The perennial debate over the future of democracy reaches new heights with the proliferation and penetration of information technologies in all facets of human life. Humanity has arrived at a moment of immense democratic and entrepreneurial opportunities made possible by information technology. However, these opportunities at the same time pose potential threats if not timely debated and planned for. Democracy, that includes concepts of citizenship, human rights, free speech, voting, election, constitutions, economic and political freedom, self-determination, balance of power and position of public office, is conceptualised in this chapter as the vessel that holds hope for a better life.

The chapter 1 examines current problems of representative democracy and the impact of information technologies on current and future quality of democratic life. Four generic models of 'electronic democracy', made possible by interactive information technologies, are analysed in terms of their applicability and impact. These are 'Electronic Bureaucracy', 'Information Management', 'Populist' and 'Civil Society' models. Information technology's impact on the roles, responsibilities and accountability of citizens, elected representatives, media and corporations is examined. In order to take current and future hopes for a better life into the 21st century, the chapter proposes strategies for ways forward or the reinvention of the democratic vessel, including community values, accommodating debate, and providing access for citizen participation in policy analysis.