The first panel at the Berkman Center’s conference on Internet and Democracy in Budapest, Hungary, was launched with an engaging presentation by Lance Bennett on youth civic engagement and new, participatory media. Lance clearly showed how traditional notions of what constitutes a citizen is changing. The focus today is on on lifestyle politics and affiliation rather than static membership. Some examples of youth-based, online initiatives include Puget Sound Off and Your Revolution. The latter is a Facebook application that allows you to register to vote straight from your profile. The application also allows you to invite your friends to register and to connect with other groups, projects and conversations.
Michael Xenos gave the second panel presentation on new mediated deliberation. The problems of traditional deliberation is that the “space” for dialogue is constructed with a limited role for non-experts. Michael poses the following question: how do blogs compare to traditional news outlets in terms of serving mediated deliberation? For example, amount of coverage, constructed debate and deliberative opportunities? He presented the findings from his current research that reviewed the New York Times stories on Alito and the reaction of this coverage in the Blogosphere. Using content analysis and regression analysis Michael concludes that the Times coverage appears to be “event-based” in comparison with the “information-based” nature of blog discussions. Independent patterns of discourse emerge in Blogs. Some questions for future research include: how can we compare the editorial decisions of a networked system to those made by traditional editors and news outlets? How can we further trace the indirect effects of online deliberation?
Bruce Etling gave the final presentation on the Berkman Center’s new Media Cloud Project in order to address the following research questions:
- Is there greater autonomy of the individual, and has that led to greater empowerment? (This question relates to the spirit of my blog, i.e., iRevolution)
- Have the gatekeepers really been removed, or just repalced by a new set?
- Who determines who is allowed to speak, how open is the space really?
- Has something enw occured? is a new type of political behavior made possible by the effective distributed collaboration allowed by the interent?
- How does filtering for accreditation and political relevance occur?
- Agenda setting and meme tracking: where did the story start, who started it, when?
- Amplification: when did story go viral, where, and how was it amplified; when did it die?
- Iran: what issues are allowed to be discussed in the blogsphere v newspapers?