Proposal #1: to examine the debate between cyber-utopians and cyber-pessimists, those who think that on balance digital media will enhance democracy and those who think it will harm the democratic process. I will outline the principle claims of each group and the principle ways each group argues against the claims of the opposite camp. I want to pursue this because it is a good way to study how new media may affect society, which I see as a potential thesis topic for next year.
Proposal #2: to review some potential future architectures of the World Wide Web (those being promoted by industry, government, interest groups), and to assess the possible effects these architectures may have on the political economy. (Is that vague-sounding? Example of a potential architecture: the audio/video components of the current system could be corralled into a ‘video-on-demand’ format.) I want to pursue this one because I am interested in the efforts being made right now to determine the future shape of the Internet. And, again, I would like to test the viability of this topic as a thesis.