The Myth of Digital Democracy
By Matthew Hindman
JK1764 .H56 2009
New Book Island, 2nd floor
The Internets have revolutionized the way we live our lives. You get your news of the day from CNN.com as opposed to flipping through a newspaper or turning on the television. Instead of making phone calls, you send e-mails. You rely on online product reviews to make purchasing decisions. You blog about your opinions to the world on everything from how you’re feeling at the moment to your political leanings. The electronic series of webs and tubes have given the power to the people, right?
Not so fast there, buddy, says Hindman, political science professor at Arizona State University. The popular belief that the Internet has made politics and the public sphere more accessible given the proliferation of political websites and blogs doesn’t hold up. The author contends that the power has not shifted, that when in reality, it has only strengthened the elite media outlets. He and his colleagues not only looked at the top political and news websites, but also examined link structures and search engine queries to find out just how individuals end up at particular sites. Hindman’s work demonstrates that while the Internet has definitely changed political participation in some ways, the corporate media, the big guys if you will, still control the scene.