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Brendan Halloran nails it: "The challenge has never been that those in power 'become better listeners', but that the poor and excluded organize themselves in ways that allow them to have a seat at the decision-making table. ICTs may or may not contribute to this goal."

The "quality" of the relationship between a particular technology, and an organization or a community, is the key factor in its level of empowerment. A tool developed, managed and convened by an international organization, capturing citizen voices through very specific channels, empowers that organization much more than it empowers the contributors.

A way to think about this is through a "hierarchy of hacking", hacking as "the artful alteration of technology beyond the goals of its original design or intent". Muki Hakley analysed "neogeography" through the lens of hackability and power http://povesham.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/neogeography-and-the-delusion-of-democratisation/. The take away for me is that the democratic potential of a technology is directly related to how hackability of that technology.

In other words, the answer to the questions you pose in this blog post are the same as the answers to "How hackable is OnTrack?"