BLOG 10: Sunstein’s Republic.com 2.0
In my opinion, Cass Sunstein’s Republic.com 2.0 is much too repetitive for any average (or even scholarly) person to enjoy reading. Sunstein draws some meaningful conclusions from his theories about the implications of new and emerging technologies and information communication and what this means for free speech and democracy, but by the end of the book (if the reader can make it to the end of the book) the same theories and conclusions have been re-stated so many times that upon finishing the book the reader may never want to hear of Sunstein or his theories again. Perhaps the reason for all the repetition though is to clearly state how new technologies are changing the way people and communicate information and the consequences of these changes for our democratic system. After all, that is in extremely important, relevant, and (usually) interesting topic.
KEY POINTS & Quotes
The main points Sunstein makes in Republic.com 2.0 (which become apparent within the first few chapters of the book) are:
1. Citizens should be exposed to info that they would not seek out themselves.
“I do contend that in a democracy deserving the name, lives should be structured so that people often come across views and topics that they have not specifically selected.“
2. Citizens need range of common, shared experiences so they can understand each other.
“I will emphasize the risks posed by any situation in which thousands or perhaps millions or even tens of millions of people are mainly listening to louder echoes of their own voices. A situation of this kind is likely to produce far worse than mere fragmentation.“
Highs and Lows
The best part of the Sunstien book was the end. Just kidding. The actual best part of Republic.com 2.0 was learning about the important and major implications our new technologies and communication methods have for our society and our democracy. I don’t think many people think about how increased dependence on sharing and getting information through social media and other personalized, on-line sources can make a difference in the democratic values held by our society. In reverse, I don’t think many people often think of a democratic society’s responsibility to create a media/information environment that is healthy for democracy. Sunstein certainly provides many points that should be considered as our society moves toward increased reliance on technology and ‘personalized’ information. The worst part of the book was definitely the repetition. If Sunstein would have written Republic.com 2.0 in a more succinct fashion the book, full of all his theories, conclusions, and recommendations for society, would be both important and interesting.
More reviews on Sunstein’s Republic.com 2.0 HERE