Digital Democracy

A blog for the course New Media and a Democratic Society

Internet and Democracy

Posted by clocke22 on August 30, 2010

Morozov’s article reminds us that the great democratizing power of the Internet is only one side of the story; the Internet can also be used to subvert free expression and discourse.  This article drew to mind language drafted by Congress when passing the Telecommunications Act of 1996, specifically section 230, which provides immunity from civil liability for internet service providers and websites stemming from tortuous or illegal content posted by users.  The introduction to this provision nicely lays out Congress’ predictions for the Internet and its policy directions, many of which Morozov refers to in the beginning of his article.  “The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity” is one of the findings made by Congress.  The provision can be found here:—-000-.html.

An explanation of the law:

Some of the technical terms Morozov used that I looked up further were: SEO services such as, mashups, DDoS and crowdsourcing.   When looking up mashups, it was hard to cull out the Internet mashup references from the music mashup references (and for the record, I am a huge fan of Glee and its mashups!). provided a fairly straightforward explanation, and I was actually surprised to see that mashups are not really new and that I have already been using them: IBM offered a more credible and more detailed explanation:  As IBM explained, the term actually comes from the music scene.   Next, I researched the DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack.  Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute website offered a fairly straightforward description of a DDoS:  I especially appreciated the analogy to a phone line being busy—I would compare it to what happens when you call in to a radio call-in contest.


4 Responses to “Internet and Democracy”

  1. clocke22 said

    • Your third link does not work. I will check it again at 5 p.m. today.

      • clocke22 said

        I posted it yesterday around 1 pm but it still has not been approved:

        Posted by clocke22 on September 2, 2010 at 12:57 pm

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        I like how you keyed in on the fact there is a method to Google’s madness (from what I understand, a pretty complex one). When you think about it, most of Google something and flip through maybe one or two pages, and only more if we are really looking for something specific. There is hierarchy to the Internet, and this is one example. The whole net neutrality debate and the potential to make it slower to access some sites rather than others (on my to-do list is the plan to learn more about this but for now my vague explanation will have to do:)) is somewhat similar to how some information always seems to float to the top but others is hard to find. As Morozov would like, it detracts from the idea that the Internet is this truly egalitarian, equal access forum for all to express their ideas.

  2. Good links to the law (§ 230. Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material) and the lengthy explanation (Immunity for Online Publishers Under the Communications Decency Act) — HOWEVER, they really are not _highly_ relevant items to Morozov’s essay. Of course they are related, but indirectly.

    You made a good point about mashups — that word is used rather loosely to refer to some things that are VERY different from one another! Your link to (What Exactly Is an Internet ‘Mashup’?) is useful (although I have NEVER heard anyone else say mashups have any relationship to mashed potatoes!!), but the IBM link (Mashups: The new breed of Web app) is much more so.

    I’d ask you to consider your readers when you are offering links like these: many people will click only one link. If you only give them the best one (instead of a mediocre one AND a good one), you’re doing your readers a favor.

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