[iDC] Participation in the Networked Public Sphere

Ulises A. Mejias umejias at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 17 07:34:39 EDT 2006

 In preparation for a webinar I am conducting this Thursday, I wrote a piece on social media and the networked public sphere which I think might be relevant to this discussion. I have posted a draft here: http://ideant.typepad.com/socialmedia.htm (after Thursday, this page will be removed and the article will be posted on my blog).
 Because the article contains many hyperlinks (which don't work well in this plain text format), I will only post an excerpt here:

 Can social media increase and improve civic participation? If so, in what ways? There's a lot being said and written about the subject these days, but it is difficult to get a clear overview of the opinions...
 At a general level, we could say that on one side of the debate are those who believe that social media can increase civic participation and shift the balance of power away from the institutions that currently stand in the way of change. On the other side are those who warn that social media can only offer a reduced form of participation, that it diminishes the value of individual contributions, and that it leaves social systems more prone to manipulation by lowering their intelligence to the minimum common denominator (i.e., stupidity or mediocrity). 

 Thus, the debate can be framed in terms of whether social media can engender democratic _publics_ that embody an intelligence and capacity for action greater than the sum of its members, or whether it will merely continue to support the production of anti-democratic _masses_ of disenfranchised and alienated consumers. 


Comments are welcomed.


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