Some say that the last place where true democracy existed were the city-states of Ancient Greece. They had it all: Direct communication between citizens and public officials, complete transparency, minimal corruption.
Time passed and the population increased dramatically, which in part meant that public officials fell out of touch with the people who put them in office. To alleviate this, over time and in other societies, trade unions, non-governmental organizations and various movements were started — and democracy got more complicated.
Turns out, this is all backwards. In my view, modern people no longer identify themselves by any one characteristic. No longer do they self-identify primarily by a social class, or a particular way of thinking. Linear progression has been completely replaced by a parallel, simultaneous, multi-directional approach to life and all its aspects. Trade unions and NGOs are obsolete, or fast becoming so. Modern people detest inaccessibility and institutionalization; they crave trust and connection.
It is the second decade of 21st century! Technology pushes the boundaries of connection and communication. Old rules are re-written, social norms shift constantly, and the world is primed for a new playing field. We need the tools and structures of democracy to catch up. I think technology has a bigger role to play.
Imagine a tool that puts people back into the decision-making equation. Made by people for people. This would be a platform that clearly shows which ideas and initiatives aimed at improving the lives of citizens generate the most interest from society. A platform that allows you to enlist the support of your friends for the causes you deem most important. A place that shows how close projects and initiatives are to being implemented. A public forum where you have access to important government information without having to look for it elsewhere.
We are all interested in our friends’ opinions. This platform shows them to you. Also, people with similar opinions on a given subject will be connected, thus making further communication easier. Democracy of the Ancient Greeks is long gone, but maximum transparency and public officials that listen to the people are just a step away.
The latest public elections in my country, Latvia, helped convince me that we need a platform like the one outlined above. My business partner and I have begun work on one, but I’d like to hear what you think the ideal democracy-enabling platform would look like. What’s your vision? Share your thoughts in the comments below.