Having always been closely linked to the ideal of peace, the concept of civil society has a long history as a third actor besides the state and the economy. It is a nonviolent “zone of civility” that can debate and address war and other problems. In today’s interconnected world we see the emergence of a “global civil society”, which transcends national borders and attempts to solve global challenges that established political and economic structures fail to address. This global civil society is organized like a network, just like the global communication systems that produced it are also organized like a network. However, while popular social network services such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are often said to be powerful tools for peace and democracy, they are in fact highly centralized services operated by for-profit companies. For a global civil society to truly work, both the architectural structure and the governance mechanisms of its communication channels must themselves be based on civil society principles.
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