. We are very excited to learn more and more about new practices.

The World eDemocracy Forum is participating in the “Pep-Net Conference Series”, an initiative started by Pep-Net members, who are organizing conferences throughout the years 2009 and 2010. As a special programme there will be additional workshops lead by Pep-Net members and invited speakers. After Vienna (September) and Berlin (October) and before London (November), Issy (Paris) will be the next stop for PEP-Net members (October 22-23).

We organize a special visit in the French National Assembly.  A meeting with the chairman of the IT group in the National Assembly is specially organized for PEP-Net members on the following question: “Is it possible to transfer Obama’s net-campaign to Europe?”. It is a reference of the interesting note published by Hans Hagedorn last August.

- The World eDemocracy Forum Program
- Registration (Special rate for PEP-Net members)

Please note that Paris is a very attractive destination for tourism. It is sometime difficult to book a room close to the conference. Don’t wait for book your room in our partner: “Hotel Ocenia“.

I hope to meet you in Paris !

Participation Processes in Aragon to Debate on the Mountain

25. September 2009 – 09:08 by ASAEL


The members of the table for discussion on the Mountain have been held on August 25 its fifth meeting, once signed a consensus document on the Development Model for Mountain territories. In it, the debate has begun on the contents of the future Law has been initiated, work which will continue until the end of the year. Participants have been cited for a new session on September 15.


This space for dialogue was created with the desire to explore the possibilities of rapprochement and agreement in reference to the conflicts of the mountain. After the Constitution of the Bureau, has begun a deliberation phase that lasts until the first quarter of 2010, after which, conclusions will be presented. Furthermore, from this process you can also access to the information generated by this table for discussion and also to relevant documents such as regulatory Block application to mountain areas in Aragon.


The Bureau of debate on the Mountain aims to deliberate for a year on the conflicts in the mountains in Aragon and the formulation of a law on the Mount make compatible the development of these areas with the desire of people living with dignity in the territory. Therefore, such development must be sustainable in economic, social and environmental ways.


For this purpose it is wanted to count on the complicity of all the stakeholders involved, so it was decided that the 13 members of this forum for dialogue should be agreed with the two entities represented at the first session of the conflict, the Association of Local Aragonese Pyrenees (ADELPA) and the Platform in Defense of Mountains.


Marcelino Iglesias, President of the Government of Aragon, has undertaken to inform the Parliament of the outcome of this debate at the end thereof and also supporting the process of elaboration of the Natural Resource Management (PORN) of Anayet. Also, it won’t be advanced any proposal on this area until it is the initial approval PORN.


Who is involved

The General Director of Citizen Participation, Nacho Celaya, ADELPA and the Platform in Defense of Mountains have decided that the table should be composed of 13 members, three representatives of the Government of Aragon, with a technical support role, and ten actors:


 - As representatives of the Government of Aragon, with technical and facilitative role: the General Director of Citizen Participation, Nacho Celaya-as-coordinator, a representative of the Department of Land Planning (Alfredo Cajal and Paul Dolz ), and a representative of the Environment Department (Roque Vincente and Angel Garcia).


- As actors representing all viewpoints:

1 Representative on behalf of the President of the Government of Aragon, Miguel Gracia and Ignacio Revillo.

2 Representatives on behalf of ADELPA: Raúl López, José María Abarca, Joaquin Paricio and Jose Luis Sanchez.

2 Representatives on behalf of the Platform in Defense of Mountains: Paco Iturbe, Manuel Badia and Juan Carlos Cirera.

1 Representative on behalf of the Aragonese Federation of Municipalities, Counties, Regions and Provinces (FAMCP): Martin Nicholas and Jesus Edo.

1 Representative on behalf of Aragonese employers: Jesus Morte (CREA).

1 Representative on behalf of the Agrarian Union: Maximino Portaña (UAGA) and Ramon Ballarín (ASAJA).

1 Representative on behalf of the Aragonese Federation of Mountaineering: Fernando Modesto Lampre Pascau

1 Representative on behalf of the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology: Concepcion Lopez and Daniel Gomez.


Under the agreement, each entity has twice elected members assigned, which may participate in the table interchangeably. In addition, all appointees will receive minutes of meetings. In case an issue or more localized conflict is pointed out, the representative may be from the affected area. There may also be contemplating the possibility of attending guests, due to their significance, should be convenient to attend specific meetings.

Work Development


Commissioning of creation and announcement of commitments


On 14th April 2009, the President of the Government of Aragon, Marcelino Iglesias, accompanied by the Minister of Land Planning, Justice and Interior, Rogelio Silva and General Director of Citizen Participation, Nacho Celaya, met with representatives of the Platform in Defense of Mountains and the Association of Local Organizations in the Aragonese Pyrenees (Adelpa). At this first meeting undertook the establishment of a panel, consisting of twelve people and coordinated by Nacho Celaya, to be discussed during one year on:


• The development model for the mountain.

• The scope and content of future mountain counties law.

• And the chances of agreement on specific conflicts.


The General Director of Citizen Participation, ADELPA and Platform in Defense of Mountains should agree the members involved. Meanwhile, Marcelino Iglesias agreed to transfer the final results to the Parliament of Aragon, and support the development Anayet PORN and not advance any proposal on this area until it was approved this plan.


Presentation of the final members


After two meetings to agree on members of the board between the coordinator, Nacho Celaya ADELPA and Platform in Defense of Mountains, on June 9TH met the participants in this space for dialogue to establish definitively the table for discussion.


In this session, held in the Board Bayeu of Pignatelli Building, all participants unanimously agreed on the previous proposal objectives, methodology and timetable. From this commitment, deliberation stage began to tackle the mountain model, a future act of mountains and the possible resolution of specific conflicts.




A development model


On June 23rd at Edificio Pignatelli, the officers held the second meeting which set out the various sensitivities on the development model they advocate for these territories. During the session, it was also discussed the concept of mountain territories and legislation affecting these areas, with the aim of agreeing a proposal document that sets out the principles and lines of action as a basis for future Act Mountain.


On July 7th at the County Council of Huesca, the officers held their third meeting, where it was discussed the draft development model, developed with the contributions already made. This discussion, seeking consensus on a final document was focused on: the basic principles that should guide the model, the potential of the uniqueness of the mountain and the primary sector model wanted to empower.


On 14th July was held in Zaragoza in the headquarters of Aragon Government, the fourth meeting to finalize the Development Model for Mountain territories.


On July 31st, all members of the Bureau of Debate on the Mountain signed this consensus document as a basis for developing future Law. Before the participants of the Bureau were introduced into the interior of all entities involved, ratifying it and so do the final signing. Thus, here concludes the work of the first phase.


Contents of the Law


On August 25th, in Building Pignatelli, the officers have met to assess the work done so far and start working on the contents of the future Law of the Mountain. The session presented a legislative proposal which script is based on three axes:


1 - The protection of unique natural spaces.

2 - Support the development and welfare of the inhabitants of the mountain.

3 - The regulation of land use.

On each of them it has been displayed the planning tools and existing regulations. In September, it will combine organizations internal working, the debate on the fields or content of the law and addressing the most contentious projects affecting the development of mountain territories.


Until the end of the year, work will focus on two main issues:


- The scope and content of future law of the Mountain. Considering that participants should establish agreed principles and contents to help develop a mountain counties Law.

- And besides, will address specific conflicts with the goal of finding consensus solutions to pass ‘from no to maybe no’.




Upon conclusion of the meetings to be held until the first quarter of 2010, the President of the Government of Aragon, Marcelino Iglesias, will inform the Parliament of Aragon in the results. The main objective is that the process ends with the approval of the Law of the Mountain able to reconcile development of mountain areas, allowing people to live with dignity in their territory, that development is sustainable from an economical, social, and environmental point of view.



For more information:

What Happened to the Eastern Block?

24. September 2009 – 19:17 by Olga Lacigova - 21c

I was just reviewing the 52 finalists of the 2009 eGovernment Awards that will be competing on the 19th of November 2009 in Malmö, Sweden in 4 categories. I was impressed by the high quality of candidate projects/applications such as the Front Office Employment (, a Belgian website helping people to find suitable jobs or MEPA (Malta Environment and Planning Authority) (, a Maltese portal that aims to ensure land use and protection of environment meet the needs of today’s society.

Although impressed by the quality of the selected projects, I was disappointed by the monotone representation of candidates by country. For example Spain has eight entries; the Netherlands has six, while France has none. And even more disturbingly, Eastern Europe is represented only by Estonia who has two entries. It makes me wonder what the reason for this phenomenon is. Does it mean that Easter Europe is less democratic or does it mean that Eastern Europe has less funding for eGovernment projects? Is there a need for concern or can we hope for time to break this uniformity of candidates?

Procesos de Participación en Aragón para Debates sobre la Montaña

23. September 2009 – 13:22 by ASAEL

Los integrantes de La Mesa de Debate sobre la Montaña han celebrado el 25 de agosto su quinta reunión, una vez firmado un documento de consenso sobre el Modelo de desarrollo para los territorios de Montaña. En ella han comenzado el trabajo de debate sobre los contenidos de la futura Ley, que se continuará hasta finales del año. Los participantes se han citado para una nueva sesión el 15 de septiembre.

Este espacio de diálogo nace con el deseo de explorar las posibilidades de acercamiento y acuerdo en referencia a los conflictos de la montaña. Tras la Constitución de la Mesa, ha comenzado la fase de Deliberación que durará hasta el primer trimestre de 2010, tras la cual se presentarán las Conclusiones. Además, desde este proceso también puedes acceder a la Información que genere esta Mesa de debate y a documentos de interés, como el Bloque normativo de aplicación a las zonas de Montaña en Aragón.

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How democratic countries try to control the Internet

23. September 2009 – 12:41 by Zebralog / Hans Hagedorn

Controlling Internet Content is a sensitive issue for all governments – democratic or non-democratic. However, the kind of censorship applied in China or Iran is a complex matter and should be discussed by other authors. This article gives a short overview of current activities in recognized democratic countries. It raises the question, if national regulation of the Net is appropriate at all.

German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Ursula von der Leyen, recently caused a lot of protest from net activists. In an attempt to fight child pornography, she introduced a law that obliges Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install „Stop-signs“ in front of corresponding websites. Her opponents criticize this plan, because of the stop-signs being technical insufficient (they can rather easily be circumvented through other DNS-Servers) and they just hide the problem instead of fighting it.

Protests against German Minister Ursula von der Leyen

German Minister Ursula von der Leyen facing protests against her Internet filtering plans. by jan.gosmann,, CC by US 2.0

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SISP-Conference 2009 and “Condividi la conoscenza 2009”. Two Italian events rich in suggestions about (e)participation.

16. September 2009 – 22:45 by University Bergamo

In the next days in Italy there will be some relevant events for researchers, decision makers, activists, ordinary citizens, interested in the state of the public debate about Internet, democracy and participation, particularly in this country, where even freedom of information has recently become an hot issue (see the petition launched by La Repubblica, which has gathered more than 370.000 signature in two weeks, and the demonstration announced for saturday 19th September in the capital.

The annual conference of the Italian Society of Political Science (SISP) will be held 17th-19th September at the LUISS University in Rome. This edition has a very rich program, and many interesting panels are directly or indirectly related to e-participation (for an overview see the conference website ( ). Particularly worth of attention is the panel about Citizenship rights and new digital environment. To acknowledge the centrality of the institutional contexts - too much often neglected in the discourse about e-democracy- is a fruitful way to frame the problem of citizens participation in the Internet era. Among the speakers the panel includes Francesco Amoretti (Professor of International relations, University of Salerno), Carlo Formenti (Professor of Sociology of new media, University of Salento), Claudia Padovani (Professor of International communication, University of Padova) and Stefano Rodotà (Professor of Law, University La Sapienza - Rome, and former National Authority on data and privacy protection). As a leading scholar of the Italian studies about network-society, Rodotà has advanced the proposal of an Internet Bill of rights at the WSIS of Athens (2006), then included in the agenda of the Internet Governance Forum.
The range of issues arisen along the panel is wide and very relevant: privacy and ’securization’ of the cyberspace, human rights and digital exclusion, public policies focusing information society, privatization of the online public sphere, but also opportunity to support emancipatory approaches within digital communities. According to the abstracts, the need of a new affirmation of the fundamental citizens rights (from civil ones to, I would add, social rights) on the Internet emerges as a crucial variable for the development of the democratic potential of the new media. The prevailing pessimistic worry about the current international situation emerging from the panel makes more relevant the (need of) possible role of civil society and citizens in re-addressing the political agenda. In this direction, the diffusion of a more mature awareness of the Internet social, political and economic dimensions is essential.

On the side of the civil society initiatives, it is worth of attention the third edition of the event “Condividi la conoscenza” (“Share the knowledge”), organized by a wide Italian network of activists, practitioners/stakeholders of free/open licensing: ICT professionals and entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists, associations devoted to digital rights, ICT researchers, teachers. Condividi3 will be hosted at the University of Milano on 23 September. The issue of free knowledge is the core-value of this civil society network. The different panels will deal with the benefits of open and free contents and software in fields like public administration, universities, public libraries, small enterprises, associations, etc. This is a very important aspect strictly connected to the pre-conditions of (e)participation, giving evidence to the continuity among the opportunities of social, cultural and political participation.

Images for reflection (II): “So… what is (e)participation?”

10. September 2009 – 08:25 by Asociacion Ciudades Kyosei / Pedro Prieto-Martin

But... What is (e)Participation?

Again: everybody is invited to reflect.

(this image was introduced and partly explained as part of the discussion on the previous post: Impressions of the eDem 09 conference in Vienna). Reproduced below:

[ Well, I’m not sure if the “e-” should be dropped. Dropping could be too radical, and the e actually “adds” some meaning.
But I’m also not happy with the suggestion from Peter: to consider Participation and e-Participation as two very related things, but somehow also different: e-Participation understood as an extra channel for participation. Thus, we would need to be able recognize how to combine both and when to use each of them.

I think what is needed is to correctly relate the “e-” side to the “Participation” side of the mix.

And this means:

1. Recognize the diminishing meaning of the e- part of the term. In the next years the “e-” will surely just disappear. In the same way that we no longer speak about e-Banking, because we assume that any “Banking” worth its name MUST integrate an “e-” infrastructure that empowers it… citizen Participation without an “e-” backing will simply be a contradiction in terms.
It’s the same case with “electric lighting” too. “Electric lighting” was probably an expression profusely used at the beginning of the XX Century: but now, most of the time, we no longer explicitly name it “electric” -we just assume lighting “is” electric, since gaslighting belongs to our history.

This is the reason why our association, since years, uses the alternative “(e)Participation” term, that emphasizes the fading significance of the “e”.

2. But at the same time that the “(e)” significance fades away… it gains more and MORE importance.
It is clear that the “e” doesn’t change the fundamental meaning of “participation”, that it doesn’t change its essence.
[Sadly enough, most “experts” on e-Participation still do not realize this. They have traditionally considered (and “sold”) e-Participation as something essentially different from Participation. And they have done this because, in most cases, they had NO idea what the traditional “Participation” is about, and what are the problems and dynamics associated with it. And they weren’t willing to read the thousands of socio-political papers devoted to it -( ].

Anyway, let’s go back: we were saying that the diminishing “(e)” does not change the nature of Participation.
But as time goes by, it will completely change the way Participation works. And it will also change our notions on what is possible to attain through Participation (and thus: through Democracy).
Again, the (e)Banking example is very illustrative. Using computers, networks and the Internet for banking and finance revolutionized what could be done. Not sure if those changes were for good… but the fact is that (e)banking, without changing the very nature of banking, radically changed the way banking works. ]

[This second “Image for reflection” tries to express in a vivid an humorous way what we have just explained.]