Internet and democracy

This is my first time to post an assignment on a blog! I try to write something seems like a blog but not a traditional reading posting, and I hope it does.

The Internet: A room for our own? continues the debate on the relationship between the impact of Internet and democracy, though the latter is a vague definition because everyone can explain it in his or her own way.

As I am not a “scientific” person like Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory, I only consider the Nobel Prize as a piece of everyday news when the prize are awarded. Therefore, Morozov’s article first introduces me to know that the Internet has a certain relationship with Nobel Peace Prize. For further information, I google “Internet Nobel Prize”. To my surprise, this great creation has already been nominated and it seems like competitive to be “the first non human winner”.  Although the Internet offers many opportunities for both the governments and the public to fight against violence, unfortunately, it is also the vehicle for terrorism. For example, as mentioned in another class, the Internet is used to plan and carry out specific attacks by Bin Laden. Consequently, I am curious about how the committee would assess the Internet and its contribution when comparing with previous winners, who are concrete people or organizations. (Is it OK to copy the link here directly instead of setting it as a hyperlink to a word in one sentence?)

FoxNews also briefly described other nominated candidates, including Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese citizen. However, when I type both his name and Nobel Prize as key words on a famous Chinese search engine, the results are almost in the same tone, which says the Foreign Ministry of China opposes it very strongly.

Here involves the issue of censorship, especially in China’s environment, which is I’m more familiar with. As mentioned in my first post, we don’t have access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in China unless we install certain software on our PCs. These special software are favored by a lot of young people very much but I’m not good at this, so I didn’t use Facebook for nearly one month when I was at home this summer… My point is, although the censorship is almost everywhere and many people consider it as the representative of national power, it probably loses its effectiveness at any time and causes decentralization, which could be a part of democracy.

Public diplomacy 2.0 is another new term for me, but “public diplomacy” is not. I remember the definition for public diplomacy is the promotion activity of national image to impact people around the world. It is widely used in the Iraq war. Along with the revolution called “Web 2.0” in digital world, the Internet audience has begun to have opportunities to interact with people sitting in front of screens in other places. Based on this idea about interaction, Public diplomacy 2.0 aims at not only focusing on policy-making in traditional ways, but also “using this new Internet phenomenon in order to achieve those objectives—citizen to citizen, person to person—and more”.


~ by luckymaggie on August 29, 2010.

8 Responses to “Internet and democracy”

  1. The Nobel Peace Prize is a strange choice for this assignment. You are saying of all the things that were new to you, or unfamiliar to you, in the six pages of Morozov’s article, this was one of the two most interesting things? While it very well may be true, it seems strange to me.

    All Morozov said about it was: “… it’s clear why the study of the Internet’s impact on democracy won’t earn anyone the Nobel Peace Prize in the foreseeable future.” That is not much.

    You wrote about China in your post. Morozov mentions China five times in his article, but you didn’t refer directly to anything he said. For example, you could have given a source for “Internet censorship campaigns in China” (page 82) or “in the Chinese case ‘authoritarian deliberation’ predates the Internet” (page 84).

    The second article you linked to (The Rise of Public Diplomacy 2.0) is a very good choice! The author is a law professor, and she was “was the first Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy to be appointed to the U.S. Department of State,” according to her bio on that article. It’s very interesting how the author links social networking and use of social media to the practice of diplomacy.

    • I know this might sound strange…but yes, it is brand new for me, and I think this piece of news offers me a chance to look over what the Internet is doing for us: bridging the digital gap in many developing countries, facilitating the e-commerce, making everyone has the right and his own place to express, and etc. I pick up this point for the simple reason that I would like to go over the history of Internet and its extraordinary contributions to the world.

      Actually, it is Morozov’s paragraphs give me a lot of evidence about the censorship issue in China. Just as Morozov stated, the government tries very hard to eliminate everything that might threaten the nation-state power, but those elements “have not only survived into the cyber age, they seem to prosper in it”. To be honest, DDOS and the phrase “authoritarian deliberation” are new, too. It seems like by those methods, the situation of countries labeled as tightly-controlled or limited democracy will be improved a lot.

  2. Censorship is a quite common weapon which every government has used, since ancient Athens to modern China, in order to minimize the political impact of criticism, but Beijing seems to be especially nervous about information control on the internet, thus the ‘Great Fire Wall’ is so widely used that even some politically neutral information would be filtered out.

    In the era of Web 2.0, everyone becomes a webpage editor with Twitter and Facebook and it becomes even more easier to propagate one’s ideas and thoughts to the entire world. To monitor every dialogue of 1.3 billion is undoubtedly impossible, and there is no way to shut down those American companies, in that case, Beijing plays with new strategy: on the one hand, the preferential treatments are provided to the Chinese imitators of Twitter or Facebook, which government could easily control; on the other, Twitter and Facebook those Web 2.0 sites are blocked. By doing so, Beijing built a fence inside which Chinese people could live ‘safely and uninterruptedly’.

    The more freedom the internet seems, the more restrictions there are.

  3. Not only you but me also surprised that the internet has huge and much impacts on the modern society. We use it so comme in our daily life but we can hardly feel it’s power of changing. The confront of Internet and the regimes that are non-democractic is born to have conflicts. I believe that there still be many challenges with internet in the democratic societies. I can see that you have mentioned that the internet is taken advantages by both governments (I think especially the justice system, like police department or FBI) and some crime group. I have heard that in some countries that the government has set up the so called “cyberpolice” to enhance the safty of internet use. Although that migh be has only little efficiency, it is a progress in improving and building up the order of internet.

  4. You brought up that you have the experience of living in China and have no access to Facebook, Twitter and some other websites. This makes me remember that several years ago, Chinese government has closed even more internet access to some other websites, and the action has made a large group of Chinese internet users flow to Taiwanese websites (I think they choose to come to Taiwanese websites because of the language familiarity.) However, the large group of Chinese internet users flow into Taiwanese websites has caused some debate at that time. The biggest reason of the debate is that the “internet culture” and “internet idioms” that Chinese users familiar with is different from Taiwanese users. The difference between two cultures has brought up many misunderstanding and conflicts (not only about politics). In order to avoid the conflicts between two groups, some forum formulated new regulations to maintain order. What I want to say is, I think the censorship of China will not only make Chinese web users reach less information; also, the censorship might lead the Chinese internet users gradually form a different “internet culture” then other area.

  5. I actually quite like your tone in this article. It’s not like reading a science project proposal or a serious news story, you really got the essence of writing a blog 😀

    You mentioned that the Chinese government blocked facebook, youtube and twitter, but I’d like to mention here that these famous social networks all have exact substitutes in China: Renren, Youku and Sina micro blog. They all received tremendous popularity among Chinese web users. It’s an interesting phenomenon and the reason is quite simple, the Chinese governments would like everything under control. They simply blocked all those sites in the fear that the atmosphere of free speech could jeopardize their image. In contrast, every bit of information posted on the Chinese sites is being censored. Hence, it’s not uncommon to see the statement “Sorry, the requested resource is no longer available or is being deleted”. That’s just the reality and is not going to change very soon.

    • Yes you hit the point that China has taken some measurement to form the internet audience’s online habit by localizing those social media sites. I think I am exactly a “product” by this kind of block policy: I prefer Renren to Facebook, though I have a Facebook account as now I’m in US and I have access to both. I must say there’s a long way for our country to go. And these social media sites in Chinese version do help China shape its own social capital and civic involvement.

  6. My comments for this week are:


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