Philip N. Howard: "If Your Government Fails, Can You Create a New One With Your Phone?"

The Atlantic

The Atlantic published an article by CMCS Director Philip N. Howard, called If Your Government Fails, Can You Create a New One With Your Phone? How citizens are using technology to fill in for weak states.

"Wherever governments are in crisis, in transition, or in absentia, people are using digital media to try to improve their condition, to build new organizations, and to craft new institutional arrangements. Technology is, in a way, enabling new kinds of states," Phil writes. "Information technologies like cellphones and the Internet are generating small acts of self-governance in a wide range of domains and in surprising places."

Using examples from around the globe, he argues that "in the last 10 years, we've gone from imagining that the Internet might one day change the nature of governance to finding a plethora of examples of how this is really done":

International aid can help prop up a failing state and can help fund rebuilding operations in a state that has failed. However, the citizens themselves have to do the hard work of the actual rebuilding. These days, as people see their state falling apart, they pull out their cellphones and make their own arrangements.