Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. Hindman, Matthew Scott, The myth of digital democracy / Matthew Hindman. p. cm. The Myth of Digital Democracy. Matthew Hindman . From law to public policy, democratic theory to party politics, interest in the Internet has begun from the. The Myth of Digital Democracy has 73 ratings and 11 reviews. Maru said: Mentioned in this excellent article in the NYT on the influence of the internet o.
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This post is a Dave Briggs appreciation post for two reasons — one is that I promised him I would read and blog about this book and I am a woman of my word and the other is that its thanks to him that I read it on my shiny new Kindle. I am a self-confessed gadget fiend but was hesitating about the Kindle as I am hoping Father Christmas brings me an iPad and having both seemed profligate even for the most techno lust driven individual. So — Dave — right as ever — thank you — and does anyone want a second hand Sony eReader??
In these accounts, the Internet is redistributing political influence; it is broadening the public sphere, increasing political participation, involving citizens in political activities that were previously closed to them, and challenging the monopoly of traditional elites.
This second definition of democratization presumes first and foremost that the technology will amplify the political voice of ordinary citizens. Hindman is looking to examine this underpinning belief that the internet is of necessity a democratising force in the world. He goes on to talk about the fact that this belief is also connected to an evolution of our democracy from a representative to a deliberative one.
All suggest that true participation requires citizens to engage in direct discussion with other citizens. The hope has been that the Internet would expand the public sphere, broadening both the range of ideas discussed and the number of citizens allowed to participate.
So the specific claim here is that the Internet is increasing the volume of citizens talking to each other — which is a vital democratic activity particularly if they are talking to the people they disagree with.
However the myth busting starts here with the thought that:.
The Myth of Digital Democracy by Matthew Hindman
Kent Jennings and Vicki Zeitner found that Internet use had little effect on civic engagement. Internet use increased political knowledge among citizens already interested in politics, but had the opposite effect among the previously apathetic.
However this was all a bit of a smokescreen as what Hindman really wants to pursue is not whether the internet is achieving a new form of digitak utopia but whether it is competing effectively with pre-existing media forms. In Voice and Equality, for example, Verba, Schlozman, and Brady argue that differences in political resources result in a systematic distortion in the perceived preferences of the public, and that this distortion favors traditionally privileged groups and those with conservative if.
If the Internet is itself an important political resource-a powerful tool for political organizing, fund-raising, and information gathering-placing the new medium disproportionately in the hands of advantaged groups might perpetuate or even exacerbate a conservative bias in U. Yet survey data seem to tell dominate the audience for politics online. Building on previous research and the data referenced above, this theory offers several claims. First, Googlearchy suggests that the number of links pointing to a site is the most important determinant of site visibility.
Sites with lots of inbound links should be easy to find; sites with few inlinks should require more time and more skill to discover.
All else being equal, sites with more links should receive more traffic. Demcoracy, Googlearchy indicates that niche dominance should be a general rule of online life. For every clearly defined group of Web sites, a small portion of the group should receive most of the links and most of the traffic.
Communities, subcommunities, and sub-subcommunities may differ in their levels of concentration; yet overall, online communities should display a Russian-nesting-doll structure, dominated at every level by winners-take-all patterns. Third, Googlearchy suggests that this dependence on links should make niche dominance self-perpetuating. Heavily linked sites should continue to attract more links, more eyeballs, and more resources with which to improve the site content, while sites with few links remain ignored.
In the areas this chapter examines, putting up a political Web site is usually equivalent to hosting a talk show on public access television at 3: The real issue is that once again he is embedded in the idea that the potential of the internet is its potential to challenge traditional media — he is putting an old world analysis on the new world order. And here is more of it:. Judging by traffic, this challenge does not seem to be especially strong.
News and media sites still receive thirty times as many visits as political Web sites do. That level of readership is large by the standards of traditional opinion journals, such as the Nation, the New Republic, or the National Review, all of which are minor print publications. Yet political sites remain a small niche amid the larger Web.
My fundamental objection to what he is putting forward is his narrow definition of political and the lack of inclusion of civic participation — the kind of hyperlocal activism which happens below the radar of the mainstream media in many cases but has the potential to have far greater impact on our political landscape — his is an analysis which is really describing the conditions of democratic defict — which is useful — but does not look beyond a political analysis to bring a social analysis to bear.
However its extremely useful to look at his analysis in terms of the digital divide and where new forms of activisim are rubbing up against the old elites:.
Of the top ten blogs, eight are run by people who have attended an elite institution of higher education-either an Ivy League school, or a school of similar caliber like Caltech, Stanford University, or the University of Chicago. At least three of the ten bloggers-Marshall, Reynolds, and Drum-are the children of academics. Still, there are limits to what the openness of blogging culture can accomplish.
The top bloggers may read more blogs than the average citizen, but their reading habits are likely also skewed toward popular blogs. It is one thing if the top ten bloggers, who serve as filters for the rest of the blogosphere, come from relatively elite backgrounds.
But what of the second- and third-tier bloggers? If we are to take seriously the trickle up theory of online debate, we need to know who these ideas are trickling up from. We need systematic knowledge about a broader swath of the blogging community. These top bloggers have educational backgrounds that exceed those of professional columnists. One of these is a dearth of gender and ethnic diversity.
But he does highlight one big danger of political activism online being dominated by the highly articulate and educated bloggers:. Since it shifts power from the people to the best deliberators among them, deliberative democracy… appears to be in effect an aristocracy of intellectuals. In practice, power is likely to flow to the deans and directors, the professors and pundits, and all those who, by virtue of advanced education, quickness of thought, and fluency of speech can persuade others of their prowess in the high deliberative arts.
The online public sphere is already a de facto aristocracy dominated by those skilled in the high deliberative arts.
This is a really useful piece of work in that its a serious examination of one important element of political engagement online and it has some really useful facts on the dangers of demkcracy and a strengthening of the problems and weaknesses of our current democratic environment — the one that has delivered us a massive democratic deficit. However — by failing to expand the scope to look at other forms of participation beyond blogging and by keeping such a narrow definition of political activism to exclude campaigning and civic involvement the book ultimately falls diyital for me in its analysis of the potential of digital democracy.
I am researcher trying to figure out if all this web 2. I am exploring tensions between formal and informal participation, online and offline engagement and generally trying out ways to get people engaged with democracy. I am sure if we all think really hard we will be able to figure out something useful eventually!!! Plus the Internet can increase less participative enablers for democracy like transparency…. Exactly — the whole focus of the book is just too narrow — though at least it was a detailed analysis.
Hard to keep up with all your writing! I agree with you that this book gives itself too easy a target. However, it would certainly be interesting to see data that tried to calibrate any change that has already happened. Or are you using it as a Digktal reader? PDFs are mainly good — and I like the way you can email them to yourself so its really easy to add content. Am assuming that this will be improved at some point. I came to much the same conclusion. The book is useful but his argument is weakened by some in my opinion poor assumptions.
I was particularly struck by the point you highlight — who said that blogs are a tool for democratic participation?
Not really are they…. The audience is clear!
The Myth of Digital Democracy
One thing strikes me, and that is that almost any book about the internet, and any demographics connected with it, are out of date the moment they are despatched to the printers. I think, just from personal and anecdotal experience, that this becoming more true at an exponential rate. My belief is that in an otherwise stable world, views would be different now, with rampant use of social media etc, just for starters.
However, I also see some more subtle changes, not so much for the better. I am also still stuggling to understand why blogging from inside the political stockade is so slow to take off? Lack of empowerement of backbenchers?
Unwillingness to stick head up above parapet? Your email address will not be published. Quick round up of The Myth of Digital Democracy This post is a Dave Briggs appreciation post for two reasons — one is that I promised him I would read and blog about this book and I am a woman of my word and the other is that its thanks to him that I read it on my shiny new Kindle. The myth in question which is central to idea of the internet as a tool for democratic renewal: However the myth busting starts here with the thought that: And here is more of it: However its extremely useful to look at his analysis in terms of the digital divide and where new forms of activisim are rubbing up against the old elites: But he does highlight one big danger of political activism online being dominated by the highly articulate and educated bloggers: November 12, by curiouscatherine 8 comments views on Literature reviewUncategorized.
Reading list — part greatest hits and some newer entries May 29, 0 comments views.
The Myth of Digital Democracy – Matthew Hindman – Google Books
Networked Individuals and the creation of elites June 30, 1 comment views. Exactly — the whole focus of the book is just too narrow — though at least it was a detailed analysis C Reply.
Hi Peter — glad you liked it! All in all — am delighted!! Echo the comment about running to keep up with you, Catherine!
Btw, recent v long blog was a tour de force. Tom from my iPad, which i love dearly Reply. Leave a Democrady Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.