This is one of my political personal projects.a

Computer Networks and Political Process Reform

(This paper is still under construction.)


{Abstract goes here.}


While in theory, everybody in the United States of America is represented by elected representatives in the U.S. legislature, in practice, this representation has some serious inequities. Some examples of inequitable representation are listed below:

Current Network Usage in the Political Process

The political process has always used whatever technology is available to influence the electorate. During 1700's and early 1800's, newspapers, political posters and, to a much lesser extent, the U.S. Postal service were what was technologically available. With the advent of interstate railroads, presidental candidates were able to engage in public debates across the country (e.g. the famous debates between Lincoln and Douglas just prior to the american civil war.) During the 1900's, the deployment of telephone, radio, and television permitted political candidates to bring their messages directly into the homes of voters. The additional advent of high speed safe jet transportation has surplanted railroads in terms of moving candidates between political events. The emergance of computer networks in the late 1900's is just another technological medium to be mixed into the political process technology pot.

The political process is already alive and well on the global computer networks. People already use both E-mail and network newsgroups to discuss current politics. While as a group, polititians have been rather slow to get on-line E-mail addresses, more and more polititians are starting to do so. In addition, the distributed hypermedia embodied by the World Wide Web and Gopher is starting to be used as part of the political process well; this is evidanced by the White house, Senate, and House of Representatives having on-line presences via either the World Wide Web or Gopher facilities. In addition, the political organizations have started to get into the act (e.g. Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.)

While there are some simularities between E-mail and regular postal mail, there are some important differences that cause their usage pattern to be different. The cost, delivery time, and barriers use for E-mail are all lower than postal mail. The cost of sending an E-mail message is essentially zero when compared to cost of an envelope and stamp needed for a postal letter. E-mail is typically delivered in minutes rather than days. An E-mail message to a representative can be banged out on the keyboard in a couple minutes from start to finish, whereas the hassle of addressing an envelope and stamping it are relatively more labor intensive for postal mail. The net result is that a representative can expect significantly more E-mail per 1000 of on-line voters than the corresponding number of postal letters per 1000 of off-line voters. Indeed, the concept of a mail campaign whereby a number of voters will lobby for or against a particular piece of legislation by innundating a legislator will lots of mail messages will be be next to meaningless for E-mail, since just about anybody can write a simple script that will generate thousands of E-mail messages directed at a single on-line legislator. {E-mail and regular mail}

{Network News}

{Distributed Hypermedia}

Future Network Usage in the Political Process

{Legislation on-line}

{Political oraganization lobbying on-line}

{E-mail campaigns}

{E-mail fraud}

{Plausible deniability}

{Likely resistence}

{What can you do to make it happen}

This file, version 1.1 of index.html, was last updated at 23:40:11 on 95/12/02.

Copyright (c) 1993, 1994, 1995 -- Wayne C. Gramlich. All rights reserved.