Thursday, 28 February 2013

Hyperlink Essay: The Online Public Sphere

The rise of the Internet has constituted a new type of public sphere that differs from a traditional one. I will demonstrate the benefits of the Internet as a public sphere including its advanced participatory culture, abilities to distribute widespread democratic discussions, and its accessibility. Henry Jenkins uses his blog, “Confessions of an Aca-fan,” a form of citizen media, to discuss participatory democracy and participatory culture. In one of his posts he illustrates that we often think of democracy in relation to major breakthroughs for citizens such as signing the Declaration of Independence (Mar 5, 2007). We generally only think of the Internet as a platform for entertainment, however the benefits of the Internet and participatory democracy directly affect the public sphere on an intellectual level. The Internet allows the public to thrive through enhanced connectivity. In "Publics and Counterpublics" Michael Warner demonstrates that a pubic can be self-organized, a relation among strangers, personal and impersonal in terms of public speech, constituted though mere attention, and it is the social space created by the reflexive circulation of discourse (413-420). The Internet meets these criteria however it allows for a public to work on a worldwide scale that is accessible at any time. Nathaniel Poor refers to the relationship of the Internet and public spheres as an “online public sphere” (par. 3). Poor analyses Slashdot and demonstrates how it establishes itself as a public sphere. Anyone in the world can use Slashdot at anytime, and yet it is one public sphere. The Internet provides information to the public in a widespread and overly accessible way that may not of reached as many citizens if it were just posted in the newspaper or a book in the library and this leads for a more knowledgeable democracy in a public sphere. In "Blogging Outloud: Shifts in Public Voice" Danah Boyd expresses the power of the internet by comparing librarians and the Internet in terms of holding the power in providing information to the public. Boyd also believes that “information is power,” therefore the capabilities that the Internet has to provide information favors and contributes to the power of democracy (par. 8). In Mathew Ingram’s article he points out that social media, such as Twitter, can now break news in similar ways traditional media outlets do. In another one of his works, Ingram refers to news as a process because it works its way through many media sources and determines what is fact (par. 1). Twitter is a platform for an online public sphere because news can be spread to and from citizens, without framing or inserted ideologies to create a bias for the government. In, "Weblogs: a history and perspective" Rebecca Blood expresses the ability of weblogs, a form of citizen media, and their ability to transform citizens from being an audience to a public and consumers to creators (par. 30).  The public sphere is about creating and sharing ideas as a public in a democracy and the Internet allows us to do so on a worldwide scale. 

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