Dialogue and public space: An exploration of radio and information communications technologies

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Canadian Journal of Political Science
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The use of internet technologies, specifically interactive electronic dialogues, has the potential to revive the shrinking Canadian public sphere. Precedent for this assertion can be found in the historical effect of radio technology. The development of Canadian radio forums in the twentieth century such as the National Farm Radio Forum and the Citizen's Forum provided a crude two way interactive medium that helped to shape collective Canadian norms and values. The internet holds the potential to reintroduce national dialogues and reinvigorate the public sphere at a time when Canadians both need and want to address national issues such as environmental concerns and sustainable development. As such dialogue occurs in a "cyberspace" removed from the limitations of physical geography, internet dialogues allow participants from widely diverse groups to come together, surmounting traditional barriers to interaction. Though the danger exists that internet technologies will be abused to reinforce passive static forms of communication, the potential for highly interactive two way dialogue holds the promise of bringing the public into timely and necessary debates on public policy.