It is fashionable these days to bemoan the state of democracy, voter participation is weak, public engagement is in decline and many citizens feel powerless and alienated. In fact many people do not even register to vote! Yet it is a fundamental assumption that democracy needs a healthy dose of public participation, this is even baked into the name, democracy is from the Greek “dēmokratía” (popular government). It has been a common meme that the internet would save democracy. Indeed a computer or smart phone in conjunction with the internet is a great communication device so it does seem to make intuitive sense that these devices could help “the people” connect with “the politicians.” But what has been the reality of the situation? Conspiracy websites, CNN stories who’s comment sections are filled with vulgarities, snarky tweets. It has been a poor showing for the internet so far! That is not to say that their are not many people and organizations trying to turn this around. On November 12th Yahoo will take a try at it. They are sponsoring a live streamed conference originating from Drake university. It has an interesting mix of people which promises some lively discussions and hopefully some new ideas. Check it out at The Yahoo News Conference on Technology and Politics. Good for them! I look forward to seeing how this turns out.