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Latest Empirical Findings on Democratic Effects of the Internet

Latest Empirical Findings on Democratic Effects of the Internet
Jacob Groshek from Iowa State University recently published the latest results from his research on the democratic effects of the Internet in the International Journal of Communication. A copy of Groshek’s study is available here (PDF). Groshek published an earlier study in 2009 which I blogged about here. In this latest set of findings, Groshek concludes that “Internet diffusion was not a specific causal mechanism of national-level democratic growth during the timeframe analyzed,” which was 1994-2003. The author therefore argues that “the diffusion of the Internet should not be considered a democratic panacea, but rather a component of contemporary democratization processes.” Interestingly, these conclusions seem to contradict his findings from 2009. The purpose of this blog post is to summarize Groshek’s research so I can include it in my dissertation’s literature review. Some Background: The Methodology: The Results: What about Croatia, Indonesia and Mexico? In Conclusion: Like this:

The Political Power of Social Media On January 17, 2001, during the impeachment trial of Philippine President Joseph Estrada, loyalists in the Philippine Congress voted to set aside key evidence against him. Less than two hours after the decision was announced, thousands of Filipinos, angry that their corrupt president might be let off the hook, converged on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, a major crossroads in Manila. The protest was arranged, in part, by forwarded text messages reading, "Go 2 EDSA. Wear blk." The public's ability to coordinate such a massive and rapid response -- close to seven million text messages were sent that week -- so alarmed the country's legislators that they reversed course and allowed the evidence to be presented. Since the rise of the Internet in the early 1990s, the world's networked population has grown from the low millions to the low billions. To continue reading, please log in. Don't have an account? Register Register now to get three articles each month. Have an account?

The road to Tahrir - The Egyptian Example While the uprising in Egypt caught most observers of the Middle East off guard, it did not come out of the blue. The seeds of this spectacular mobilization had been sown as far back as the early 2000s and had been carefully cultivated by activists from across the political spectrum, many of these working online via Facebook, twitter, and within the Egyptian blogosphere. Working within these media, activists began to forge a new political language, one that cut across the institutional barriers that had until then polarized Egypt’s political terrain, between more Islamically-oriented currents (most prominent among them, the Muslim Brotherhood) and secular-liberal ones. One event highlighted the political potential of blogging in Egypt and helped secure the practice’s new and expanding role within Egyptian political life. Once this video clip was placed on YouTube and spread around the Egyptian blogosphere, opposition newspapers took up the story, citing the blogs as their source.

Liberty and Security: Hostile Allies We do not purchase one at the expense of the other. “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” —Benjamin Franklin They are perhaps the most famous words ever written about the relationship between liberty and security. They have become iconic. Very few people who quote these words, however, have any idea where they come from or what Franklin was really saying when he wrote them. They appear originally in a 1755 letter Franklin is presumed to have written on behalf of the Pennsylvania Assembly to the colonial governor during the French and Indian War. Photo credit: Citizensheep, via flickr The “essential liberty” to which Franklin referred was not what we would think of today as civil liberties but, rather, the right of self-governance of a legislature in the interests of collective security. In short, Franklin was not describing a tension between government power and individual liberty. As Philip Bobbitt puts it,

Entre révolutions et un eG8: les dirigeants sont-ils en train de faire main basse sur Internet ? Avec plus de 1,8 milliard d'internautes en décembre 2009, selon les statistiques de Internet World Stats, l'importance et l'extraordinaire parcours du réseau des réseaux n'est plus à démontrer. Internet, pour beaucoup ça se résume en Google et Facebook, pour d'autres en un outil existentiel au boulot ou à la maison. Mais depuis peu, Internet prend d'autres ampleurs où des spectres politiques investissent les lieux. Certes, ceci n'est pas nouveau mais quand cela devient un élément fédérateur de deux révolutions, les différents acteurs mondiaux refont leurs calculs. Tout le monde l'a compris, Internet est vraiment l'endroit "to be in" du moment. Et ça dépasse même la simple "présence" de Twitter ou Facebook, les discours des chefs d'Etat vont de plus en plus vers un appel d'une "réglementation" d'Internet. "Réglementer" Internet par des lois qui autorisent des mesures de filtrages ou de surveillance par une autorité est sûrement une entrave à la définition même d'Internet.

Small Change At four-thirty in the afternoon on Monday, February 1, 1960, four college students sat down at the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. They were freshmen at North Carolina A. & T., a black college a mile or so away. “I’d like a cup of coffee, please,” one of the four, Ezell Blair, said to the waitress. “We don’t serve Negroes here,” she replied. The Woolworth’s lunch counter was a long L-shaped bar that could seat sixty-six people, with a standup snack bar at one end. By next morning, the protest had grown to twenty-seven men and four women, most from the same dormitory as the original four. By the following Monday, sit-ins had spread to Winston-Salem, twenty-five miles away, and Durham, fifty miles away. The world, we are told, is in the midst of a revolution. These are strong, and puzzling, claims. Some of this grandiosity is to be expected. What makes people capable of this kind of activism? This pattern shows up again and again.

Teaching Students to Become Curators of Ideas: The Curation Project I know a lot of people view curation as a buzz word devoid of meaning, but I like the metaphor! I think it beautifully captures the process we need to go through to best make sense of the vast amount of information available on the web. Of course, it doesn’t help that a lot of people use the word curation to describe activities that don’t live up to the metaphor. And that takes away from its power. The Curation Project & the PLN As part of the social media class, my students are required to set up a network of online mentors using social media tools. In essence, I tasked students with creating the ultimate resource on a particular topic and to share it with the world. The Student Projects: This was without a doubt one of the most rewarding assignments I’ve graded. As far as curation services are concerned, it seems most students gravitated towards Scoop.it and Storify. Storyful Projects: Branding Insights from a Journalist (Meredith) Scoop.it Projects: Storify Projects:

Democracy and its discontents We live in a much more democratic world than our great-grandparents. But democracy has always had its trenchant critics, often people of high educational attainment and income arguing that important social and political decisions cannot be left to the uneducated, manipulable masses, who could not be trusted to make decisions for the social good let alone for their own good. Ortega y Gasset, though a liberal and supporter of republican ideals, raised the alarm bells at the beginning of the 20th century, warning of the dangers of mass participation in politics in his The Revolt of the Masses. The American intellectual, Walter Lippmann, articulated this idea by writing in Public Opinion: the common interests very largely elude public opinion entirely, and can be managed only by a specialized class whose personal interests reach beyond the locality. We don’t think so. Of course, the decisions that democratic systems take will sometimes be misguided.

Un panorama des réseaux sociaux politiques Après avoir investi Facebook, Twitter et autres plateformes vidéo, les partis politiques sont nombreux à avoir créé leur propre réseau social, avec des résultats mitigés. Un peu plus d’un avant les présidentielles, quels rôles les médias sociaux peuvent-ils jouer dans la bataille du web pour l’Elysée ? Un an sur la toile et puis s’en va : les « Créateurs de possible », réseau social de l’UMP lancé en le 7 janvier 2010 devrait fermer officiellement mi-janvier. Le site devait faciliter les échanges entre sympathisants UMP et internautes, proposer ou relayer des actions sur le terrain, inviter les inscrits à se rassembler autour d’une « initiative » concrète à mener à bien. Ou comment transformer le simple militant en authentique agent d’influence. Les autres réseaux sociaux de partis politiques sont, eux, beaucoup plus orientés « militants », ce qui rend difficile la comparaison avec les « Créateurs de possible ».

Médecine 2.0 : le Web redéfinit le rapport patient-docteur Les patients refusent de se fier à une seule source d’information -le corps médical. Ils fouillent le Net, postent des messages sur des forums, discutent entre eux de leurs traitements. Et font descendre de leur piédestal les médecins, plutôt hostiles au Net, mais qui commencent à se former à l’interactivité. Catherine a eu un cancer du sein. Ce n’est pas son médecin qui le lui a appris, c’est Google : « Mon médecin m’a dit que j’avais un “carcinome”. Le professeur Bernard Granger, psychiatre à l’hôpital Cochin, reconnaît que certains malades en savent maintenant plus que lui : « Parfois, les patients m’apprennent des choses ! Dès 2004, des patients s’interrogent sur le Mediator Bernard Granger lui aussi furète sur le Net, à la recherche de nouvelles informations sur un traitement ou ses éventuels effets secondaires. « Parfois, je fais une recherche sur Google devant mon patient », sourit le psychiatre. « Un endocrinologue m’a prescrit du Mediator pour perdre 5 kilos.

Google Drive vs. SkyDrive vs. Dropbox Yesterday, Microsoft unleashed a desktop sync app for SkyDrive. Today, Google followed by finally launching Google Drive — after a series of early appearances hinted that it was going to be arriving very, very soon. So now that the dust has settled, how do the two new services stack up with the current king of cloud storage and sync, Dropbox? Let’s take a look. Free Storage In terms of disk space in the cloud, SkyDrive offers you the most bang for your non-buck. Additional Storage Worried those base storage amounts won’t cut the mustard? It’s worth noting that upgrading to any paid account with Google Drive will automatically bump your Gmail storage to 25GB. Selective Sync Microsoft said they wanted to keep the SkyDrive app as straightforward and easy to use as possible. Platform Support Both Microsoft and Google released apps for their own mobile platforms while simultaneously snubbing each other’s. Ecosystem 3rd party app integration is one area where Dropbox really shines. Summing Up

Vulnerable at 2,672 Nuclear Warheads? In a recent article, Jeffrey Lewis of Arms Control Wonk outlined what could happen to U.S. nuclear forces under a sequestration budget. He illustrates that even with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s so-called “doomsday” cuts to nuclear weapons related activities, the U.S. could still field enough warheads to greatly surpass the limits put in place by New START. What could that “doomsday” look like if the U.S. maximized its nuclear forces? Lewis is careful to note that these cuts are what could happen and not necessarily what will happen. 12/06/11 UPDATE: A reader correctly noted that sequestration cuts in total dollars did not match Jeffery Lewis' article. 12/06/11 UPDATE: To avoid any confusion, we have removed the total dollar figure from the post. Sources: Jeffrey Lewis and Hans Kristensen Research: Mary Kraszynski Creative/Art Direction: Peter Fedewa

REGARDS SUR LE NUMERIQUE: Blog - Clay Shirky : « Personne n'est titulaire du code source de la démocratie » RSLNmag est édité par Microsoft et se consacre à l’analyse et au décryptage du monde numérique.. RSLN : D’abord, une question d’actualité. J’imagine que vous suivez les événements actuels en Tunisie. Dans Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (2008), vous avez montré comment les nouvelles technologies permettaient aux citoyens lambdas de se saisir des outils permettant une « coopération » à une large échelle, une compétence dont Etats et institutions étaient jusqu’à présent les seuls dépositaires. Avez-vous l’impression que nous sommes dans cette configuration ? Clay Shirky : D’abord, une précision, de taille. A partir de ces éléments, mais en se plaçant également dans une perspective de long terme, ce que l’on voit, en ce moment, à l’œuvre en Tunisie, c’est bien une tentative de mettre en place une coordination explicitement politique de tous les mouvements de contestation : les manifestants tunisiens tentent de forcer l’Etat à s’intéresser à leurs revendications, à traiter avec eux. RSLN : Précisément, qui sont-ils, ces nouveaux faiseurs d’opinion ?

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