Purpose - Argues that the internet has an important contribution to make to the improvement of the democratic process, but that this contribution can only be effective with advocacy and support from information professionals and educators; the cultivation of eLiteracy by such information professionals and educators is vital in delivering the democratic potential of the internet. Design/methodology/approach - An opinion piece based on current and recent trends in thinking about digital citizenship, the internet and democracy. Findings - Hopeful initial visions of the impact of internet technologies on democracy have been shown to be in some ways too optimistic. Many of the most notable social impacts of the internet on our collective well-being have been harmful. The cultivation of eLiteracy as a democratic attribute of citizenship should enable us to make the most of the social beneficent potential of the networks. Research limitations/implications - Purely an expression of belief about what may prove to be the likely social and political benefits of promoting eLiteracy as an aspect of enhanced citizenship. Offers potential for exploration via more in-depth research. Practical implications - Opens up an optimistic social and political purpose to the cultivation of eLiteracy in a broad mass of citizens. Originality/value - Affirms an optimistic view of the democratic potential of the internet, but makes it clear that this potential will not emerge of its own accord. Citizens must engage intelligently with the social and political issues raised by the internet, in particular with the issue of how the new media enable the electorate to conduct dialogue with government. Information professionals have a particular civic duty to be aware of the democratic significance of their promotion of information literacy and, more specifically, of eLiteracy.
- digital communication systems
- electronic media