Cyberoptimism and Cyberpessimism

Scholars who have examined the interaction between the Internet and society have had widely different interpretations of the Internet and how it is changing society, ranging from the libertarian vision of a utopia described by John Perry Barlow in “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” to the dystopian nightmare of ubiquitous surveillance warned of by Simon Davies, the director of Privacy International. The respective positions of so-called cyberoptimists and cyberpessimists involve whether new media are facilitating or restricting citizens’ attempts at political participation and whether politicians use new media to manipulate citizens rather than simply to convey their message. In his 2011 book The Net Delusion, Evgeny Morozov discussed how the Internet can be used by both revolutionaries and authoritarians, so that the Internet ...

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