Social Media and Politics

Is social media changing the political landscape?  Some have argued that online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter radically alter the costs of political action, making it easy for individuals to stay informed and to act.  Others contend that the new media might actually undermine these processes, leaving people more isolated and less likely to participate.  This course explores how social media and politics interrelate in contemporary media theory, in American politics, and in the Middle East.

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1 Response to Social Media and Politics

  1. staceync says:

    “Infrastructure: Its Transformations and Effect on Digital Activism” by Scholz discusses the evolution of the Internet throughout time. This piece of literature begins by discussing how the Internet began as a “military-scientific” project and evolved into a commercialized medium that exists internationally. The article begins by talking about ARPANET and how it was part of the “military-scientific” project and later was used for communication within various organizations. ARPANET’s mail system was commonly used throughout the Vietnam War to help send messages worldwide. Additionally, ARPANET was used to help the Pentagon “shadow political activists.” In the early 1970’s, Americans started to become aware of it even though it began two years earlier. When the National Science Foundation was controlling ARPANET in 1991, it was becoming more publicly available. In 1995, the National Science Foundation allowed the net to be used for commercial use. This shift of commercialism led to a change from individuals designing sites to larger corporations controlling platforms. During this period, people got to express themselves through content via user-friendly platforms. Now, the Internet has enabled users to take advantage of services that are available such as various social networking sites. Throughout the chapter, Scholz discusses the impact that commercialism has on activism efforts. He talks about how social media has allowed people to voice their message despite the fact that a few large corporations dominate the Internet space.

    “Counter Culture to Cyber Culture” by Turner talks about how the computer evolved over time. Turner implies that the personal computer and the net came out of the counterculture that occurred in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He talks about how Brand helped evolve personal computing. Turner indicates that people wanted to have control over their own information so therefore people use computers in order to express themselves. Additionally, Turner talks about how the Internet is a critical tool because it allows those individuals who disagree with a governmental decision to voice an opinion. However, Scholz talks about how the government developed the Internet for communication reasons. Despite these differences, they both seem to agree that the Internet is a place where people can express themselves internationally. Additionally, both readings discuss the Internet’s initial use and how it developed over time.

    I thought that these readings were extremely interesting because we got a chance to learn about how the Internet started and where it is currently. It also gave us a better understanding of how the Internet allows people to express themselves internationally whether they agree or disagree with something.

    I have two questions: Do you think more governmental regulation will be placed on the Internet over time? If so, what kind of regulation? Also, we see more and more people using social media outlets to express themselves. Do you think that people are using this medium in a way that enhances or hinders face-to-face communication?

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