Hindman, Chapter 1. The Internet and the “Democratization” of Politics

I was somehow dumbfounded after I read this chapter Myth of Digital Democracy; it had set straight my naïve understanding about political discourse in the digital age.  Or an element of reality of it at least woke me up.  I used to be bubbled up with the promises of this new technology era with possibility of liberating our sides of our perception which often inhibits us to think beyond our reality. After this reading, however, a realization came to me about how crucial it is to think critically about facing common practices in our everyday life to make balance our views.

In this chapter, Hindman questions the concept that the Internet is democratizing American politics. He says, “It maybe comforting to believe that the Internet is making U.S. politics more democratic….the Internet is democratizing politics are simply wrong.” He claims that political websites and blogs do not mobilize citizens nor does it make the public space to be broader. According to him,  Internet in fact has done little to expand the prospect of political discourse but instead empowers a small group of rigorous writers who publish their opinions on the arena of web. He claims that unlike the common belief, numerous of Americans blog about politics, blogs occupies a marginalized portion of Web traffic, and most blog is distributed to a small group of mainstream, highly conceptualized professionals. He demonstrates how, regardless of the flood of individualized Web sites, online news audiences prefer mostly on the top twenty channels. As an evidence, he examines analyzed about three million Web sites, how their links are organized, how people search for political content, and how search engines, such as Google and Yahoo lead traffic to popular outlets. Also, online fundraising and organizing are dominated by several strong interest groups. He asserts that it has shown that the Internet has increased amount of formation in political participation as well as it changed the way interest groups and candidates make, structure, assemble, and raise money. However, few people who know how-to do all such things are still the ones shape how political resource on the Web is communicated and obtained.  In short, he declares that Internet has not given freer power to voice of common people. Nor, has it not reduced the cost for citizens to pay share of corporate media either.

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