Thursday, April 08, 2004

Anna's weekly questions...

1. In chapter three, Norris talks about how on-line activity represents a "reflection, rather than a transformation." The Web accentuates populations already on-line rather than drawing people in from off-line. She attributes this to a number of reasons: access, literacy, government, etc. The cyber-optimists would argue that the web still has the potential to involve people. In terms of political activity, what does motivate people? Is it ease of activity? Is it being personally affected by a political issue? Is it peer involvement? Web enthusiasts do report that people are becoming politically active through the web who have not been active previously. It would be interesting to know how much the political climate of the country is affecting that in comparison with how Web access factors into the equation.

2. Norris mentions that most e-government web activity is top-down oriented. Since the book was written, blogs have come into fashion and present a bottom-up outlet for citizens. Blogs are all the rage in the current presidential campaigns. Do you think they are a fad? How seriously is their content taken by candidates? I don't follow any of them, but the secondary information I read implies that despite their popularity, the ranting of the bloggers and amount of information is overwhelming. Will they be effective tools for the average citizen to have their concerns heard?

3. I found it interesting how the mass appeal of Zapatistas' Subcomandante Marcos factored into the Zapatista movement. As Froehling describes, "[his traits were] picked up and swiftly circulated through e-mail and Web sites across national and ideological boundary lines." Contrast this with some of the brutal realities of the movement--death and displacement. Froehling writes, "Displace war into cyberspace, and these details retreat." How did cyber-communication influence the Marcos spin on the Zapatista movement? Would this have happened in a pre-cyber media environment?

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