Examining the effects of the Internet on American politics, this book reveals its potential as a tool for empowering people to challenge existing power structures. However, the authors show how the American political system tends to normalize political activity, and thus the Internet's vast subversive potential could be lost, rendering it just another purveyor of ignored information.
Chapter 2: Democracy in Cyberspace: A Brief History
Hardly anyone uses computers to compute anymore. Instead we use them to communicate.
If democracy entails equal opportunity to participate in politics, then the Internet creates that opportunity. Computer-mediated communication (CMC) technology provides individual citizens, interest groups, and public officials with the information necessary to decide questions of politics and public policy, and it provides them with the communication tools necessary to organize themselves for collective action. An “electronic” agora actually seems possible, in which the ordinary citizen's voice can be amplified cheaply and broadcast as widely as the voice of the richest plutocrat.
This chapter presents a brief history of the origin and development of computer networks and how they became ...