Make up Your Mind

Chapters 5 and 6 were perhaps the most interesting chapters that I have read in any book thus far in the course. It is no surprise due to my major and love for politics, but the concepts were very interesting.

While I was reading the chapters, I was watching the Cleveland mayoral debate between Frank Jackson and Jane Campbell. I do not vote in Cleveland, but I like to watch debates to see the way candidates answer certain questions and interact with one another. As I took a break between chapters I checked my email and found that I had an email from www.tedstrickland.com. He is my friend and Congressman who is running for Ohio governor. The email announced the creation of a blog on his site, so I immediately went to it and made a comment. After that, I went back to reading my book and then realized that I had just done what Manuel Castell discussed in his book. I had utilized technology to actively participate and engage in politics (via watching a televised debate and commenting on a blog). Castells talks about the way that technology opens the door to increased political activity and engagement and within an hour I had already done so in two different forms. My actions were proof of the increased availability of political information in today’s society.

This brings me to another point. This year and last year, I voted in the general election via absentee ballot. There were many names on the ballot that I didn’t recognize or know much about. The internet allowed me to search the candidate’s name to see their platform which I could base my vote upon. Without the internet, I would probably have asked my parents if they knew about the candidates, but I was able to find the information for myself.

There was a point made in the book that, “rather than strengthening democracy by fostering the knowledge and participation of the citizens, use of the internet tends to deepen the crisis of political legitimacy by providing a broader launching platform for the politics of scandal.” I do not agree with this statement and would like to hear some further support for this claim by the author. I do not understand how on one hand he can say that, “the internet offers extraordinary potential for the expression of citizen’s rights, and for the communication of human values” and “by broadening the sources of communication, it does contribute to democratization” and say completely the opposite on the other (quotes can be found on page 158 and 164.)

It is just very difficult for me to understand where he is coming from with these two very different statements which I feel contradict one another. Does anyone make sense of this? I wish he could explain, but maybe someone else can. Comments are appreciated.

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Posted by: Mark
Posted on: October 30, 2005 02:28 AM

Britt --

Keeping in mind that the Internet is just a tool wielded by humans, I think the author may be speaking of two different ways in which it might be, or is, used by politicians and activists.

The Internet opens up new, much faster and broader avenues of communication, but its largely unrestricted nature means that information of both useful and harmful varieties can flow across it. The aspect of quick and broad dissemination can mean that the effects of both are boosted.

Thus, the Net has potential as a tool for serious, quick, easy, broadly-founded discussion, but more frequently you get a bunch of frothing lunatics. ;-)

I've just been staying at home not getting anything done. I guess it doesn't bother me. Shrug. I haven't been up to anything. I haven't gotten much done today.

I haven't been up to much these days. Today was a loss. Nothing seems important. I've just been letting everything happen without me these days.

I haven't been up to much these days. Today was a loss. Nothing seems important. I've just been letting everything happen without me these days.

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Posted by: Sten80130
Posted on: January 5, 2007 06:10 PM

retty much nothing seems worth thinking about. My life's been completely dull , not that it matters. I've just been staying at home waiting for something to happen.

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Posted by: Sten16698
Posted on: January 6, 2007 12:17 AM

Basically nothing noteworthy happening right now, but eh. Today was a complete loss. I haven't been up to much recently. I've pretty much been doing nothing worth mentioning.

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