Something Short

Using Ukraine as my point of reference, I decided to list some of the pros and cons of online media in democratic transition and consolidation. My eventual aim is to gain an understanding of why the same tools that enabled Ukraine’s democratic transition have been so ineffective at the stage of consolidation. Mind you, I am trying to avoid falling into the trap of techno-determinism. Rather than scrutinize the inherent qualities of the technology itself, I am examining how ICTs have functioned in the context of a real-life movement, particularly when they are co-opted by traditional civic actors.

Strengths:
– Disseminate info more quickly and to a wider audience (ex. exposing election fraud, organizing protests, etc.)
– More platforms for critical discussion – especially important in non-democratic regimes where fewer opportunities exist offline.
– Online coverage keeps international community informed of developments, more likely to provide monetary support and/or place pressure on government for democratic reform.

Weaknesses:
– social media tend to focus around very specific goals/causes (at least the most successful examples, e.g. meet ups scheduled on Facebook, particular grievance of election results, etc.). This doesn’t really do much to promote democracy in the long-run. People can disband after their goal is met.
– Many people don’t get online expressly for purposes of social or political activism.
– Online communities may lack organization and structure (although this is not always the case).
– Difficult to directly communicate with government through online forums, which makes actual political reform less likely.

I’ll continue this train of thought later… Have to run!