Howard Part 2
Today's question: Communication technologies have always had a role in political life. Is there something fundamentally or causally different about the newest information technologies in the political sphere? For example, you might consider: What aspects of communication and culture are structurally different about the political sphere as opposed to other kinds of activities? What aspects of new communication technologies (like blogs, online donations, citizenship, and political campaign software [e.g., VoteMover etc.]) are different from the older communication technologies that have been used for politics? Please refer to the Howard reading in supporting your answer.
Democracy is a form of government that is directed by the votes of the constituency. New media technology, specifically data mining and OpinionBots, turn democracy into a government that is run by the trails of our credit cards. If Martin and I felt Howard was depressing in the first half of the book, as Howard said it himself, we would be “destroyed” after reading the second half. This prophecy came true. I feel that the new technology is turning our democratically run elections into a bit of a joke. Websites can be tailored to “narrowcast” to particular individuals. “Technology exposes the holes in campaigns” (pg 154). These holes, or paradoxes, are not fixed, merely managed, according to campaign managers. Before the Internet politics were run very differently. We were governed based on our votes, or polling. I had made the analogy last week in class that current campaigns are run in a fashion similar to the algorithms on Amazon.com. Our data shadows can be mined for information that not only tell us which book to read next, but who to vote for in the upcoming elections. At what point does this read as a democracy? Or at what point is this not some Orwellian nightmare come true?