Not by technology alone: The "analog" aspects of online public engagement in policymaking

Dmitry Epstein*, Mary Newhart, Rebecca Vernon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Between Twitter revolutions and Facebook elections, there is a growing belief that information and communication technologies are changing the way democracy is practiced. The discourse around e-government and online deliberation is frequently focused on technical solutions and based in the belief that if you build it correctly they will come. This paper departs from the literature on digital divide to examine barriers to online civic participation in policy deliberation. While most scholarship focuses on identifying and describing those barriers, this study offers an in-depth analysis of what it takes to address them using a particular case study. Based in the tradition of action research, this paper focuses on analysis of practices that evolved in Regulation Room-a research project of CeRI (Cornell eRulemaking Initiative) that works with federal government agencies in helping them engage public in complex policymaking processes. It draws a multidimensional picture of motivation, skill, and general political participation divides; or the "analog" aspects of the digital divide in online civic participation and policy deliberation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)337-344
Number of pages8
JournalGovernment Information Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon the work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. NSF IIS-1111176 and No. NSF IIS-1314778 . Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


  • Civic engagement
  • Digital divide
  • E-Participation
  • E-Rulemaking
  • Socio-technical systems


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