Week 14

In Hindman’s chapter, he discusses how the invention of Mosaic changed the Internet as the world’s first graphical web browser.  Mosaic made the web a medium that anyone could navigate and transformed it from a place mainly for techies and academics into the fastest growing communication technology.  After Mosaic, political benefits were seen as some of the most important things the internet had to offer.  The belief was that new sources for information online would make citizens more informed about politics. Although this is true in some cases, if people do not choose to view sites that give political information or engage politically online, it may not be true.  The internet allows citizens to compete with journalists for the creation and dissemination of political information.  Because the internet allows citizens to do this, there are now thousands of places where people can get information rather than just a few TV sources.

Hindman also talks about how there is much debate and disagreement about the definition of certain things such as democratization and political voice online.  Because of this disagreement, the internet’s influence politically can be viewed differently by different people.  Hindman focuses on democratization as descriptive.  Most talk about how the internet promotes democratization is about how media messages are disseminated and the mass public receiving them.  The internet requires citizens to play the part the traditionally organized press used to solely play.  Eli Pariser in The Filter Bubble and Hindman touch on similar things here.  The internet produces the need for citizens to now do the filtering for themselves.  Before the internet, the news organizations did this for us, they told us what to see and watch, however a broader scope of information was included.  Now, since we choose how we filter, we are not necessarily exposed to as much of a variety of information.  Since people now have to be the filter instead of the news, if they do not choose to view political information, they will not necessarily be politically aware which is the opposite of what some authors argue.

My question is whether the need for people to be their own filters now, which was traditionally a role reserved for the organized press, helps people to be more politically aware and getting otherwise uninformed citizens involved, or if it is inhibiting political awareness by filtering out information.

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