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Re: <nettime> Hurray! The Internet WON the Election!
Claire Pentecost on Sun, 7 Nov 2004 22:17:09 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Hurray! The Internet WON the Election!


Quoting Newmedia {AT} aol.com:

> the Internet is appropriate
> for expressing oneself as an "individual" (i.e. fairly petty and largely
> irrational outbursts of "opinion.")
>
>   People may not want to hear
> it but the Internet is fundamentally a swarm of individualized "bias" and
> "prejudice" -- by its essential nature.

This seems a pretty narrow analysis of the full range of what actually can 
and does happen via the internet. Certainly there is plenty of 
individualized blow on the net, but you neglect a couple of factors that 
make that much more than what it seems:

not only are there countless people sounding off on the net, there are 
countless people reading, listening, absorbing and perhaps even modifying 
their own views. While i wouldn't elevate this exchange to be anything 
like a real dialogue in most cases, the fact that, unlike broadcast tv and 
radio, net flows both ways, does make a difference. One is much more 
likely to get feedback on one's publicized opinion and there may even be 
an audience for the exchange and they too weigh in, so it can be a much 
more complex dynamic than the rain of "irrational outbursts of opinion" 
you describe. Unlike centralized media there are effectively limitless 
sources of different kinds of "predjudice" as well as the prejudicial 
information used to justify it, so validation of or refutation of almost 
any opinion on the matter can be found. Also you ignore all the 
info-bias-relay points on the net that represent a social unit more than 
individual, in many cases broadcasting opinion and analysis reflecting the 
process, consideration, and debate of collective thought.

The question is then how many people actually tap the range of opinions 
and arguments out there rather than just going to the net to have their 
biases assured. It would seem that was the case in this election, where 
despite my protests here about the "essential" nature/potential of the 
internet, i have to agree with you in this: the differences between the 
reds and blues were so obdurate that to the degree they used or responded 
to any media it was to reinforce their positions. (I do this myself all 
the time.) But in this I don't think the net was any different from tv or 
radio.

>> In this regard, it is very different from television.  This election 
>> was the first in which the Internet won and television lost.

I'd be interested to know what makes you think this. I wonder if either 
media really played a deciding role -in terms of ads and opinions rather 
than organization-- around the campaigns. TV has certainly been good to 
Bush because so many of his supporters respond to him on a gut level ("the 
way he walks, the way he talks, the way he points..."). Having done some 
door-knocking for A.C.T. in pretty conservative working class and also 
affluent neighborhoods in wisconsin, i found that the people who were for 
bush or leaning that way were either basing their vote on one issue (the 
more aggressive spectacle against terrorism or the more pious privileging 
of the unborn), or they said flat-out that they weren't basing their vote 
on issues. The born-again christians in my family confirm this inability 
to be influenced by any information -- facts, no matter how well 
documented are irrelevant because it's about faith and for a born-again 
that is a point of pride.

The internet certainly played a role in facilitating contact and 
organization for all the 527 activity. In terms of changing opinions, i 
would agree with you that in this case it was mostly a retrencher, but 
that doesn't exhaustively define the nature of the internet. Given this, 
I'm still not sure how you figure that the internet won the election, but 
would be interested... I guess tv "won" more revenue than any previous 
election, but "lost" in that it didn't seem to change any minds. The net 
"won" i think having set up more organizing networks for the left-center, 
which, although unable to elect kerry, may be useful in future battles.

very curious,
claire




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