The Net and the Future of Politics : Hate and peace in a connected world

I combined the titles from the two articles because the relationship between them was interesting.

Michael Hauben wrote his article around 1995 before the World Wide Web really started to take off. Focus of the paper is on Usenet or newsgroups as a way for everyone to receive access or have a voice on the internet. He calls investment (government money in this case) in the internet a strong force towards making direct democracy a reality. He then has quotes from many participants of the NTIA Virtual Conference where many topics were discussed. In the interest of time and space I’m going to over simplify. It boiled down to a government funded and controlled internet versus a commercial funded and controlled internet and how to control a digital divide in society. Thus, empowering every individual a voice in the democratic government.

Well, we know that the internet went commercial and can debate the good vs evil outcome until the cows come home. What is interesting to me is the next article comparing MoveOn.com with Stormfront.com and how they expand participation in context to the ideals expressed by the participants of the virtual conference.

MoveOn.com tries to bring people together for a common goal related to politics of the US. It started in earnest with 9-11 and the build-up to war with Iraq. It was also involved in the presidential campaign of 2004 in bring people together at a grass roots level. Stormfront, in contrast, is a site that promotes a white supremacist ideology. The existence of these 2 sites, one promoting political involvement, and the other promoting hate, demonstrates how the internet is still an open forum where people can express their ideas, opinions, and in the case of Stormfront, offend many. The digital divide still exists, is it wider or smaller as a result of commercial interests? I can’t answer that, but the internet is still an open and free exchange of ideals where in a democratic society a voice can be heard.

Craig Maedgen, Group 2

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Comments

  • Heather  On 15 November 2005 at 5:13 pm

    Sure the web is a public forum where voices can be heard, but I wonder to what level they are heard. We have talked about how personalized the web is. Whether you are into hate or promoting political involvment it seems that only people interested in the same things posted on any particular website would be the ones hearing. So, I’m not sure how effective the internet is as a public forum of opinions.

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