Blog #10: Republic 2.0
Republic.com 2.0 by Cass R. Sunstein provides an interesting perspective on how greater access to information may limit the news the take in to only a single perspective. Partisanship seems increasingly prominent in American politics and Sunstein attributes this to the emergence of extremely partisan political blogs. People are being too narrow-minded and not taking full advantage of the possibilities new technologies. I thought Sunstein provided a interesting perspective that most of us can probably learn from. The book did drag on too long though and by the end I was tired of hearing the same thing over and over. Probably just a shorter book was the way to go. Anyway though, Sunstein highlights how much communication is changed by new technologies and this was one of the best points he made in the book. Information choices limit they information we receive because we can filter to just the news we want to hear. That is a problem for our society. If you only see one side of the world, how can you fully understand it. I would easily suggest the book for any Political Communication class because it is important for people to see how the blogosphere is affecting them. I probably wouldn’t suggest it to a friend though just because it is so tough to get through at the end.
Best Part of the Book
The best part of the book for me was when Sunstein discussed the idea of the public forum in chapter 2. It was interesting to read about the connection between free speech and the opportunities it creates for people. As the author describes,
A distinctive feature of the public-forum doctrine is that it creates a right of speakers’ access, both to places and to people. Another distinctive feature is that the public-forum doctrine creates a right, not to avoid governmentally imposed penalties on speech, but to ensure government subsidies of speech.
Free speech has allowed citizens to protest whatever they please on parks and street. This is a transition into showing how this free speech has now shifted to the limitless capabilities of the Internet. Forums and blogs are all over on the Internet that allow people to express their opinions and it is only a click away. I just found it very interesting how being in a country with free speech allows people to protest and express themselves everyday. We are lucky to have this opportunity and now the Internet is transcending that luxury. People are not utilizing all perspectives enough though. As Suntein says the are trapped in their “information cocoons”.
The Worst Part of the Book
The worst part of the book for me was I felt like Sunstein had a very cynical perspective on the individuals in our country. How doesn’t account for the people who, like me, enjoy viewing all sides of the issue to get a better understanding of it. I understand that he is trying to convey that the advancement of new technologies allow people to filter their information, but I feel there are many people who still don’t do this. It is quotes like this that I just did not understand:
No shift should be expected from people who are confident and they know what they think, and are simply not going to be moved by what they hear from other people. People of this sort will not shift by virtue of any changes in the communication market.
Some of Cass Sunsteins opinions I found very intriguing and a unique perspective. But there were others such as this I did not agree with. Get a better understanding of the author Cass R. Sunstein, who now works for the Obama administration from the clip below.