Skip to the main content
Internet and Democracy
Past Project

Internet and Democracy

The Internet and Democracy Project is an initiative that will examine how the Internet influences democratic norms and modes, including its impact on civil society, citizen media, government transparency, and the rule of law, with a focus on the Middle East. Through a grant of $1.5 million from the US Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, the Berkman Center will undertake the study over the next two years in collaboration with its extended community and institutional partners.  As with all its projects, the Berkman Center retains complete independence in its research and other efforts under this grant. 

The goal of this work is to support the rights of citizens to access, develop and share independent sources of information, to advocate responsibly, to strengthen online networks, and to debate ideas freely with both civil society and government. These subjects will be examined through a series of case studies in which new technologies and online resources have influenced democracy and civic engagement.  The project will include original research and the identification and development of innovative web-based tools that support the goals of the project.  The team, led by Project Director Bruce Etling, will draw on communities from around the world, with a focus on the Middle East.

Follow the research or join in the conversation through a number of different project tools, including our blog, and RSS feed.

OPML Library Resources

The Internet & Democracy Project maintains an ongoing database of notable tools that we encounter in our research.

Internet & Democracy Tools Database

A collection of cutting edge tech tools that support activists and community organizing. These tools were identified at the Tech Tools External Research Meeting for the Internet and Democracy Project.

Internet & Democracy H2O Playlist (Tech Tools External Research Meeting)

A collection of resources to aid in promoting dialogue around issues in democracy. This includes theoretical texts as well as media and internet and democracy readings.

Internet & Democracy H20 Playlist (Theoretical Democracy Sources)

A collection of resources that consider the Internet and democracy, including case studies.

Internet & Democracy H20 Playlist (Internet and Democracy Sources)

This project is sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of State. 

Our Work 17

Dec 9, 2010

Political Change in the Digital Age: The Fragility and Promise of Online Organizing

In this paper, we discuss the possible impact of digital technologies in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes. More

Jun 17, 2009 @ 10:00 AM

Online Discourse in the Arab World: Dispelling the Myths

at the United States Institute of Peace

The Internet & Democracy presents the Berkman Center's new research on the Arabic blogosphere, which analyzes over 10,000 blogs from 18 countries and which follows last year's … More

Jun 16, 2009

Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture and Dissent

This case study is part of a series produced by the Internet and Democracy project. It analyzes the composition of the Arabic blogosphere and its possible impact on political and… More

Mar 30, 2009

Three Case Studies from Switzerland: Smartvote, Electronic Voting, and Political Communication

With the globalization of Internet use, the deployment of technology to improve democracy has rapidly gained worldwide attention. These case studies are organized around three… More

Mar 5, 2009 @ 9:00 AM

The Internet and Democracy: Lessons Learnt and Future Directions

This event, organized in collaboration with the OII and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism brought together leading researchers to assess the current state of… More

Mar 5, 2009

2007 Circumvention Landscape Report: Methods, Uses, and Tools

A large variety of different projects have developed tools that can be used to circumvent Internet filtering, allowing people in filtered countries access to otherwise filtered… More

Mar 4, 2009 @ 5:00 PM

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Online Audiences and the Paradox of Web Traffic

Dr. Matthew Hindman, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University

Many areas of Internet scholarship make strong--and often erroneous--assumptions about patterns of Web traffic. Still, there has been little comprehensive research on how online… More

Nov 25, 2008 @ 12:30 PM

The Blogging Revolution: Going online in repressive regimes

Antony Loewenstein

In 2007, Australian journalist, author and blogger Antony Loewenstein traveled to Egypt, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China to investigate how the net was challenging… More

Oct 17, 2008 @ 8:30 AM

Russia Online: the Russian-Language Blogosphere and Participatory Internet

An all-day conference in New York City made possible by the collaboration of the Harriman Institute and the School of Journalism at Columbia University, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Conference Wiki: User: russiaonline PW: columbia This conference is open to the public. Seating may be… More

Sep 29, 2008

Digitally Networked Technology in Kenya's 2007-2008 Post-Election Crisis

Using the lens of the 2007-2008 Kenyan Presidential Election Crisis, this case study illustrates how digitally networked technologies, specifically mobile phones and the Internet,… More

Sep 28, 2008

The Role of the Internet in Burma’s Saffron Revolution

This case study is part of a series produced by the Internet and Democracy project. It analyzes the role of the Internet and technology in the 2007 civic crises of Burma’s Saffron… More

Apr 5, 2008

Mapping Iran’s Online Public: Politics and Culture in the Persian Blogosphere

(English and Persian translation)

This case study is part of a series produced by the Internet and Democracy project. It analyzes the composition of the Iranian blogosphere and its possible impact on political and… More

Mar 8, 2008

Berkman Buzz: Week of March 3, 2008

A look at the past week's online Berkman conversations. More

Feb 7, 2008 @ 10:05 PM

Digitally-Empowered Activists: Getting the Tools to the People Who Need Them

Hosted by the Internet & Democracy Project

The Berkman Center's Internet & Democracy Projected hosted an event on "Digitally-Empowered Activists: Getting the Tools to the People Who Need Them," in Istanbul, Turkey. More

Dec 18, 2007 @ 12:30 PM

Internet & Democracy

Victoria Stodden, Harvard Law School

Victoria Stodden By discussing the potentials and pitfalls of the internet in a democratic society, Victoria Stodden examined "Internet & Democracy." More

Dec 1, 2007

The Citizen Journalism Web Site 'OhmyNews' and the 2002 South Korean Presidential Election

This paper is one of the first in a series of case studies that examines the impact of the Internet and technology on democracy. This specific case investigates the influence of… More

Dec 1, 2007

The Role of Digital Networked Technologies in the Ukrainian Orange Revolution

This working paper is part of a series examining how the Internet influences democracy. This report is a narrative case study that examines the role of the Internet and mobile… More

People 09


Related Projects & Tools 01

Impact of the Internet on Russian Politics, Media, and Society

With funding from the MacArthur Foundation, the Berkman Center is undertaking a two-year research project to investigate the role of the Internet in Russian society. More