When Digital Democracy Comes Up Short



Media technologist and consultant Deanna Zandt’s new book is called Share This! How You Will Change the World with Social Networking. In an essay adapted from it for In These Times, Zandt reminds us that “for all the horn-tootin’ over the disruptive and democratizing potential of the Internet, we’re still seeing the Big Important Conversations dominated by the same old, same old.” Behold:

Despite the fact that women, for example, make up more than half of the active users on most social networking sites, we still usually see men served up as the expert voices on social networks, on blogs and in mainstream media. Or, even though African Americans are more likely to use Twitter than white people, white people are given the role of experts, speaking at conferences, on top 10 lists and more.

The Internet is deceptively equal. We don’t know, or we’re not willing to recognize, that we have transposed to the Internet the same social structures we’ve been living with for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years. We’re painting our understanding of the offline world—with all our prejudices, biases and hierarchies—onto the canvas of the Internet.

Source: In These Times

Image by kodomut, licensed under Creative Commons.

julie kate hanus
8/13/2010 4:55:59 PM

Of course, Deanna! The excerpt that In These Times ran is great. It's funny to see you mention that there's "good" news, too--which is fantastic, of course; it sounds super interesting. I just hadn't thought of any of it as "bad" news to begin with. A piece of writing that challenges our preconceived notions and thinks deeply about social structures, well, that's always good news to me. :)

Deanna Zandt_2
8/11/2010 2:33:38 PM

Thanks so much for mentioning my book to your readers, what an honor! You'll be relieved to know (since this is the thriving blog) that there's loads of good news in it, too, like how we're overcoming those barriers and shifting cultural consciousness through empathy. thanks again!

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