ForumBlog.org, Dec 17th, 2012
The ongoing spat between the cyber community and the United Nation’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) reveals a much larger crisis that the world is increasingly facing – the crisis of the legitimacy of representation.
The UN and the Internet are arguably two of humanity’s greatest accomplishments of the 20th century: both bring the world closer by facilitating dialogue and though each has its flaws most would agree that the world is a better place because of their creation.
With so much in common then, why do the two communities find themselves embroiled in conflict?
The underlying issue, I would argue, is that in the same way the United Nations changed the world’s expectations around how problems are solved, so too is the Internet in bringing about a sea change in how citizens expect to be represented in both government and markets.
The UN was designed based on the principle of representative government. As citizens, our voices are represented via a proxy delegate appointed by the proxy government charged with representing our will.
This system, when implemented well, has succeeded in reducing violent conflict, increasing qualities of life and reducing civil strife by empowering citizens with the means to provide an input into their governance.
The digital revolution and direct popular representation
The conflict we’re beginning to see comes from the fact that the tools of the Internet are enabling individuals to represent themselves in conversations previously managed by proxy representatives.