Digital Government and Democratic Engagement

Digital Government and Citizen Engagement

Megan Beretta, co-founder of Ottawa Civic Tech and The Canadian Digital Service, joins us this week to discuss digital democracy and how citizens should engage in a healthy state.

There was a LOT to cover. We’ll probably do this again with Meg at some point. But here are some links to check out…

Digital Democracy Think Tanks and Lobby Groups

Democracy Club

WebRoots Democracy

Trust and Democracy

Andrew spoke about Tony Judt’s book ‘Ill Fares the Land’. You can read a review by the Guardian here.


I (Alice) am a huge fan of agonism right now and I’m really interested in how it can help shape the design of internet communication platforms. Fundamentally, agonism states that any appeals to ‘rationality’ or what is ‘reasonable’ can only be called this because of the dominant discourse in society. For example, what we believed is rational in 11th century England is very different from what we would call rational today. However, deliberative democrats state that we give legitimacy to the power of our political institutions through a rational consensus. This comes about through deliberation. I kinda reject this. However, the main criticism of agonism states that we need to have consensus in some manner in order to progress. I agree with this statement, but I don’t believe it’s a good criticism of agonism. You can highlight the power structures in political institutions and design communication platforms in a way that helps identify these conflicts. You can also see disagreement as a good and democratic thing. But you can have political institutions on top of these things that promote consensus. It’s just that these political institutions don’t have legitimacy through deliberation.

If you wanna know more then check out the Agonist wiki, email me, or pick up a book on agonism (though I’m not sure which are the good ones rn… I’m ploughing my way through Mouffe’s primary texts and in parts they are v v v heavy). Maybe we’ll do a podcast on this soon.

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Contact Alice here, and contact Andrew here. These are our Twitters: @alicelthwaite and @agstrait. Megan is found on Twitter @megberetta.

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See you all next week! (In a kinda way where we’re not seeing you, but you hear us, and we don’t actually know who you all are… So email us!)