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Posts Tagged ‘Republic.com 2.0’

BLOG 12: What I Learned

The statement I am about to make would have sounded completely ridiculous to me at the beginning of the semester: Twitter has changed my life.  Before taking this class I was reluctant to join Twitter because I thought it was more or less a tool for companies to advertise or for individuals to constantly update what they had for lunch, or who they saw at the mall.  Now, I believe that Twitter is a vital resource for my participation in a deliberative democracy, as mentioned in Republic.com 2.0.  Twitter is a HUGE gateway to so many sources of information and opinion.  It allows me to stay up to date on both international and local news.  It allows me to read insightful features about the environment and education.  In consideration of our discussion of deliberative democracy, I do intentionally follow some people that I probably don’t match up with in terms of ideology.  At the same time, I think it is true that the people that I follow would probably reveal my general political leaning.  I haven’t actually tweeted anything original, I just use Twitter to get information.  Perhaps in the future I will consider offering my thoughts as an enhancement of my role in a deliberative democracy.

The most boring information that was covered in class was probably any discussion about general trends in media use.  It seems that these trends are pretty obvious at this point.  Internet and mobile media use is going up, media sources have identifiable audiences based on ideology, and older media consumers have a different political ideology than younger media consumers.  I don’t think that we spent an excessive amount of time on this and it’s probably important that these basic trends are at least mentioned every once in a while.

Overall, I would say that I learned a great deal about the development of political communication through recent history, how politics is communicated through different mediums and sources, how political communication either harms or helps the democratic process, and how I can improve my media habits to more fully realize my role as a citizen.

BLOG 12: Class Review

May 2, 2011 1 comment

This was one of the most interesting classes I have taken in my college career. As an English major, I usually find myself studying informative but antiquated literature that rarely directly relates to the current age. This class, however, was incredibly up-to-date, and I felt it truly expanded my worldview. I now feel much more politically informed than before.

I felt that the textbook we had for the class was very interesting to read, and it ended up being worth every penny of its steep price. It was interesting having different writers for each chapter so that no two readings were alike. I found Chapter 23 on the Al Jazeera effect particularly interesting.

I also appreciated the use of digital media in the class. The videos that we were both shown and required to watch were very informative, and the comedic clips we viewed on occasion were refreshing within the context of all my classes. The use of Twitter alongside our blogs was mentioned in the syllabus, and I wish we had learned to utilize it a bit more. I know absolutely nothing about the site and feel that, with a bit of guidance, it could have been used to further my experiences in the class.

As mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed the primary textbook. I also felt that The Selling of the President managed to be both informative and entertaining, and I liked how class discussion drew parallels between the 1960 and 2008 elections. Republic.com 2.0 had some of the most intriguing concepts we studied in the course, but it seemed like we could have read the introduction and maybe a few other specific chapters and still have gotten its message. I felt the text as a whole was the weakest part of the course, that a strong message was lost amongst its very dry and very redundant pages, and that we could have covered its information within one thorough reading.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this class and am truly happy that it has made me more politically aware, as I had hoped it would.

Blog 12: End of Class Thoughts

May 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Overall I think that this class was very interesting. Before I had no real  interest in following politics. After taking this class I have found myself watching the news more. I have become more politically aware of what is going on. I am glad that I took the class when I did. When we were learning about the how communication on twitter and Facebook effected politics, it was right during the Egyptian revolution. That was the perfect example of how these social media are growing throughout the world. Another topic that I enjoyed learning about was the political satire portion. I liked how we got to watch clips from The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. Those are shows that I watched before taking the class so I was excited every time we got to watch clips from these shows. The clips always pertained to what we were learning about and they made the subjects more exciting. Another big topic we covered that I really found interesting was the 1960 presidential election. I did not know much about this prior to taking the class and I feel like I have learned a lot about American politics after learning about this one election. It changed the way that Presidential candidates approach their campaigns. The thing that I fond the least interesting to learn was the Republic 2.0 book. Its not that I did not enjoy learning about blogging and things of that matter. The book was just tough to read. It was very repetitive. I am glad that we did not spend a very long time discussing it. The general information taken from the book was not bad, just the read itself. I think in the future just having certain parts of the book assigned to read would be a better approach to the Sunstein book. Overall I enjoyed almost all the topics covered in this class. I also liked how we talked about current events in class. Overall I really enjoyed the class and learned a lot over the semester.

SUSTEIN…He’s #winning

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

As a budding communication scholar, Cass Sunstein’s book Republic.com 2.0 is a book that should be understood by all communication scholars (especially one’s in development). Confession: I do not like reading. Additionally, if I am not previously interested I really do not like reading, but I must say after sitting down and forcing (yes, forcing) myself to read the first couple of chapters I understood the views, concepts, and opinions of Sustein and other cited authors. So, my initial reaction was surprise followed by a bit of enjoyment. The ideas introduced were more commonly understood than place in reference to other activities. For example, looking at polarization, or group conflict, and other areas such as sports or other entertainment – we all know those can get messy.

 

 

Is partially from my willingness to play devil’s advocate – simply put I like to prove people wrong – that my favorite part of the book is half way through when Sunstein begins to argue and disprove (or reject) the claims of views from other authors. Two things stood out to me just as they stood out to other readers. He believes that we (more directed towards the American government) should not regulate or even attempt to regulate the Internet. He goes on to further explanation that the Internet is already regulated by Lessig and that our society is built on democracy and regulating the internet, which is strongly correlated with our right of freedom of speech, would contradict the morals our nation was built upon. Sustein, yes, he is the man (#winning – check this out!).

 

 

My recommendation for this book would come from my perspective as a scholar. If not a developing communication scholar, I can honestly say they can live without the book. If one has become more interested with communication and the theories and opinions behind it, this book not only clarifies but strengthen my…to read and research a little bit more. The title of the book through me off a bit at first, but now that I have further understanding it is fitting, however, my recommendation would not come from this alone.

BLOG 10: Democracy in the “Daily Me”

April 13, 2011 1 comment

“The Daily Me” as described by Cass R. Sunstein is a phenomena by which we, today’s consumers, so narrowly customize our media, politics, and news consumption that we sow the seeds of our own destruction.

Perhaps Sunstein was not so overly dramatic about it, but his view of new media technology and its effect on the media, communication, and information environment is certainly a pessimistic one. “The Daily Me”, according to Sunstein, causes a plethora of problems including, but not limited to, a narrowing of the information environment and its diversity, decreased common ground and shared interest to act as the “social glue” in democratic societies, and providing a personalized forum for terrorists and other anti-Democratic groups looking to spread their word.

Republic.com 2.0 was certainly an interesting read, especially for a member of a generation that has virtually grown up in this “Daily Me”, personalized information environment. In the first few chapters of his book, Sunstein goes into detail about the importance of general-interest intermediary (GII) sources, such as public forums or newspapers–sources that require the consumer to consume more than just a particular brand of information. According to Sunstein, general-interest intermediary sources such as newspapers are important because the consumer cannot simply choose what he or she wants to read. In the course of reading a newspaper, the consumer is forced to at least acknowledge various news stories that she might not have otherwise chosen to read about.  Sunstein’s point in these chapters is that this exposure to a diversity of information is particularly important to democracy because it spreads knowledge, creates open mindsets, and allows citizens to connect to others despite differences.

Sunstein has a point. I enjoyed reading about GII, not only because I had never  thought about the newspaper’s role in that manner, but because he certainly has a point about the importance of exposure to diverse information. Where I fall short with him is the assumption that the internet and new media technologies do not foster similar opportunities. As any Wikipedia article-hopper can tell you, it is quite easy to expose yourself to a variety of different information online, whether or not you originally set out to do so.

The various holes in his arguments aside, there were two main problems I had with Sunstein’s book. The first is a comment on style. Sunstein often seems confused about whether he wants to express himself colloquially or pedantically. As far as style goes, Republic.com 2.0 was mostly understandable, although Sunstein’s tendency to throw in more complicated, academic subjects, written in a pedantic fashion, resulted in a book that wasn’t completely user-friendly.

“If the public is balkanized, and if different groups are designing their own preferred communications packages, the consequences will be not merely the same but still more balkanization, as group members move one another toward more extreme points in line with their initial tendencies”

serves as a stark contrast to sentences such as

“When I opened the email, I learned that the attachment was a love letter.”

While I appreciated Sunstein’s use of informal language and structure in example paragraphs, the jump between styles made the reading feel inconsistent and petulant.

The second problem I had with his book is more content-centric. While Sunstein never claims to want to provide a solution to the problem of the “Daily Me”, he spends over 220 pages outlining  a problem that he never gives a satisfying end to. “The Daily Me”, while interesting to read about and certainly relevant, is something a short paper could have sufficed to explain if Sunstein was not going to offer a plausible solution to this apparently earth-shattering problem.

His overly defensive language–he spends much of the time assuring “I have not suggested, and do not believe…” and “Nothing that I have said should be taken as an empirical argument…”–is uncomfortable enough to sift through, but add the constant repetition of themes and pessimism without mentioning counterarguments simply made the book long and his argument less credible, in my not-so-esteemed opinion.

Republic.com 2.0 definitely shed a new perspective–and a refreshing counterexample–to the ever-pervasive opinion that new media technology is good and only good, but I think the book could have been handled better. It could have been shorter, less repetitive, easier-to-read, and offered some kind of end solution so that I was not left, at the end, going “so what?”

I think to students of communications and political science, Republic.com 2.0 is a good book to offer new insight, but I would assign portions of the book, not the entire thing, to read. As for the average reader–I’m not particularly sure how much value they would glean from Sunstein and his analysis. Certainly not a bedtime story, anyway! xoxo!

Blog #10: Republic 2.0

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Review

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.

Blog 10: Republic.com 2.0

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Reaction to the book

Cass. R. Sunstein’s book, Republic.com 2.0, was a very interesting book to say the least.  I really had a tough time getting through it all because of all the tough theories that he mumbled through and the high educated vocabulary that he used.  I really thought it would be an interesting book starting with the concept of the Daily Me but then I couldn’t more wrong!  This book was way too repetitive and boring! I have no idea how I could have gotten through such a book like this.  I feel like Sunstein tried to impress his readers by the lingo and copious amounts of theories and ideas he through at us, but to me I just felt like I was not on his level and uneducated, which I find to be a little bit of a turn off.  I want to be able to actually understand and like what I’m reading, not feel like I should Google things to get a better understand of what I am reading.

What was the best part of the book?

To me, the best part of the book was the Daily Me.  That was one theory that I really understood and that I could relate to. I feel the Daily Me relates to the college student so well because it talks about all the stuff we do and visit online in our daily lives and where we get our news from and how we get it.  I think the uses of relevant Internet sites and links was really cool because I was able to visit sites that I had never heard from before like Snopes.com and Reddit.com.   Other than the Daily Me idea the best part of the entire book was being able to get a lot of good sun outside while reading this book.  I can at least say I got a little bit of a tan while reading a LONG book for class.

Worst Part of the Book

The worst part of the book was probably one of the passages in the beginning where he talks about won’t be covered in his book.

I will not provide little discussion of monopolistic behavior by suppliers or manipulative practices by them. I will not deal with the feared disappearance of coverage of issues of interest to small or disadvantaged groups. I will not be exploring the fascinating increase in people’s ability to participate creating widely available information. I will not be discussing private power over “code,” the structure and design of programs. I will not be discussing the “digital divide.”

If you’re not going to discuss this stuff in your book, why bring it up? You just wasted my time telling me about 5 pages worth of what you won’t be talking about instead of what you will talk about.  I would rather hear about what is relevant to you and what is important than what is not important and why you won’t be talking about it.  Sunstein needed to stick to topic and get to the point.  I didn’t need to waste reading that part of the book that I felt was totally not necessary.  Secondly, Sunstein was way too repetitive.  I felt like all of his ideas and topics blended together.  He made a 200+ page book that could have been probably written in maybe 150 pages tops!

Would you recommend this book to others?

I would only recommend this book to others who I knew had a deep interest and knowledge in these topics and could easily understand what Cass Sunstein was talking about.  I think if i recommended this book to a lot of people I would get a lot of grief from them for wasting their time and feeling stupid because of the language and jargon used by Sunstein.  Therefore, I would have to be really smart about who I talk about this book to.