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Political Aspects of CMC. May 7 th. In-Class Activity Political Aspects of the Internet. Based on what we’ve discussed in class to date, what are some potential Utopian predictions about the Internet’s impact on politics?

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In class activity political aspects of the internet
In-Class ActivityPolitical Aspects of the Internet

  • Based on what we’ve discussed in class to date, what are some potential Utopian predictions about the Internet’s impact on politics?

    • Broad definition of politics to include both organized politics (elections) and unorganized acts by individuals concerning how society is governed and structured

  • …What are some potential Dystopian predictions about the Internet’s impact on politics?

  • How has the Internet affected political behavior in your experience

  • Is the Internet inherently democratizing?


Utopian visions of the internet s impact on politics
Utopian visions of the Internet’s impact on politics

  • Internet as “Third Place” which facilitates public discussions

  • Access to information shared peer to peer, as opposed to traditional mass media filters

    • Better monitoring of government

    • Easier to share information (ie about the environment)

  • More opportunities for citizens to speak out & organize


Dystopian visions of the internet s impact on politics
Dystopian visions of the Internet’s impact on politics

  • Digital Divide: Those with access to technology will gain more political power than they already have, and those without will lose what little political power they have

  • Technology will be used to monitor behavior and stifle free exchange of ideas

  • Constant input from citizens perhaps not the best way to govern a society


Benkler on critiques of the claims that the internet has democratizing effects
Benkler on “Critiques of the Claims that the Internet has Democratizing Effects”

1. Information Overload

  • When everyone can speak, there is too much information and it become difficult to sift through them, leading to an “unmanageable din” not genuinely changing anything structural.”

  • But: Users solve problem by congregating in a small number of sites.

    • “We are seeing a newly shaped information environment, where indeed few are read by many, but clusters of moderately read sites provide platforms for vastly greater numbers of speakers than were heard in the mass-media environment” (p. 242)


  • Political communication and tools online some examples
    Political communication Democratizing Effects”and tools online: Some examples

    • MoveOn.org

      • Calls for Change

      • Censored Superbowl commercial

    • Gop.com (interactive maps, other tools)

    • Factcheck: http://www.factcheck.org


    Cyberactivism
    CyberActivism Democratizing Effects”

    • Importance of the “body” for activism: what are the possible negative implications of email petitions?

    • Culture-jamming: Using corporate power against itself through ironic humor, recontextualized meanings, marketing tools and techniques

      • the case of the Nike Sweatshop sneakers email

      • Adbusters spoof ads

    • When Do-Gooders Do Wrong: Unintended Consequences

      • Taking a political issue out of its local context via email/WWW (i.e. case of email about Nigerian woman sentenced to death by stoning)


    Jonathon peretti and nike
    Jonathon Peretti and Nike Democratizing Effects”

    • “Micromedia” (vs. mass media)

      • Audience can be pre-selected

      • Word of mouth more powerful (“Bzzz agents”)

        • Authentic messages vs PR buzz

      • Viral messages - distributed user to user (as opposed to from centralized PR machine)

        • For instance: Sportka commercial

    • Why was the Nike email so successful?


    Internet and 2004 election
    Internet and 2004 Election Democratizing Effects”


    2. Centralization of the Internet Democratizing Effects”

    • “ a high degree of attention is concentrated on a few top sites - a tiny number of sites are read by the vast majority of readers, while many sites are never visited by anyone. In this context, the Internet is replicating the mass-media model, perhaps adding a few channels, but not genuinely changing anything structural.”


    Benkler critiques cont
    Benkler, Critiques, cont. Democratizing Effects”

    3. Centrality of commercial mass media to the Fourth Estate function.

    4. Authoritarian countries can use filtering and monitoring to squelch Internet use

    5. Digital Divide


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