Please Repost Widely                  Loka Alert 6:5 (1 Oct. 1999)
Where Appropriate


                     Using Democratic Criteria in
                 Participatory Technology Decisions

Friends & Colleagues:

     This is one in an occasional series on the democratic politics of
research, science, and technology issued free of charge by the
nonprofit Loka Institute.  To be added to the Loka Alert E-mail list,
or to reply to this post, please send a message to <[log in to unmask]>.

     This Loka Alert announces a new Loka Institute project on
"Identifying Democratic Technologies."  Further information about this
project is on the Web at <>.

     Cheers to all,
     Dick Sclove, Founder & Research Director
     The Loka Institute, P.O. Box 355, Amherst, MA 01004, USA
     E-mail <[log in to unmask]>, Web <>
     Tel. +1-413-559-5860; Fax +1-413-559-5811



                     Using Democratic Criteria in
                 Participatory Technology Decisions

            by Dick Sclove, E-mail <[log in to unmask]>
           Founder & Research Director, The Loka Institute

     No nation on earth has an effective system for taking into
account the profound effects that technologies exert on basic social
and political structures, including on democratic values and
institutions.  The absence of such a capability stunts fulfilment of
the democratic promise, thwarting people's opportunities to establish
the lives, communities, and societies they wish.

     In response, the Loka Institute has launched a new project on
"Identifying Democratic Technologies."  Our objective is to develop
participatory tools for evaluating crucial but neglected social
repercussions produced by technologies.  If successful, such tools can
function as alternatives to the economically-grounded methods (such as
cost-benefit analysis) that, despite their inability to take into
account technologies' impacts on basic social structure, today
dominate decisions about technology.

     Our immediate effort involves adapting "scenario workshops on
urban sustainability" -- a participatory technology assessment method
developed recently in Europe -- to incorporate the debate and use of
criteria for evaluating technologies' social and political
significance.  The criteria that we will use as a starting point
derive from my 1995 book _Democracy and Technology_ (New York and
London: Guilford Press).

       "The issues with which the Loka Institute's project
        on Identifying Democratic Technologies plans to
        grapple seem of fundamental significance to me.  I
        anticipate the results to prove of deep interest
        across a wide variety of contexts of application,
        be it in Europe, the United States, or elsewhere."

          -- Francisco Fernandez, Principal Administrator,
             European Commission Innovation Program

     An essay introducing the Loka Institute's new project on
Identifying Democratic Technologies appears on the Web at
<>.  The table of contents of that
essay is shown below:

                        THE MISSING HALF


1. Democratizing Technology: Historical & Theoretical
      Background (2 pages)

2. Debating & Applying Democratic Design Criteria (1 page)

3. European Scenario Workshops (2 pages)

4. Using Democratic Criteria Within Scenario Workshops on Urban
      Sustainability (3 pages)

   o  Table 1: Questions For Examining Technologies' Political Effects

5. Democratic Politics Versus Economics-As-Usual (1/2 page)

6. Next Steps (including What You Can Do) (1/2 page)


     The Loka Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated
to making research, science and technology responsive to
democratically decided social and environmental concerns.  Current
Loka projects include:

   o  The Community Research Network

   o  Deliberative Citizens' Panels on Science & Technology

   o  Identifying Democratic Technologies

   o  Building a Constituency for Democratizing Research, Science &

     TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE LOKA INSTITUTE, to participate in our
on-line discussion groups, to download or order publications, or to
help please visit our Web page: <>.  Or contact us
via E-mail at <[log in to unmask]>.