Political Change in the Digital Age

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* Paper: Bruce Etling, Robert Faris and John Palfrey, Political Change in the Digital Age: The Fragility and Promise of Online Organizing. SAIS Review, Summer-Fall 2010, at 37.

URL = http://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/4609956 [1]


Abstract

"We conclude that policymakers and scholars that have been most optimistic about the impact of digital tools have over-emphasized the role of information, specifically access to alternative and independent sources of information and unfiltered access to the Internet. We argue, in contrast, that more attention should be paid to the means of overcoming the difficulties of online organization in the face of authoritarian governments in an increasingly digital geopolitical environment."


Excerpt

From the conclusion:

"The Internet has an important role in increasing information sharing, access to alternative platforms, and allowing new voices to join political debates. The Internet will continue to serve these functions, even with state pushback, as activists devise ways around state online restrictions. Conditions that contribute to success are likely determined not by the given technological tool, but by human skill and facility in using the networks that are being mobilized. … It is less clear how far online organizing and digital communities will be allowed to push states toward drastic political change and greater democratization, especially in states where offline restrictions to civic and political organization are severe. As scholars, we ought to focus our attention on the people involved and their competencies in using digitally-mediated tools to organize themselves and their fellow citizens, whether as flash mobs or through sustained social movements or organizations, rather than the flow of information as such." (http://techliberation.com/2011/01/04/book-review-the-net-delusion-by-evgeny-morozov/)