This page is a brief overview of sources on the web that are useful for those interested in an informed and participating electorate. It is not meant to be complete but rather is a small collection of useful starting points on the web for those who want to become more informed about citizen participation in democracy.

This page has been become almost completely out of date and is kept as a mere reminder of how far the web has advanced in the past 4 years. It has more historical than practical interest. For a few more up to date links, visit Civic Participation --99 for an update to this page.

This page is meant to help those interested in exploring the ways that the web can increase citizen participation by increasing public access to information using projects such as that of the League of Women Voters or the Federation of American Scientists.. For a discussion of the way that the web can used for informing the public, see the Cyberstrategy[tm] discussion by John Pike of the FAS.

Political Participation and Information

The Political Participation Project at MIT has the "mission to design networked, interactive media that improve citizens' participation in the democratic process. The Project, affiliated with the Intelligent Information Infrastructure Project at MIT, is non-profit and non-partisan. We believe that networked interactive media such as the Internet can revolutionize the nature of political participation in democracies. Our goal is to improve political participation of all kinds, with a particular emphasis on traditional modes of participation over electronic participation."

"We have designed this Web site to be useful to you. We suggest that you add The Online Political Information Network to your bookmark list as a "one-stop shop" for political information on the Internet."

The Electronic Democracy Forum was "started by a group of people concerned with the lack of information available and the lack of debate regarding recent congressional efforts. We do not feel that the Republican path is the one to follow. . . . It is important for people to be informed and have input into the political process. Thanks to the Internet, anyone, anywhere, at any time can access the original documents, bills, passed legislation, and commentary to form their own opinions about many of the issues being debated in Congress right now. It includes Critique, Polls and Text of The Contract With America "

A Meta-index of non profit organizations is to non-profit organizations what "Yahoo" is to the broader net community. Another index of non profits is the Progressive Directory .

For observations about the use of the net in a democracy see The Network Observer (TNO) which is a free on-line newsletter about networks and democracy edited by Phil Agre of the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. Volume 1 (1994) was published on a monthly basis; future volumes will be published irregularly. He has also written up a set of Frequently Asked Questions about The Network Observer. .

Governmental Innovation in Providing Public Information Services is a paper that "overviews ways that public services can be made available using telecommunications technology. Second, evidence is provided that shows that both federal and local government increasingly choose to use the World Wide web as a way to provide public services. A few examples of community networks are presented. The conclusion is that there is significant ongoing activity in making public services available using advanced communications technology, and further that computer networks seem to be a viable medium for making governmental public information services on-line.

Global Security and Arms Control

"The Federation of American Scientists conducts analysis and advocacy on science, technology and public policy, including nuclear weapons, arms sales, biological hazards, secrecy, and space policy. FAS is a privately-funded non-profit policy organization whose Board of Sponsors includes half of America's living Nobel Laureates.

FAS was founded as the Federation of Atomic Scientists in 1945 by members of the Manhattan Project who produced the first atomic bomb, to address the implications and dangers of the nuclear age. FAS is the oldest organization dedicated to ending the arms race and avoiding the use of nuclear weapons, and much of its work has been in nuclear arms control and disarmament. In addition, throughout its history FAS publications and projects have addressed a wide range of science and society issues, including those of population, energy, agriculture, medical care, and ethnic conflict (in countries such as Cambodia, Peru and Yugoslavia.)"

Non partisan citizen participation

The League of Women Voters has begun to develop a full home page and provides some information electronically. The LWVUS webpage provides addresses for those state and local leagues on line. See also the LWV of Illinois page.

Environmental Issues

An excellent example of how to use the web to appeal to members and non-members to take action about the environment is that of the National Resources Defense Council. This is a well organized set of pages describing their current environmental concerns. "The Natural Resource Defense Council's purpose is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants andanimals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We work to restore the integrity of the elements that sustain life --air, land, and water -- and to defend endangered natural places. We seek to establish sustainability and good stewardship of the Earth as central ethical imperatives of human society. NRDC affirms the integral place of human beings in the environment. "

The provide reviews and links to some of the major environmental resources on the web: "Looking for information on specific environmental issues? The sites on this page range from the useful to the outstanding. air and atmosphere | cities | energy | flora | global warming | greener living | health | light pollution | nuclear weapons and energy | outdoors | politics |science | transportation | and wildlife "

Policy Net is produced by Issue Dynamics, Inc., (IDI) which "is a Washington-based consumer and public affairs consulting firm that helps many of the nation's major telecommunications companies establish bridges with consumer groups, nonprofit organizations, schools and universities, and other organizations outside industry's ordinary audience of "stakeholders." It has jumps to the Senate, House, the U.S. Constitution, the Library of Congress and The White House.

Some more politically partisan pages may be found on Justin's Political Page or at Turn Left, an unabashedly leftist page with the occasional reference to conservative causes, as well as Jeff's Progressive Page or the National Organization of Women

The Media Watch project "is the beginning of a collection of information on media watch groups which critique the accuracy and expose the biases of the mainstream media. Contents: Media criticism, Censorship, and other lists of resources " It includes useful jumps and reference lists for jouralists and others interested in the dissemination of news.

FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting)" is the national media watch group offering well-documented criticism in an effort to correct media bias and imbalance. FAIR focusses public awareness on the narrow corporate ownership of the press, the media's allegiance to official agendas and their insensitivity to women, labor, minorities, and other public interest constituencies. FAIR seeks to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater media pluralism and the inclusion of public interest voices in national debates ."

FAIR includes an important media contact list containing phone numbers and mailing addresses for major media organizations. This list includes a cross referenced index of FAIR articles about these organizations. They also include guidelines for detecting bias in media.

International activity

For information about the Peace Corps, there is a newly developed web page by the Peace Corps. "When President John F. Kennedy delivered his inaugural address 35 years ago, he issued a call to service to Americans with the words, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." He manifested this vision by creating the Peace Corps, formed to promote world peace, mutual understanding and to offer trained men and women to countries in need. Now, 35 years later, the Peace Corps is still looking for qualified candidates for some of the most exciting Volunteer assignments in the world today.

Human-Rights Information Through Essex is a one person operation at the University of Essex devoted to human rights.

Friends of the Earth provides some environmental information.

Information about the use of the Web

For general information about the net, there are some training courses in how to use the net or to develop a webpage. See the Frequently Asked Questions and answers about setting up and maintaining a web site. See also the HTML tutorial or the HTML-Primer.

Stylistic guidelines and advice and criticism is available from the Coombs Computing Unit at Australia National Unversity. A very helpful set of comments oriented to the Macintosh user may be found at Robert Lentz's home page.

For some general and specialized indexes to the net, see MIT's growing list of colleges and universities around the world.

A very useful directory is the set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and their answers for most newsgroups. As well as the World Wide Web FAQ

For an index to the web, try the comphrensive list of sites or, the best of all, the Yahoo index to the web. See also Yanoff's Guide

For those who have dial in access to the internet, Web pages may be maintained for low cost by using the facilities of Electriciti, an internet retailer.

Other examples of the web

Finally, here are some some locations that have nothing to do with citizen participation but are nice demonstrations of what one can do with hypertext and graphics. Tour the nine planets or visit a cool web site. For an example of how a newspaper story can take advantage of hypertext, look at a New York Times article about the web that was then converted to hypertext. For an example of a local business newspaper taking advantage of the web, look at the San Diego Daily Transcript's SOURCE. Examine the Associated Press Wire or check the programs at National Public Radio. Finally, for those who prefer literature that is at least 74 years old (i.e., the copyright has expired), or the Constitution of the United States of America, look at the listings of the The Gutenberg EPress

There are several webreaders worth using. Netscape, WinWeb or MacWeb, and Mosaic are some of the most commonly used.

Comments and suggestions for additions to this page should be sent to Thank you.
William Revelle
Department of Psychology
Northwestern University
As is obvious from some of the old links, this was started in January, 1995. Last updated in February, 1997. See Civic Participation --99 for an update to this page.