If digital technologies can be designed to maintain or sustain values, then the same technologies can be designed to manipulate or undermine those same values.
The aim of this special issue is to evaluate the social impact and social implications of new and emerging technologies on governance, politics, public administration, and policy-making, and to evaluate the future prospects of digital democracy, and its transformative potential for increasing public engagement, community empowerment, and social entrepreneurship.
It can be glibly asserted that technology makes accomplishing various activities easier. But it is not always obvious for whom it makes it easier to accomplish what. For example, the Internet has had a profound impact on academic publishing, and the transition from printed paper to digital format has ostensibly made it “easier” for academics to put their work in the public domain and, if they can actually get attention in a social-media sound-bite distracted world, reach a wider audience than ever before.
It is necessary to start somehow, even if you’ve got no map, no knowledge of the destination, and no milometer to measure the distance that has been covered. This can sometimes be the essence of collective action for addressing wicked problems. Sometimes human behavior defies top-down direction and even nudge, and begins instead with a single initiating event and snowballs from there.