By Henry Jenkins, David Thorburn

Digital know-how is altering our politics. the realm broad net is already a robust effect at the public's entry to executive files, the strategies and content material of political campaigns, the habit of electorate, the efforts of activists to move their messages, and the ways that subject matters input the general public discourse. The essays accumulated right here trap the richness of present discourse approximately democracy and our on-line world. a few participants supply front-line views at the impression of rising applied sciences on politics, journalism, and civic adventure. What occurs, for instance, after we bring up entry to details or extend the world of loose speech? different members position our transferring knowing of citizenship in ancient context, suggesting that notions of cyber-democracy and on-line neighborhood needs to develop out of older types of civic existence. nonetheless others examine the worldwide circulate of data and attempt our American conceptions of cyber-democracy opposed to advancements in different components of the area. How, for instance, do new media function in Castro's Cuba, in post-apartheid South Africa, and within the context of multicultural debates at the Pacific Rim? For a few individuals, the recent applied sciences endanger our political tradition; for others, they promise civic renewal.

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Extra info for Democracy and New Media (Media in Transition)

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Discussion Information technology can stimulate discussion not only between citizens and their leaders, but among the citizens themselves. Although radio and television broadcasting has been a superb means for the dissemination of entertainment and culture, news, and sports, a broadcast is a transmission from a central source to an audience. Not only is there usually no feedback from the audience to the source, but the audience typically receives the broadcast in individual isolation. Broadcasting, as a technology, does not naturally stimulate discussion among the people who receive the broadcast.

Tendencies toward plebiscitary democracy are already evident, and technological progress will accelerate them. Citizen initiatives are another form of freedom, but the use and misuse of citizen initiatives illustrate both the advantages and dangers of plebiscites. In California (and at least Technologies of Freedom? twenty-two other states), the initiative gives people the right to place on the ballot legislation and amendments to the state’s constitution and obtain a statewide vote. The idea behind the initiative is to allow people a means of expressing their political will in the face of legislative inaction or the opposition of special interests.

The apparent limitations and failures of the initiative process suggest the dangers inherent in the new electronic technology: manipulation may be substituted for education and advertising for careful information gathering; debate and deliberation may be overridden by the adrenaline of an immediate reaction; and minority opinions and objections can be lost in the voice of the crowd. Enhancing Democracy: Six Requirements The failures of the initiative process, the problems of plebiscites, and the dangers of propaganda and demagoguery suggest the characteristics that are needed to define democratic uses of new interactive information technologies and the Internet and make them true technologies of freedom.

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