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{ Category Archives } Internet & Society

What video games offer democratic participation

[cross-posted from Valuable Games] As President Obama recognized in his Open Government Directive, transparency is only the first step towards a more vibrant democracy. The bigger problem has always been fostering widespread participation. After all, one of the most vexing problems facing today’s government – regulatory capture of an agency by special interests – flourishes […]

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Engineering a better virtual town hall

President Obama and his new media team are rightfully receiving kudos for their inaugural online town hall. Roundup at Personal Democracy Forum. It’s a brave step forward in a system that’s naturally (and understandably) conservative. Because it was a pilot, there’s room to improve, as the first commenter on the linked PDF post points out. […]

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Survey on new/lapsed voters

New survey out from the Wall Street Journal / NBC / MySpace. Full report. The WSJ’s read on this was that new voters were less likely than the poll of all voters to vote this November (“very interested” = 49% vs. 70%). However, what I find interesting is that this question is on a 10-pt […]

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Webmail circumvention of gv’t transparency continues

Last year I noted that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez’s use of RNC mail servers to conduct business related to the attorney firings scandal posed a serious threat to our democratic government’s requirement of transparency and access. The problem of using private email accounts to conduct public business reemerged with the discovery that Gov. Sarah […]

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Trolls, politics, and the New York Times

To the editor: Given the reality of Internet trolling (The Trolls Among Us, by Mattathias Schwartz, Aug 3), the New York Times’ own reader comment system is hopelessly naive in its architecture. Head over to the Caucus blog, read the comment threads, and ask yourself: how many of those who claim to be an “Obama […]

Law, not just the Internet, fuels fundraising success

Sure, the Internet has given Barack Obama’s presidential campaign an incredible fundraising edge. But smart use of technology only partially explains the breathtaking numbers (over $260M raised, over 1.5M individual donors). Obama’s online fundraising strategy is possible only because of the Federal Election Campaign Act — ironically, the very legislation that pundits claim he now […]

Don’t Let Internet Trolls Get Your Goat: politics is divisive enough without them taking a toll

Last week, as Hillary Clinton stood at the brink of suspending her candidacy, I changed my Facebook status to “Gene Koo respects and admires Hillary.” I meant this in all sincerity: I proudly supported Clinton’s Senate campaigns, and I marvel at what she accomplished in her historic run for President. But in less than an […]

From transactions to relationships: building power on the Internet

Here’s another piece I wrote for the Rebooting America project: Twentieth century mass media offered a first-pass solution to the problem of scaling democracy to a rapidly-growing American republic. Whatever its virtues, the solution that radio and television provided is incomplete. Mass media atrophied our understanding of democratic participation, offering instead a politics that mimics […]

Enlightened doubt : Wikipedia’s postmodern search for truth

Like most students who dabbled in postmodern theory during college, I came away with a certain skepticism towards “truth,” yet managed to emerge with a belief — call it faith — that Truth was still out there. Stanley Fish offers a plot summary of the story so far in todays’ Times. As a practical matter, […]

Passive tip jars?

As a user of the Adblock Plus add-on for Firefox, every time I visit the Daily Kos I’m asked to Subscribe! since I’m not contributing to the site by viewing ads. While I feel a bit of a freeloader, and I’d be OK with paying some nominal amount per visit, I also don’t feel particularly […]