Award to Fund Study of the Impact of New Technology on Democratic Institutions
New York, N.Y. (June 7, 2012)—The Institute for Information Law & Policy at New York Law School (NYLS) was awarded an $800,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to convene an interdisciplinary planning group of leading researchers, public sector innovators, and technologists to design and develop a research network to study the impact of network technology on democratic institutions in the United States and globally, announced Dean Anthony W. Crowell. Professor Beth Simone Noveck will manage the project. Professor Noveck served in the White House as United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer (2009–2011) and leader of the White House Open Government Initiative.
“Professor Noveck will explore how to redesign our systems of governance to optimize the flow of values and expertise. The goal of the planning group will be to promote effective and participatory governance by developing tech-enabled policy experiments, accelerated assessment techniques, and a new theory of decentralized, networked democracy for the digital age,” said Dean Crowell.
According to Professor Noveck, the time is opportune—both politically and technologically—for such an endeavor. Ordinary people collectively write Wikipedia; organize protests in cyberspace and in the physical world; and pore over purloined State Department cables. From Tripoli to Tottenham to Wall Street, people have been protesting the inequality of outcomes resulting from current government policies and are frustrated by their inability to have a say in how those policies were made and how they should be amended. The same technologies enabling people to work together at a distance are creating the expectation to do better at governing ourselves and the opportunity to go beyond a system in which participation is limited to voting. Today, governments at the international, national, state, and local levels are beginning to apply the lessons learned from Wikipedia to governance.
“Innovations in data sharing are proliferating faster than the research community can assess them. If successful, our network will spawn a new generation of research and scholarship on technology and democracy and produce measurable innovations that make democratic government more stable, effective, and participatory,” said Professor Noveck.
The research network will meet five times over the coming year to address major research questions and articulate how different disciplines would approach the study of impact of new technology on democratic institutions. The goal of the planning group will be to build new platforms and processes that increase networked ways of working and governing and the devolution of power from centralized, hierarchical institutions to networks. It will create a targeted research agenda to promote effective and participatory governance for the digital age. The group will use new technology to engage in preparatory work and broader public conversation. To enhance the interdisciplinary nature of the work, Professor Noveck will also serve as a visiting professor at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at NYU and at the MIT Media Lab next year.
York Law School
Founded in 1891, New York Law School is an independent law school located in lower Manhattan near the city’s centers of law, government, and finance. New York Law School’s renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School’s strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, labor and employment law, media and information law, tax law, real estate and urban legal studies, international law, financial services and regulation, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. www.nyls.edu
Information Law & Policy
The Institute for Information Law & Policy is New York Law School’s home for the study of law, technology, and civil liberties. Participants in the Institute aim not only to understand the interplay of law and technology but to influence its development. The Institute develops and applies theories of information and communication to analyze law and policy. It also seeks to design new technologies and systems that will best serve democratic values in the digital age.