Tag: democracy

Will electronic voting machines cause digital exclusion?

The following essay was written as part of my Master’s degree at King’s College, London. 

30 January 2013 Danish Minister for Economic and Interior Affairs, Margrethe Vestager introduced a bill permitting electronic elections in Denmark (Vestager, 2013a). The bill was rejected by parliament 13 March, to much surprise for the government (Kildebogaard, 2013a) (Bredsdorff, 2013), some prominent politicians,  even mocking both IT experts and opposition using the hashtag #jordenerflad (the earth is flat), calling them technophobes, who live in the future.

What I found striking following the debate and reading the hearing statements was how technology was the main focus, government arguing how technology would help people with disabilities, while opponents mainly focused on, the lack of, IT security and stability.

The debate on who might risk being or feeling excluded by electronic elections and how this might effect democracy, was limited, nearly absent.
In this essay I will discuss the bill, hearing statements and the public debate (1) prior to the vote in relation to theories of digital exclusion and inclusion. I will use these theories to detect strength and weaknesses in the debate, discussing whether the bill should have been passed or was rightfully defeated.
As there is limited research on digital inclusion and exclusion in Danish conditions, I have chosen to use British and Dutch studies, though the results might differ if the same studies where done in Denmark. Especially because elections changes from country to country, depending on culture, electoral systems etc. (Vestager, 2013b, p.32). Keeping this in mind, I will discuss the bill on the theory that the main features would be the same under Danish circumstances.

What the bill encompasses

Following a short summary of the bill bringing out the main points relevant for this essay. The bill (Vestager, 2013a) would introduce digital voting machines (touch screens or the like), replacing pen and paper in the polling booth; voters would still have to show up physically to cast their vote. In an introduction period (not further defined), a receipt would be printed, accompanying the digital vote, making sure voters would be able to double check their ballot papers and in case of suspicion of fraud or errors in the system, these printed ballot could be counted. The bill accentuates an aim to maintain the same level of anonymity in the voting process, as known from analogue procedures, and security as a main focus in an upcoming bidding round, when searching for the right suppliers of the digital voting system. The bill does not supply information of expected expenses and only vaguely describes the need for further education for election officials. Both the bill and the introduction of the bill by the minister underlines how electronic voting will help voters with physical disabilities to vote independently (no further details of how many voters this will affect), as well as minimisation of invalid ballots (0,32% in the general election in 2011 (Vestager, 2013b, p.8)).

The bill would allow voting machines in general-, municipal-, regional- and European Parliament elections, making it an option from the municipal election in November 2013, but optional for the time being (not further defined).

Digital inclusion and exclusion

In the following I will discuss whether the bill, hearing statements and debate sufficiently covered potential exclusion of certain social groups in society and the potential risks this might constitute for the democratic system.

Examining the list of organizations and authorities the ministry called on for hearing statements (Vestager, 2013b) or who, by themselves, chose to submit statements, I find it worth noticing, how the majority represents technological expert knowledge, some represent the elderly, some knowledge of legislation and some physical disabled. Only two organizations, to some degree, represent people with different ethnic origin than Danish: The Danish Institute for Human rights and The Council for Ethnic Minorities (who did not submit a statement). None of the organizations called on mainly represents unemployed, low educated, receivers of social security etc.
According to Van Dijk and Hacker (Van Dijk and Hacker, 2000, p.1) public policy is often pre-occupied with material access, which is reflected in both hearing statements and the composition of the organizations and authorities mentioned above. The same tendency has been noticeable in the surrounding debate mainly concerning security, fraud, cracking and how this might lead to lack of trust in the democratic system (Bredsdorff, 2013) (Vestager, 2013b) (Kildebogaard, 2013b) (Kjærulff, 2013). Considering the scope of this essay I will not go into further detail with the concerns of security and privacy, barely point out that this has been the main discussion.

What is important in relation to this essay is, how a main focus on the technological aspects of the challenges concerning digital development in society risk leading to biased conclusions, according to Van Dijk and Hacker, as barriers causing digital exclusion are diverse and complicated (Van Dijk and Hacker, 2000, p.2).
To help nuancing the discussion of digital divides Van Dijk and Hacker have defined four barriers worth considering, when discussing inequality in relation to use of digital technology (Van Dijk and Hacker, 2000, p.1):

  1. Lack of experience, causing psychological/mental barriers.
  2. Lack of material access.
  3. Skills access.
  4. Lack of usage opportunities.

As the material is provided in the poling booth, the main focus must be, whether voters are used to using digital technology in their everyday life, having experience, material access, skills and usage opportunities, as voters unaccustomed to technology might avoid participating in the elections. The four barriers are often “(…) neglected or viewed as a temporary phenomenon only touching old people, some categories of housewives, illiterates, and unemployed. The problem of inadequate digital skills is reduced to the skills of operation, managing hardware and software” (Van Dijk and Hacker, 2000, p.2). This seems to be reflected in the hearing statements, as the elderly is represented, but other (digitally) vulnerable social groups lack representation and the bill only scanty meets this as an economic concern by stating: “minor readjustment charges concerning voters, who is not accustomed to IT” (Vestager, 2013a, p.13).

The lack of discussion concerning the mental barriers could indicate a general misunderstanding raised by Van Dijk and Hacker (Van Dijk and Hacker, 2000, p.10) that digital exclusion will disappear the more we as a society get used to using computer, internet and other digital appliances. Where as research shows the gap between experienced users and inexperienced users follows an s curve and stays the same, causing a risk of inexperienced user always feeling left behind maintaining the mental barrier, though they gain experience, and those having a technological advantage will not lean back and stop learning, where as the knowledge and “lack of comfort” gap remains (Norris, 2001, p.31) (Helsper, 2013, p.8) (Van Dijk and Hacker, 2000, p.16). Though some voters with high education and material wealth might have chosen not to use technology, the important group in relation to this essay is those lacking knowledge because of low education, unemployment or because they are socially marginalization in society (Helsper, 2013, p.17) as they would be the once affected by the four barriers as mentioned in the above.

As the bill aims to secure high voter turnouts in the future, underlining how this is important in the democratic system, it does not mention the importance of voter turnouts being equally distributed among electorates, though democracy will lack legitimacy, if certain groups in society abstain from voting (Elklit et al., 2004, p.74).

Who are the voters?

The intention of the bill was to introduce electronic voting at the municipal elections in November 2013.  Research shows that the Danish municipal elections usually have a 70 percent turnout (Elklit et al., 2004, p.75), where as voters who are unmarried, on social security or incapacity benefits and living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods have a turnout below 30 percent in the capitol, Copenhagen (Elklit et al., 2004, p.76). Data also shows how ethnic minorities are more likely to vote the more integrated they are in the Danish society, with the result, that less integrated social groups lack representation in the democracy (Elklit et al., 2004, p.76).

Looking at the bill, hearing statements and the debate no one plead their cause, recognising the possible under-representation – neither those in favour of the bill nor those opposed to it.
As there is a convergence between those lacking digital experience and those not voting in the municipal elections, it might influence the elections leading people of limited means etc. less representation in the democracy, causing it to a lack legitimacy.

Contradicting the public nature of elections

Ellen Helsper argues the importance of keeping in mind  “(How) Can we prevent the replication of existing patterns of social exclusion in the use of digital media?” (Helsper, 2013, p.3) As discussed in the above electronic voting might magnify the patterns of exclusion, though there are advantages for psychically disabled, according to both bill and interest groups (Vestager, 2013b, p.6) (Vestager, 2013a, p.6), there is a lack of facts showing how many might benefit, and no debate at all on who might be excluded, by alienating them either in the polling booth or reinforcing the barriers causing socially excluded groups not to show up at all.

The digital technologies suggested in the bill might seem like a minor change to the voting procedure, as it is aims to maintain well-known procedures only replacing pen and paper with touchscreens or the like. Nevertheless the minister introducing the bill, Margrethe Vestager, added in an interview, that a consequence of electronic voting would be limiting election officials, in the long run, emphasising it as a small sacrifice for the advantages (Lange, 2013), the statement confirming concerns from the opposition (Kjærulff, 2013).
Though it is difficult to compare elections across borders, as mentioned in the introduction, similar changes to voting procedures have cost, substantial protest in other countries, e.g. Ireland, The Netherlands and Germany. In 2009 the German protests led to a court ruling in the Federal Constitutional Court prohibiting the use of voting machines arguing “that the use of the electronic machines contradicts the public nature of elections” (European Digital Rights, 2009), causing voting procedures to return to pen and paper, despite voting machines being in use for 10 years without evidence of errors or fraud. In both Ireland and Germany the main arguments have been, procedures seeming opaque, drawing the conclusion, if there was the least risk of alienating marginalized social groups in the democratic system or causing mistrust in the democratic process, it would not be worth the potential advantages (Vestager, 2013b) (Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, 2009).

Electronic elections in the future

Margrethe Vestager, the minister responsible for the bill, predicts there will be experiments with electronic voting machines in near future, despite the vote down (Kildebogaard, 2013c).

In these trails, it will be important to research, not only usability easing physically use of the machines, but also if the digital changes risk turning voters into non-voters, and whether this will affect the democratic composition of the turnout in general. The non-existing debate concerning this area, seem to indicate a lack of knowledge and facts. As described the debate has been pre-occupied with technology, neglecting the possible alienation and lack of transparency causing Germany and Ireland to return to pen and paper.

As described in the introduction, the changes in voting procedures, according to the bill, would have been relatively small, one of the main features being a printed receipt, making recounting votes possible, and thereby supporting a notion of transparency. But still, when prominent politicians, e.g. Minister for research, innovation and higher education, Morten Østergaard, taunts the opposition calling them technophobes (Østergaard, 2013), and Trine Bramsen, IT spokes person for the social democrats argues, that Denmark need voting machines, because “we are a digital nation” (Kjærulff, 2013), combined with the bill and the hearing statements, it seems to indicate a lopsided discussion preoccupied with technological progress, neglecting those risking digital exclusion.


Bredsdorff, M. (2013) Leder: Tåbeligt at overhøre it-specialisternes advarsler mod elektroniske valg [online]. Available from: http://ing.dk/artikel/leder-taabeligt-overhoere-it-specialisternes-advarsler-mod-elektroniske-valg-157106 (Accessed 10 April 2013).

Van Dijk, J. & Hacker, K. (2000) ‘The digital divide as a complex and dynamic phenomenon‘, in 1 June 2000 Paper presented at the 50th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, Acapulco, 1-5 June 2000.

Elklit, J. et al. (2004) Hvem stemmer – og hvem stemmer ikke? (who is voting – and who isn’t?). Aarhus University Press. [online]. Available from: http://www.unipress.dk/media/2909707/87-7934-843-2_hvem_stemmer.pdf.

European Digital Rights (2009) No E-Voting In Germany. 11 March. [online]. Available from: http://www.edri.org/edri-gram/number7.5/no-evoting-germany (Accessed 11 April 2013).

Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (2009) Use of voting computers in 2005 Bundestag election unconstitutional – press release. [online]. Available from: http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/pressemitteilungen/bvg09-019en.html (Accessed 9 April 2013). [online].

Helsper, E. (2013) Digital Inclusion and Exclusion, presentation at King’s College 18 March 2013.

Kildebogaard, J. (2013a) Analyse: Hvad kan vi lære af e-valgsdebatten? [online]. Available from: http://www.version2.dk/artikel/analyse-hvad-kan-vi-laere-af-e-valgsdebatten-51285 (Accessed 8 April 2013).

Kildebogaard, J. (2013b) Danmarks førende e-valgsforsker: Forkast lovforslag om e-valg (Denmarks leading elections reserach scientist: reject the e-election bill) [online]. Available from: http://www.version2.dk/artikel/danmarks-foerende-e-valgsforsker-forkast-lovforslag-om-e-valg-50245 (Accessed 8 April 2013).

Kildebogaard, J. (2013c) Vestager efter e-valgs-nederlag: ’Jeg er dybt forundret’ [online]. Available from: http://www.version2.dk/artikel/vestager-efter-e-valgs-nederlag-jeg-er-dybt-forundret-51217 (Accessed 11 April 2013).

Kjærulff, A. (2013) Aflyttet (eng.: Tapped). 6 February. [online]. Available from: http://arkiv.radio24syv.dk/video/7733217/aflyttet-uge-6-2013.

Lange, L. (2013) Elektroniske valg kommer trods kritik (E-elections will come despite criticism). 13 February. [online]. Available from: http://www.altinget.dk/artikel/elektroniske-valg-kommer-trods-kritik (Accessed 13 April 2013).

Norris, P. (2001) Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty, and the Internet Worldwide. Cambridge University Press.

Vestager, M. (2013a) Forslag til lov om ændring af lov om valg til Folketinget, lov om valg af danske medlemmer til Europa-Parlamentet og lov om kommunale og regionale valg (Bill altering the former bill of elections (parliament, municipal, regional and European Parliament elections introducing digital voting and counting of votes). [online]. Available from: http://www.ft.dk/samling/20121/lovforslag/L132/som_fremsat.htm#dok (Accessed 9 April 2013).  p.34. [online].

Vestager, M. (2013b) Hearing statements including repliesDanish Minister for Economic and Interior Affairs, Margrethe Vestager (final) Høringsnotat – 240113 – endelig [DOK51072]. [online]. Available from: http://www.ft.dk/samling/20121/lovforslag/l132/bilag/1/1209860.pdf [online].

Østergaard, M. (2013) Tweet from Minister for Research, Innovation and Higher Education in Denmark mocking the oppostition using the hashtag #jordenerflad (the earth is flat). [online]. Available from: https://twitter.com/oestergaard/statuses/314746267009949697. [online].

(1) I have read through all online articles on the subject from the Danish newspaper with the largest circulation www.politiken.dk, www.version2.dk a dominant news site for it professionals and engineers and relevant radio programmes from Radio 24syv, one of two public service media stations in Denmark.

Crowdsourcing the constitution to unify Iceland

As part of my master’s degree in Digital Culture and Society I wrote an essay in January about “how the use of media technologies can help strengthen the feeling of community of the Icelandic People in the process of crowdsourcing their constitution”.

Though I don’t believe the (flawless) solution to modern democratic governing is involving the public in every process, in my opinion the risk of peer pressure is overwhelming, I do admire how well thought through and thorough the Icelandic crowdsourcing project was.

Therefor I was sad to read how the Icelandic government this week overturned the publics desire for change and thereby risk to damage the public believe in democracy for many decades to come.

If you want to read more, you can find my essay here: Crowdsourcing the constitution to unify Iceland

A bit of background

Post the financial collapse in 2008 the Icelandic people went to the streets banging on pots and pans demanding government to step down and a new constitution to be written, securing transparency in both government and the financial system, declaring non-privately owned national resources as national property as well as modernising the voting system.

As a result the government willingly stepped down and subsequently, to re-establish trust in the democratic system post the collapse, they chose to crowdsource the new constitution.

Much have been written about the process, most significantly the reports written by Professor of Economics Thorvaldur Gylfason available here:

Constitutions: Financial Crisis Can Lead to Change 
From Collapse to Constitution: The Case of Iceland 

Following the Icelandic people backed the proposal (66% voted for the new constitution, turnout was 49% of Iceland’s 235,000 eligible voters).  But apparently this didn’t proof anything for parliament, as they this Wednesday decided to postpone the decision of a new constitution and complicate the process of the decision further by raising the number of votes needed to confirm it by referendum.

God IT-politik er lig med godt demokrati

Bragt i Politiken den 18. oktober 2011

En god it-politik kræver indsigt, flair og digital forståelse, men har vores nye regering det?

I sidste uge skrev netmediet CNET om et computerprogram fra det amerikanske ministerium for Homeland Security, der er designet til ved hjælp af algoritmer at analysere en brugers data og forudsige om vedkommende kan tænkes at ville begå ulovligheder. Et såkaldt precrime system.

I samme uge kom det frem, at den amerikanske regering havde anmodet Google om at udlevere gmail-data fra en af de frivillige fra organisationen Wikileaks – uden at orientere brugeren og uden dommerkendelse. I følge Googles egen transparency rapport har de i anden halvdel af 2010 modtaget 4601 anmodninger om udlevering brugerdata fra den amerikanske regering enten med eller uden kendelse – i 94% af tilfældene, har de fået dataen – så det var langt fra et enkelt tilfælde.

Forhåbentlig kommer vi ikke til at se den slags ske i Danmark, men vi lever i et internationalt samfund med gmail-adresser, Facebook-konti, Dropboxes og så videre – én ting er, at vi ikke kan stole på virksomhederne, der har kommercielle interesser, men hvis vi heller ikke kan stole på, at vores regeringerne overholder for eksempel persondatalovgivningen, så er vores demokratiske samfund ekstremt kompromitteret.

De fleste kan blive enige om, at Iran og Kina er forkert på den, når de udfordrer ytringsfriheden ved at blokere adgangen til nyhedssider, som for eksempel BBC. Men hvad med Storbritannien? Premierminister David Cameron talte i august om, hvorvidt det var nødvendigt at blokere det sociale netværk Twitter for at få styr på de unge oprørske briter. Set i lyset af, at det knapt er et år siden, at både medier og politikere lovpriste det arabiske forår, der i høj grad brugte sociale medier, er det beskæmmende, at en sådan tanke kan opstå hos Cameron.

Også i Tyskland har der været røre om et program udviklet af regeringen, der kan skjules på en brugers computer og registrere alt, hvad denne foretager sig, hvilket i nutidens digitalsamfund ikke er meget mere odiøst end telefonaflytning. Problemet med programmet er, at det langt fra lever op til den krævede datasikkerhed og dermed i høj grad kan misbruges af kriminelle.

Under den danske valgkamp bebudede Venstre et Moderniseringsministerium. Formålet med ministeriet var at “bruge digitalisering og ny teknologi til at lave en mere effektiv offentlig sektor”. Hvis det var det eneste formål, så forstår jeg godt at den valgte regering undlod at oprette det. I stedet fordelte man it- og digital-politikken på de områder, hvor den bland andet skal fungere – nemlig de fire ministerier: Finansministeriet, Forsvarsministeriet, Erhvervs- og vækstministeriet og Økonomi- og Indenrigsministeriet. Intensionen er god, men jeg frygter, at den digitale fornyelse og bevidsthed drukner, når den splittes op.

It-politik kræver ikke blot gode rådgivere, det kræver reel interesse, det kræver vilje til at kunne nuancere et begreb som for eksempel hackere. Det kræver viden til ikke at lade sig skræmme til hovedløs ”terrorbekæmpelse”, selvom registrering af brugere sker med det gode som formål, og at man sikkert ikke bør frygte noget, som almindelig lovlydig borger, så bliver jeg bekymret, når jeg oplever de tiltag den amerikanske, tyske og britiske regering gør.

Derfor en appel til ministrene Bjarne Corydon, Nick Hækkerup, Ole Sohn og Margrethe Vestager, om ikke at tage let på området – ikke blot for borgernes retssikkerheds skyld, men for ytringsfriheden, og for det demokrati vores samfund bygger på.

Opdateret – 19. okt. 2011 kl. 20.10:
EPN: Thorning: Derfor opløste jeg it-styrelsen
Computerworld: Eksperter: Her er faldgruberne ved nyt cyber-forsvar

Vild med politik?

Bragt i Politiken 23. august 2011

De næste uger løber Danmarks dyreste reality-show af stabelen: Valget 2011 – de store tabere? Vælgerne.

Den næste tid vil være fyldt med tusindvis af gentagelser og uendelige analyser. Journalister vil vælte over hinanden for at stille spørgsmål a la ”hvad føler du?” og politikkerne vil lire forudsigelige svar af sig, der hverken gør fra eller til – eller indeholder nærvær og følelse.

Én ting, er de platforme, der er styret af redaktører: tv, aviser og radio – men også de sociale medier er præget af klichéfyldte opdateringer af typen ”I dag besøgte jeg en børnehave, der er alt for få pædagoger til alt for mange børn”, eller af overfladiske angreb på den modsatte fløj.

I og med, det ser ud til at valget i mindre og mindre grad bliver afgjort på reel politik – men nærmere på velskårne tungebånd, udstråling og sympati, så kunne de sociale medier for alvor komme til deres ret – spørgsmålet er blot om politikkerne tør vove sig derud.

Folketingspolitikeren Özlem Sara Cekic, SF, skrev søndag aften på Facebook:

“Det er lidt stressende med Facebook opdateringer hver dag, der skal være relevante, sjove, kantede, personlige osv osv. Kan mærke jeg er løbet tør for opdateringer :-) Hvad har man som ven lyst til at læse om eller vil være foruden?”

Hendes Facebook-venner svarede beredvilligt og konklusionen var: Du behøver ikke skrive opdateringer hver dag, opdater, når du faktisk har noget på hjerte eller stil enkle relevante spørgsmål, som folk kan diskutere. En journalistisk vinklet konklusion kunne være: ”vi gider ikke mere bullshit, vis os mennesket bag”.

Det er de færreste politikere, der tager kommunikationen med vælgerne i egen hånd – selvom det i dag i høj grad er muligt – man kunne have en mistanke om, at deres rådgivere ikke for alvor har forstået, hvordan de sociale platforme kan anvendes. Mange politikere bruger kun blogs, Twitter og Facebook strategisk i de få uger, hvor valget for alvor er i gang, i stedet for at tage styringen selv – også til daglig. Den sporadiske brug gør, at det i stedet kommer det til at virke som en desperat gestus.

En af de politikere, der er ved at finde den sociale platform er de radikales leder Margrethe Vestager. Selvom der i starten gik lidt rigeligt poesibog i hendes Twitter-konto, så har hun efterhånden fundet sine ben og kommunikerer i dag troværdigt, vedholdende og personligt. På trods af, at hun i nogen grad sikkert prædiker for de frelste, så er Twitter en fremragende platform til både at lytte til vælgerne og vise taknemmelighed overfor dem, der bakker op. For selvom det næppe bliver på Facebook, Twitter, blogs eller Google Plus valget bliver vundet, så er de sociale platforme et af de få steder, hvor det er muligt at give slip og have personlighed.

En bruger skrev på Twitter for et dage siden efter en længere diskussion med venstres gruppeformand:

@appoulsen (Asbjørn Poulsen): I går hørte jeg noget jeg aldrig troede, jeg skulle høre: “kom nu i seng i stedet for at sidde der og skrive med @Kristian_Jensen

Digitaliseringen har forandret adgangen til politikkerne endegyldigt, og selvom man ikke når millioner af vælgere på nettet, så når man ofte netop dem, der interesserer sig og engagerer sig og som derfor er gode ambassadører. Men kun hvis politikerne holder op med at lire ligegyldigheder og valgslogans af sig. Ellers styrker det hverken demokratiet eller interessen for politik – og så bliver vælgerne valgets reelle tabere.

Tilføjelse: Faldt over Jens Rohdes FB-profil, da den var nævnt i en artikel på dr.dk – et af de få sociale fora, hvor politikeren deltager livligt i debatten.


Fremtidens fitness er social

Bragt i Politiken den 8. marts 2011

De sociale medier har for længst bevæget sig fra computerskærmen og ud i virkeligheden – men hvornår mon fitnesscentrene opdager det?

Forestil dig fremtidens fitnesscenter – musikken dunker. Pulsen stiger. Dagens første spinningtime er i gang:

Jeg hamrer pedalerne i bund – træd, træd, træd – sveden pibler, blænder mig – min puls rammer 194. Træd, træd, træd. Pludselig dukker en besked op på spinning-cyklens display – ”Peter vil konkurrere mod dig via Facebook – vil du give Peter adgang til din træning?” – jeg trykker ja, mister kortvarigt koncentrationen, da hans puls dukker op som en kurve på displayet, men da jeg kan se, at han indhenter mig, træder jeg hårdere i pedalerne. Min puls stiger et par slag til. Træd, træd, træd.

Desværre er fremtidens fitnesscenter langt fra nutidens.

De fleste sportsudøvere – fra motionister til topatleter – fokuserer benhårdt på at forbedre deres tider, få større muskler eller bedre kondition. Vi vil af med dellerne og den dårlige form. Vi vil motiveres – gerne via konkurrence – enten mod os selv eller endnu bedre mod de andre.

Det findes, der masser af gadgets, der understøtter: Mobil-applicationer og hjemmesider, der gør det muligt at holde styr på løbetider og cykelruter – Endomondo, C25K, 321Run – eller for den sags skyld garmins-pulsure og Nike+ løbe-chip til at lægge i skoen.

Også spilproducenterne har for længst fået øjnene op for markedet for motions-spil – vi hopper og danser til både Wii og Kinect.

Til gengæld virker udviklingen til at  være gået fuldstændig hen over hovedet på fitness-centrene, hvor man er strandet i et scenarie af gammeldags jernvægte og sjippetov, der ikke har forandret sig stort de seneste 40 år.

Selvom en hver fitnesskæde med respekt for sig selv har et online bookingsystem , hvor man via sin telefon eller computer kan booke træningstider og lægge dem ind i ens kalender, så er det dét.

Hvorfor ikke gøre træningen social?

Et skridt på vejen kunne være, at brugerne fik adgang til at se, hvornår deres venner træner. Det kunne løses med en simpel Facebook-connect-funktion. At dømme på alle de piger, der kommer til træning to og to ville dét forbedre deres brugeroplevelse væsentligt.

Eller endnu bedre at åbne op for frivillig registrering af  ens træning, så man kan bruge forbedring af kondital og fedtprocent som motivation fremover – eventuelt målt mod de andre brugeres.

Men hvorfor ikke gå fremtiden helhjertet i møde og give brugerne mulighed for at konkurrere live imod hinanden? Gaming-verdenen har kendt til netværksspil i mange år. Drenge og piger i mørke kældre, der kæmper med og mod hinanden via deres computer fra placeringer rundt omkring i verden. Teknologien er for længst opfundet – hvornår opdager fitness-kæderne at gaming ikke blot er leg?

For de fleste er resultater, fællesskab og konkurrence de primære grunde til at dyrke motion – hvis det lokale fitnesscenter formåede at understøtte det digitalt, ville de uden tvivl få mere engagerede brugere – og tjene flere penge.

Men i dag er det desværre langt fra muligt at konkurrere mod ”min ven Peter”, når jeg sidder på spinningcyklen, – faktisk, er jeg nødt til selv at medbringe et pulsur, hvis jeg vil registrere min træning. Men mon ikke, sport 2.0 kommer til fitnesscentrene indenfor få år? Og når det gør, så lover jeg Peter, at jeg giver ham baghjul på spinningcyklen.