in which democracy ran best on a local level. At the same time, he was a proponent of early networking efforts.

"Jefferson was concerned about canals," Jenkinson said. "He wanted to knit the country together with canals because water was the network (the Web) in Jefferson's time -- the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Erie Canal, the proposed Cumberland canal. This was going to be the Web for Jefferson."

However, in Jefferson's time, canals were replaced by the age of steam. This innovation moved from the waterways to railways, and an entirely new network was born. Railroads created new opportunities for shipping people and goods.

Then came perhaps the greatest technological leap. "The telegraph was even more astonishing than all of the rest," Jenkinson observed. "I could be in San Francisco and I could say 'earthquake' and within seconds that could be known in New York City. This was the great breakthrough. First the telegraph, then the telephone - they raised many of the same issues of access and frivolousness and trafficking and surveillance and civil liberties [as the Internet]. The history of America is the history of overcoming space with technology," he added. " Now we've reached the point -- and it was seared into the consciousness on Sept. 11, 2001 -- we've gone from Jefferson's three mile per hour world to a 186,000 mile per second world. Space doesn't exist."

That event threw the nation into crisis mode and Americans surrendered some freedoms for the sake of security. Jenkinson wants a government that educates the populace rather than one that caters to its fears.

"All technology cuts both ways. It has enormous possibilities for good and very large possibilities for chaos. It's important for government to be one of the champions of the good," Jenkinson said. "Government has to help shape the way people use these entities, and that puts responsibility on government that Jefferson wouldn't have liked." Jenkinson considers the recently passed security legislation and the move to tighten regulation of electronic communications. "I think Jefferson would say, rather than destroying the Fourth Amendment, which is really in trouble now thanks to electronic surveillance, it would be better if we educated the American people so they would be self-restraining and not require electronic surveillance." Jenkinson expressed the belief that tenets in the Bill of Rights are currently threatened.

These are the big issues for digital democracy to ponder. But, many e-government leaders firmly believe that online services and the integration of interagency systems will bring citizens closer to government. They are aware the public does not have an abundance of trust and confidence in government and are hoping effective electronic government will change that perception. Jenkinson agrees these everyday experiences make a difference but recognizes there are barriers and complications to overcome.

"Government needs to be sure the access questions are settled, that there are kiosks everywhere and that they are user friendly," he said. "And that they aren't more accessible to clean people than those that have an odor, and they're not more accessible to white people than to black, and they are not more accessible to rich people than to poor. When you empower the people, the people are not always easy to deal with. It's much easier if the people are disaffected than if they are engaged."

Nonetheless, he admits many government efforts are paying off. "Most people are law abiding citizens and they have a very high level of frustration at the few government interfaces that they experience in a year -- a voting booth, the DMV, the tax board and so on," Jenkinson observed. "If you can eliminate those frustrations, people will feel better about government. And I think this is happening. I see lots of good examples around the country of this happening, and really creating efficiencies that no one

Darby Patterson  |  Editor in Chief