“[…] it is misleading to claim that online deliberation and online mobilization practices have really deepened democracy.”
“We want to emphasize that the Internet enables multiple, overlapped and diverse networked political spheres to emerge. These are contested spheres that are sometimes messy, chaotic, segmented and even anarchic. Not all of these aim to advance and deepen democracy, but within these convivial spheres individuals and groups have more chance to be political.”
Eight years ago, in 2008, when writings and scholarship on the internet were still predominantly utopian, my co-author Mark E Kann and I published a chapter with a different tone. Titled “Politics: Deliberation, Mobilization and Networked Practices of Agitation”, the two paragraphs above are part of our conclusion. At that moment (and in the following 8 years!) most people stubbornly wanted to believe in the inherent democratic power of the Internet. Today, probably some will think twice about this presumption.
I wish I can ask my co-author to reflect to what has been happening in the last eight years and consider updating our writing to reflect today’s situation (and focus more on social media). Unfortunately, it is impossible to do so. My wonderful co-author died early this year. Thanks, Mark, for being such a great colleague and co-author. RIP.
p.s. Thanks Kazys Varnelis for reminding me about the existence of this work and how prophetic it was 🙂