Reading Blog 23 – December 1, 2015

“A Dream Come True” (p. 295-306) by Lee Siegel from “The Digital Divide: Arguments for and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking.”

This week’s reading focused on the idea of Web 2.0. We’ve learned about Web 2.0 in our previous readings. It’s this idea that the internet has evolved from a system of simply gathering information, to actually posting and sharing interactive content. With the Web 2.0 movement, some scholars are arguing that the internet is more “democratized,” meaning that it can be used as a powerful tool for people all over the world. Now, we all have the materials and the access to express our creativity, and share our personal content with the world. However, in this week’s reading, Siegel criticizes the Web 2.0 movement. He questions whether or not the Web 2.0 movement is really beneficial for the general public. He claims that the Web 2.0 movement is problematic, especially if we think about it in democratic terms. Siegel claims that in the United States, we intertwine almost all of our institutions with this idea of “democracy.” We think that democracy on the internet means self-expression or freedom of creativity, but Siegel argues that these are actually results of democracy, and not democracy itself. So, if that’s the case, what even is the true definition of democracy? Another problem that Siegel poses is the idea of “Assignment Zero.” Assignment Zero is the concept that in a “democratized” internet society, when people put out their own content and information, they can speak out against others or use misinformation to their advantage. Who is to stop these people from misinforming the general public? Therefore, in his essay, Siegel ponders these new media dilemmas that come with an advancing internet society. It’s hard to distinguish what the possible solutions would be, but it’s important to think about these issues as we continue our use of the internet.

Links:

  1. “Is the internet a democratic technology?” – https://www.wilsoncenter.org/audiovideo/the-internet-democratic-technology
  2. “Technology and the Democratization of Media” – http://www.houstonpress.com/news/technology-and-the-democratization-of-the-media-6723360
  3. “Zuckerberg to the UN: The Internet Belongs to Everyone” – http://www.wired.com/2015/09/zuckerberg-to-un-internet-belongs-to-everyone/

Discussion Questions:

  1. Because of the democratization of media, would we need regulation on the speech posted on the web?
  2. What will the democratization of the media mean for large TV networks or newspapers? Will they eventually phase out?
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