In the last phase of Johnny Ryan’s book I think he covered some of the most relevant issues facing our current generation of Internet users. One of the most interesting chapters to me was the one on the effect of the internet of politics. As a double major in Technical Writing and Communication and Political Science I am very passionate about politics. This chapter brought my two majors together and displayed the overlap between them. Ryan talks about the “digital soapbox” and how the Internet has given people a platform to say their ideas and their feelings about politics. This digital soapbox really made me reflect on the past election and how many Facebook posts I saw during the entire campaign season. Yes, we did give these people the ability to share and write about these issues. However, it is important that with this power we contain great responsibility to provide true facts, which can be difficult over the Internet. There were countless times where i would read a post that was factually incorrect, unfortunately those types of incidents are extremely common and lead to a rumor mill effect across the entire web.
But, politics and the Internet are still developing together. One of the benefits Ryan talks about is the ability for politicians to be in constant and direct communication with their constituents. They are able to maintain more constant communication and deliver platforms and policy information with the click of a button. Another positive impact the internet has made regarding politics is it increased participations. The Internet puts facts and news at our fingertips, so it is almost impossible to completely ignore it. A major key in a successful democracy is participation from the citizens and the Internet brings in more of a crowd that may have not participated in the past.
With all of this being said politicians have always had to be careful of the image they portray to the general public. The Internet gives even more immediate and intimate details about these people to us right in the comfort of our own homes. My questions for Ryan after reading these chapters are:
- Will there ever be a time when voting will be online and how do we go about that without the threat of fraud or hacking?
- Should we have access to these private facts and details about these politicians lives? AKA is it fair to know things about people you wouldn't want people to know about you?
Ryan, J. (2010). A history of the internet and the digital future. London, UK: Reaktion Books. [Phase 3: 11, 12, & 13]