Interactive television is a form of electronic democracy where television acts as a conduit for information on an issue and as a prompt for public opinion on an issue. Public opinion is usually received via telephone calls or email/websites that record information. In some cases, the call acts as a vote on a particular issue.
This technology has the potential to electronically connect the public with important public institutions faster, and in far less regulated ways than is customary. This technology will enable people to vote on almost everything on their television and will, with computer-like keyboards, enable e-discussions to occur on almost any topic. As people become routinely able to 'vote' and 'speak' on almost all issues via the extended TV handset in their living room this interactivity could enable people to create local sites of 'deliberative democracy', to generate 'town meetings of the air' (Lancaster University Dept Sociology, http://www.lancs.ac.uk/users/csec/study/itv-lc-ed.html). As Steve Morrison, the Chief Executive of Granada television in the UK, wrote recently: 'television reaches parts of society other technologies don't reach. As integrated digital television sets develop, you'll be able to access the internet. Television is easy and unintimidating' (The Guardian, Nov 27, 1999). He specifically argues that digital TV may enable a new stage of citizenship to develop, 'closing the gap between the information-rich and the information-poor and to create a genuinely inclusive society of Digital Citizen'.
This page originally copied with permission from the Citizens Science Toolbox