Digital Democracy: Beyond the Binary

Explore the intersections of digital and direct democracy with speakers from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, Stanford Law School, Wikimedia Foundation, and the University of Zurich.

Crowd at Knebworth House by Sérgio Valle Duarte,  CC-BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111 United States


October 23, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)



In the era of blockchain and digital platforms, what can we learn from the Swiss model of direct democracy? We examine the challenges and opportunities of technology and democracy in three ways: how citizens interact with the state, new models for political participation, and the fragmentation of the public sphere.

Join our international panel of experts to discuss the implications of technological change for democracy, part of the Zürich Meets San Francisco festival and the swissnex Salon, and in partnership with the University of Zurich.


6:30 pm — doors open
7:00 pm — panel discussion
8:00 pm — networking
9:30 pm — doors close


Fabrizio Gilardi
Fabrizio Gilardi

Fabrizio Gilardi is professor of policy analysis in the Department of Political Science of the University of Zurich, Switzerland and a co-founder of the Digital Democracy Lab, which supports computational social science research on the implications of digital technology for democracy.
Jan Gerlach
Jan Gerlach

Jan Gerlach is a Senior Public Policy Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, where he advocates for laws that promote openness and free knowledge. Jan is a Member of the Advisory Board of the Nordic Centre for Internet & Society at BI Business School in Oslo, Norway and a Fellow at the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St.Gallen. Jan has previously worked as the Executive Manager of the Research Center for Information Law and spent time as a Visiting Researcher at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and at the Berkeley Law School. His research, focused on the relationship between public discourses and Internet regulation, has been supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Megan Price

As the Executive Director of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, Megan Price designs strategies and methods for statistical analysis of human rights data for projects in a variety of locations including Guatemala, Colombia, and Syria. Her work in Guatemala includes serving as the lead statistician on a project in which she analyzes documents from the National Police Archive; she has also contributed analyses submitted as evidence in two court cases in Guatemala. Her work in Syria includes serving as the lead statistician and author on three reports, commissioned by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), on documented deaths in that country. Megan is a member of the Technical Advisory Board for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, on the Board of Directors for Tor, and a Research Fellow at the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Human Rights Science. She is the Human Rights Editor for the Statistical Journal of the International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS) and on the editorial board of Significance Magazine. She earned her doctorate in biostatistics and a Certificate in Human Rights from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She also holds a master of science degree and bachelor of science degree in Statistics from Case Western Reserve University. From 2013 through 2015, Megan was the Director of Research at HRDAG; on December 1, 2015, she became Executive Director.
Nate Persily

Nate Persily is the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, with appointments in the departments of Political Science, Communication, and FSI. Professor Persily’s scholarship, which is routinely cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, focuses on voting rights, political parties, campaign finance, redistricting, and election administration. He has served as a special master or court-appointed expert to craft legislative districting plans for numerous states and as the Senior Research Director for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. He is coauthor of the leading election law casebook, The Law of Democracy (2016). His current work, for which he has been honored as an Andrew Carnegie and CASBS Fellow, examines the impact of changing technology on political communication, campaigns, and election administration. He is co-director of the Stanford Project on Democracy and the Internet and co-chair of Social Science One, an initiative to facilitate greater sharing of privacy-protected Facebook data to social scientists. He received a B.A./M.A. in political science from Yale; J.D. from Stanford where he was President of the Stanford Law Review, and a Ph.D. in political science from U.C. Berkeley.

Additional Speakers and Program TBA.

swissnex Salon

The swissnex Salon is a new model for dialogue on how the future of our society is shaped: a platform that includes multiple perspectives and provides a critical lens on possible emergent futures. Taking inspiration from the values articulated within the Preamble of the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation, we examine the role of technology in shaping, distorting, and expanding societal foundations.

Photo: Crowd at Knebworth House by Sérgio Valle DuarteCC-BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.