Chat Apps don’t just destabilize business models, they ruffle governments

All this chatting is taking us somewhere, right?

Ever since I stumbled on Chat Apps, and discussed it toward the end of my book, I knew that this thing curiously called Over The Top applications (or OTT), could tempt some to see us, chattering masses, as instruments of mass disruption.

I was bemused to hear that the Vietnam government is trying to reign in the OTT business.  Wassup Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung? Worried about the revenue loss of telecoms or worried that the hoi polloi will be talking on their own terms.

Governments famously refuse to engage citizens, while pretending to call their system a participatory democracy. Some have suggested that the Internet disconnects as much as it engages people from public life. I was reminded of my conversation in April with Indi Samarajiva (on ‘Machine Readable Democracy’) when I saw this discussion.

It’s a tantalizing question. Could a participatory democracy be nurtured? Or should it be left to evolve organically?  Or as Jos Zepps puts it, could we build a digitized, engaged democracy from scratch?