Review: The Myth of Digital Democracy

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5.0 out of 5 stars Righteous New Knowledge, Rock Solid Achievement

February 20, 2010

Matthew Hindman

I read in threes and fours, this book is part of the set that includes SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa and Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful.

This book educated me. It challenged and soundly negated some of my assumptions, but it also reinforced my view that the Internet at this time is a communications network, not a knowledge network or an action network.

Here is the last paragraph:

“Yet where the Internet has failed to live up to its billing has to do with the most direct kind of political voice. If we consider the ability of ordinary citizens to write things that other people will see, the Internet has fallen far short of the claims that continue to be made about it. It may be easy to speak in cyberspace, but it remains difficult to be heard.”

Totally awesome. This is an impressive piece of work. At Phi Beta Iota I am posting four web diagrams showing top news and political sites and a couple of other things (I no longer post images to Amazon after they removed 354 images as a lazy way of censoring twelve copies of Obama-Bush sharing the same face–I no longer trust Amazon with my work, hence Phi Beta Iota–and a lesson about Internet abuse).

Behind this elegant book is a great deal of hard work with lots of math, lots of elbow grease, and lots of time spent making sense of massive amounts of data. I am totally impressed.

High points for me, having earlier raved about Joe Trippi’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything as well as Cass Sunstein’s Republic.com:

01) Digital divide is not the only divide–Internet is a winner take all environment

02) Liberals predominate online

03) Googlearchy has replaced meritocracy…top ten sites rule, everyone else go fish

04) Pornography and webmail are the two big dogs on the Internet, followed by search engines and a very small news set. In comparison to webmail, news is less than 20%, and in comparison to news, politics is perhaps 1% at best (of news–a tiny tiny fraction of it all).

05) The author does not really get into the deep web, the reality that there are over 75 search engines and Goolge is losing marketshare, or the fact that China and India and Brazil are creeping up and will one day soon hit a vertical rise in their web presence, especially now that kanji and other webname character sets are accepted.

06) The heart of the book, but not the bulk of the book, is about the “missing middle” and the very real fact that ordinary citizens are neither seen nor heard within the Internet overall and within the political chambers of the Internet particularly.

My review does not do this book justice. It is profoundly deeper than my summary above.

The book does reinforce my view that we must get all research and all budgets online, and that we must create the World Brain Institute and the Global Game, mandate true cost information online, and start using citizen buying power to move capitalism in a more moral sustainable useful direction (see my review just posted of Come Home America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country and my many other reviews of books on capitalism, one more of which I will mention here, The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism.

Four more links within my Amazon “allowance”:
Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder
Reflections on Evolutionary Activism: Essays, poems and prayers from an emerging field of sacred social change
Don’t Bother Me Mom–I’m Learning!
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

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See the three copied graphics:

Graphic (3): Myth of Digital Democracy

Feb 20

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