Internet and Politics Relations

The hopes and fears of the society are both presented in the power of politics. In the context of new information and technologies, the power of the internet is intensely reimaging the political process. In democratic societies, the internet played a crucial role in the shaping of politics and the political process (Agre 311). The internet plays a crucial role in delivering and supporting a pluralistic diversity of intersecting public spheres and has received criticism as a force of fragmentation. Psychological terrorism has also been a feature of the internet. The internet has played a great role in supporting other media, for example the television, radio and the newspapers. Nevertheless, there are several barriers presented by the internet as a mode of communication and expressing political concerns. One of the main purposes of the internet was to deliver the information to long distances without wires. Nowadays, the people use internet for different purposes. Political organizations use internet for wide spreading of written and oral information to partisans, different press releases and various administrative memos. All those materials are distributed among political staff. With the appearance of the Internet the intermediaries seems to be useless, especially at the political sphere.

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The implementation of the computer or information technology in the political process is not new. One of the proposals put forward in 1970s was the managerial democracy which proposed the usage of computer as “a decision-making tool by the government staffs to rationalize, professionalize, and ultimately depoliticize many of the government functions” (Agre 312).

Use of Technology, the Internet in Politics

The voting process has had application of technology, and has remained vital in the capture and aggregation of information. Digital networks have been applied in the voting process. There has been a problem with the voting process that is enabled by the internet, although it presents a number of advantages. One of the advantages is that “low voter turnout may well be alleviated by easier voting although the requirements for a sound voting process are complex” (Agre 313). One of the main problems that has appeared in the political sphere is the voting fraud. Unequal distribution of technology is one of the problems that appears in the political sphere. Some people consider this fact as the highest injustice, the others stress that there are more serious facts of injustice in political use of internet. Other advantages included avoiding other possible difficulties that may arise with other methods of voting. These include intimidation and vote buying where physical methods of voting are applied. The attention should be paid to one function that is provided by the internet, it avails the potential for individual initiative. There are a number of facts that make it possible to get the power over the society. Still, the exchange information and the internet itself is a great factor that can lead to obtaining the power at the society. Although any technology encouraging democracy in the technical capacity will be welcome, “brand names” have been said to play an important role in politics. Internet is an essential part of the politics and it helps different players to run their businesses. It does not matter whether the small or big player participates in the internet communication. The internet creates a number of conditions that negatively influence market. First of all, the internet decentralizes market and, moreover, the dictation of rules and further actions for the public policy is observed. The internet avails competition for world’s jurisdictions and therefore promotes regulatory competition among these jurisdictions. This is regardless of the fact that capital will move to “where it is wanted” and will stay “where it is well treated” (Wriston 342). Companies move to operating on a global scale because of a number of reasons. Mostly, the companies are motivated by the cost advantages that can be observed in the situation due to dilatation. Therefore, they submit to the law of every major jurisdiction. Governments are empowered by technology to exert control for example having control over the constituents without a regard for geography. Nowadays, with the help of the internet it became a reality to coordinate several political activities over a wide geographical area. All peripheral regions are integrated through communications technologies, to the political centers. Political parties synthesize political opinions and carry on with negotiations and therefore, they do not just transmit information. Some years ago technology coalitions used to control and follow the technology. Political sphere was the dominant one in technological process as thy wanted to reach their personal aims via these technologies. Still, they reduce the problematic and sometimes harmful influence of political elite of the technology development. If it was be possible to reduce the problems of the political process, a number of advantages would be observed, such as ideology and irrational conflicts. The complexity of management problems beyond the level which technological systems can admit has increased difficulty for the latter to solve these problems.

Another aspect of the use of technology is the development of governments to the extent of controlling markets, through organizations such as the World Trade Organizations. These institutions play an important role in capturing and circulating information. The capacity of the government to exert control increases with increase in use of computer networks. Internet has played a crucial role of ensuring social equality. But they have increased uncertainty and lack of trust since “nobody knows you are a dog” while on the internet (Mitchell 6). Internet communication lurks behind face to face communication since its evaluation lacks the prejudices that afflict face-to-face interactions. The internet has played a very vital role as a democratizing force and as a force to support opposition movement in several countries. The relationship between technology, and particularly the internet, and information exchange and use is more complex than meets the eye because it has to be accepted by the political culture. Technology has served a crucial role in various domains: one to help in the spread of public open information while it is being utilized as a tool for commercialization, surveillance, and propaganda; secondly, enabling the governments to keep information from becoming open. It is crucial to be aware of the social processes that function at the global network since it does not create “an entirely new political order” (Agre 315). The analysis sparks tensions between “centralization and decentralization, between intimacy and impersonality, and between politics and professionalism” (Agre 315). The internet affects several structures of the society and in different ways, and therefore it is difficult if not impossible to carry out an analysis completely. The internet has shaped thought, and language through its influence on various institutions such as rules of parliamentary order, political parties, aspects of legal systems, legislatures, among others. One of the main peculiarities of the innovative technologies is that they may present an opportunity for institutions change. The dynamics of this change can be easily found via the workings of the mentioned institutions. The innovative technologies are used to follow some goals and achieve them only in case if the institution provides them. It is impossible to say that the internet is something new. In fact, it creates nothing; its functions are based on the amplification of the existing forces. In addition, it is possible to eliminate that crucial effect of the technology that is observed for now. Understanding the forces at work in institutions can help in “to predict the consequences of widespread internet use” (Agre 315). Such analysis may be easier if the equilibriums of the institutional forms are moving. This is to have the nature of the forces revealed. The forces will be amplified differently, and will end in different directions once they begin to move. Thus the impact of the internet may not be felt when the forces are in equilibrium. Those institutions that have useful and unique information have a great power. The people who are seeking for online information about politics are the same people who happen to be interested in politics. However, there are people who have been upset “as a force for increased civic involvement” (Agre 316) because they have placed vain hopes in the internet.

The open-government revolution of the 1970s expanded the role of information in the political process. During this period, there was increasing pressure for legislatures and bureaucrats to provide rational-sounding judgments about their decisions. Think tanks emerged in response to this, with intent of producing justifications to order. The political scenario has also been met with research such as through privately funded organizations and research institutions, for example carrying research and publicizing funded organizations. It is not a secret that it is easy to research the public opinion in some greater Public opinions. This can provided by the political parties if they feel personal benefit in it and turn to the help of advanced technology and communication. This has been further enabled by the decreasing costs of these technologies.

The internet has played a crucial role in bringing a number of political parties together by enabling coordination of activities that establish relationships in a number of ways that are “moderately complex but largely routinized” (Agre 316). Two models have been focused in the analysis of technology and the political processes. These are the amplification model and the reinforcement model. Relating to the amplification model, it is crucial to mention that it is focused on the following, whether the internet decides that although it may not change anything in the political process, it may still amplify existing force; and this may latter change something. Institutional forces have the other nature. They have been amplified by the internet, for instance, via the discovery of writing which had an impact on social institutions. The internet may however have not changed political institutions in such a qualitative means. Agre has embraced the ideology of reinforcement model where he seeks to explore whether the internet has helped in having a wide range of citizens to become involved in the political process. This question applies to other information technology methods being applied at a particular time. It can be concluded that the above mentioned structure leads to reinforcement of the system rather than to its repairing. While the amplification model may help in the determination and exploration of the consequences of the changes (small and large, qualitative or quantitative), the reinforcement model may help in establishing whether a new technology has altered the polity in a particular fundamental way. While the amplification model does not close on whether the qualitative changes will be found, the reinforcement model concludes and closes (assumption) that none will be found, in the study by Agre. Since it has been mentioned that the forces within the political system might be changing, the amplification process may be used to explore how the interaction among these forces might be changing. There is an opinion that political concepts managed to change the design and the configuration of computers. Moreover, these two items (design and configurations) have a great impact on the power distribution. This was found in a study that analyzed the impact of power distribution among various political groups by the information technology. “Urban planners, financial experts, administrators and politicians” (Agre 316) were included it the group. The results, referred to as “reinforcement politics” (Kling and Kraemer 18) can be explained in the following way. The politics of local government tried to shape and form the internet sphere for dividing the power and the sphere of influence. Therefore, computing can be referred to as “conservative technology” (Kling and Kraemer 231). Nevertheless, the use of the public opinion and actions in solving problems connected with the affect of the computing on the local government could be helpful. It may happen since it would balance power relations by means of increasing the scope of public participation. There is nothing unusual that people try to increase their power and political influence. It is possible to do this if to use new organizational forms that became possible and effective wit the development of the innovative technologies (Kling and Kraemer 231). Kling and Kraemer try to light on the problem of political conflicts and the forces that are involved. The shift of powers in decentralization and centralization plays essential role there.

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The internet for now is seen as the tool which may help reorganize the political powers and influence via revolutionary methods. Still, it is already accepted that internet should not act in such a way, it should not instigating democracy. Otherwise, there are great many of other ways to achieve the desired effect. The “interaction” (Davis 5) between “official entities, interest groups representatives, and the news media” (Davis 5) play a significant role in creation, organization and reorganization of political information. The rise of the internet was predicted to cause more common public expressions and more haste response from the policy makers. There is little evidence that the internet will lead to the rise up of “unmediated political systems dominated by the initiatives of unorganized individuals” (Agre 318). Davies seems to propose that there has been no change to existing structures. Davis seems to suggest that there has been no relative change in “magnitudes among various subcategories such as the great expansion of museums and public radio or the entrenchment of newspaper” and that there have been no changes in the “introduction of new players in the existing categories such as the additional news networks on cable” (Agre 319). Political parties may exhibit different trends in the usage of technology or in the dispersion of political information since each may have their own “philosophy” (Davidowitz).

Social networking sites have become a very crucial part of the political process. This includes campaigning during the presidential primaries and general elections, for example, in the 2007-2008 general elections in the United States. An example of the social networking sites includes the Facebook and YouTube. “Radical change has resulted in the political process as these sites continue to be used in politics. This is through the airing of political opinions over these sites. Such sites offer an arena for discussing various issues affecting the country in political nature, since citizens can discuss them openly and with great freedom. The people are referred to as the “on-line citizens” (Kreiss) have come up to engage “in new forms of collective action” (Kreiss) and offer challenge to different political structures. Politics has therefore realized participatory democracy through these social networking sites, as well as the sites supplanting “gatekeepers” of the past. Several issues may require a thorough analysis in the area of political process and the internet. First, the balance of political power in the American democracy that has been changed by means of the digital media. Secondly, we need to know whether there is any influence of politics on the way we elect presidents and how we contest public issues. It is also possible to check the main function that internet performs in the relation to public agenda. Thus, the problem of whether the internet changes or impacts the journalists’ possibility to present public and political information can be considered. All these are questions that may require careful analysis. One of the ways to consider the issue is to analyze some readings, both in theoretical and empirical ways. In addition, it is necessary to look carefully at the theories of peer-to-peer collaboration and arguments. In addition, information is not valued so high any more. Furthermore, the analysis should be conducted on the influence of different factors of the reduction of the informational costs. The cost of information has fallen dramatically and the main reasons for this are media outlets and the formal political organizations. Some specialists point out that muss media in present times extend the power of those “already most influential in politics” (Kreiss) but in no way of those who are democratizing at all. Because of the dominant internet influence in unbalanced form, the conventional media is in decline in South Korea. The internet has played a big role in disseminating political information to the citizens and in order to offer an opportunity for forming political opinion. Formation of political opinion is important in participating in a political process, and to do it responsibly. The internet has built up the amount of information which has increased public awareness and educated citizenry. The better educated and male segments of the population are more likely to use the internet in Germany. However, the vast majority of the citizens in German use the Internet in different from political reasons. People are more interested in personal use of internet for communication and entertainment. In fact, political information plays a minor role in the usage of internet in Germany. There has been an argument, according to Kreiss, that instead of “politicizing” the masses, increase of PCs has performed an opposite, i.e. diverting people from the political masses. There are different results of the internet playing a great role in general elections. There is the other example that shows the difference in the presidential elections in South Korea that was phenomenal. Taking, for example, the general elections in Germany in September 2002, it should be highlighted that digital politics were not influential and did not play an urgent role there. The online-campaigners have encountered the other major problems both in Germany and other countries in the West and did not enlist their efforts for public with the aim of partisan politics leading (Meinardus). The internet has been utilized in contacting the people who have been politically converted. The internet does not really seem to increase new opportunities for participation and political mobilization as was estimated by cyber-optimists. On the other hand, gap between “politically interested and active and a majority of political dropouts” (Meinardus) has dramatically increased. Still, it is impossible to call the increase of the political concern in the internet a successful affair. The skeptics have their personal opinion on the situation. Due to the unresolved technical issues, they consider it as inadmissible to use internet in politics. Online elections have aroused the dispute in the political sphere. Some political powers consider online elections as unfair and unnecessary act. The other opinion has democracies. They support the use of the internet in elections and have come to the agreement of utilizing online-elections later in substituting the “traditional modes of voting” (Ansolabehere 1). Still, such type of elections will be possible only in case of the development of the software that “guarantees general, direct, free, equal and secret elections online” (Meinardus). Online-voting has received a challenge regarding secrecy. There are two types of determinants, social and economic, that predetermine the influence on people’s choice whether to be involved in the politics or not. There has been established a correlation between political participation and the level of education of the citizens in the aforementioned country.

Technology, the Internet and Campaigns

During the national elections of 2008 in the United States, more than half of the country’s voting population utilized the internet to get the “political news or get involved in the political process in 2008” (Vargas). According to the author, the reports were confirmed through a survey of 2254 adults who were interviewed. The internet has therefore transformed the manner in which the people consume political information but how they also interact with the political process. 45% of Americans watched the video online that was devoted to the political topics. The group included those utilizing the internet for this purpose, and those who did not utilize it for such purposes. The group consisted nearly half of all aged 18-29 years old. People had the ability to use e-mail and links to videos or blogs that were widespread among them via digital political content. The group utilizing the aforementioned means was 33%, whereas social networking sites were utilized by 52% of users. This reveals that some things as personal as having an account in the sites aforementioned can be used for political purposes. A report by Smith in Pew Internet & American Life Project gave the aforementioned details and also revealed the differences of citizen supporters participating in online campaign, between John McCain and Barrack Obama in the 2008 general election (Vargas). John McCain had 15% of supporters posting “original content in an online forum” (Vargas) as compared with followers of Obama (26%) (Vargas). There was an online gap between the two as the campaign progressed. The number of those people who regard the internet “as a major source of campaign news” increased since 2000 (Vargas). The dominant news media however, according to this survey, was television, covering 80% population distribution of political news. The television media included the liberal MSNBC, CNN, and the conservative FOX News. The number of those said to be seeking out political information online from sites sharing their point of view in 2004 increased from 33% in four years, from 2004 to 2008.

The report by Smith in Pew Internet & American Life Project utilized three metrics to identify online political users. These metrics included those using the internet to get news about politics or the campaign (about 60% in 2008), those communicating with others about politics by the use of the internet (38% of the internet users over the course of the campaign) those using specific tools such as Twitter, e-mails and instant messaging to share or receive campaign information (Vargas).

It has been considered that 6 in 10 persons (44%) visited the internet with the aim to check some political information or news in the USA in 2008, as revealed by the study. Different users accessed the internet at different times and periods, some daily, others several times, and yet others over the course of the typical day. Political news audience more than doubled since the 2000 elections as revealed in this study by Smith in Pew Internet & American Life Project. It was found in this research that the internet took a “front-and-center role within the media environment” (Smith 3). 28% of adults get news on election from the newspapers and other typed material. Thus, 26% of all adults are informed about election news via the Internet. The internet played a more important role for those under 50. The division among the population utilizing various media for politics varies with those online users utilizing the internet to achieve most of the election news being about 35% as compared to 25% of those using the newspaper. Those relying on the internet were aged between 30-49 years and 18-19 groups. The aforementioned group formed 34% of the total. Young politically-active internet users are noticed in shifting from one site to the other with specific tendency. Attending the websites without any point of view they usually move to sites that either support or match their personal political opinion. Having analyzed the survey, it can be concluded that those users who said that the political information they considered online shared their opinion, increased from 26% in 2004 to 33% in 2008 (Meinardus). Some online visitors stated that the sites they went to did not have any specific ideas. The percentage of those who held such views dropped in 4 years from 32% to 25%. The other participants of the survey mentioned that most of websites they considered doubted their personal opinion in the same way (the comparison in conducted on the political information of 2004 and 2008). There is evidence that those who support Democrats and those of Republican powers and use internet should better visit the websites that are close to their opinion (Smith 7). The percentage in the category of young online users portraying this behavior doubled to 43% from 22% and this group said that the sites they visited shared their political views. The aforementioned study also agrees that home internet users were more likely to use the internet than those using newspapers to get political news. The usage of the internet for political purposes pitied those users who desired for more political and other type of information. Internet users consider it as “distinct partisan slant” (Smith 7) in the political relation. Furthermore, the internet information got used to be non-traditional content. Along with the traditional content, a new group of informational sources, non-traditional content appeared. We regard blogs and commentary sites here. There is even a classification of the political and election suites available for users (McNutt 84). In addition, portal news also played a role as a non-traditional source for online political news. A large consumption of online political news made some users have their relationship to news content reverted to preference to visiting sites that exhibit partisan trends. This was either as a result of usage of many online political news sites or participation in a wide range of political activities. Considering the results of the research that conducted the rate of the internet use of McCain’s and Obama’s backers, it was stated that those who support McCain use the internet more that those who support Obama. More importantly, as mentioned earlier in this paper, the two (education and income) were the main predictors of internet use. Obama supporters used the internet in different purposes. Some people expressed their volunteer desire to participate in political activities, the others donated money. Still, the vast majority of users posted comments, expressing their personal opinion on the election (Smith 9).

There is evidence that internet has been utilized by political in communicating with supporters or citizen about political matters. For example, the Obamas political group sent messages to about 45% of their followers in 2008. McCain did the same for about 38% of his political like-minded people. These were some of the revelations from the Pew Internet & American Life Project mentioned earlier in this paper. The study identifies the increase of the messaging for political purposes online, the users did not just receive e-mails, but they shared the text messages among voters. The study shows that (49% of Obama supporters exchanged e-mails with each others while 29% of McCain voters also did so) (Smith 8).

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The main idea of the affair is that political parties or candidates sent messages directly to supporters. The statistics shows that 17% messages received Obama supporters and 7% of McCain supports. The study also states that one in five internet users expressed his/her personal opinion via posting their ideas, thoughts and comments on the internet. The study supported the idea that usage of online for political purposes by the young people was large, with 30% of those posting political content online being under the age of 25 years. More than a half of these were younger than 35 years of age. It is also proven that different “social networks, video sharing sites, blogs and status update services such as Twitters” (Smith 13) were closely connected with the formation of the political content. The study also looked at participation of members of cohort in political process during the 2008 general elections. More than a half of online users in every cohort participated, with an exception of the individuals aged 65 and above where less than a half participated in the process. A total of 37% of seniors used the internet as compared to 60% of all the online users in general.

It was featured in politics whether innovative technology was used to make sense of the campaign or political process. The internet boosted political and voting process during the general election in a number of ways as revealed in Pew Internet & American Life Project. These included finding out whether people were registered to vote (9% used the internet for this purpose), finding out absentee or early voting (16%), and finding out where to vote (18%). In overall, navigation of the voting process was supported by the internet, with 26% of all “wired voters” using it for these purposes (Smith 17).

There is an indication that online campaign and political participation is influenced by interest in the progress of the race of competitors, the number of people following election news, and the extent of waiting lines during polling days as a result of high turnout. There are many factors that also inspired the upswing of the political process, including a competition of candidates. For example, in the United States case, there was a high contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, and which ran well into the spring. In addition, the American politics featured the first African-American major party candidate, an open Republican primary without an incumbent running for presidency, overlap between general election and the banking sector, and a widespread dissatisfaction of citizens about the “overall direction of the country” (Smith 20). Technology was used by voters to stay up to date with the proceedings in the political scene, as well as encourage others to vote for the candidates of their choice. There is indication that 2008 experienced a growing percentage of users of various media for political purposes as compared to other electioneering years. There was an increase of the number of those who utilized online video-sharing sites from 33% in December 2006 to 52% in May 2008. Only one in ten adults used online social networking sites in 2005, and this figure rose to more than one during the span of three years. Non-voice data applications on the cell phones and digital assistants were used to communicate through the internet by more than six in ten Americans. While American politics in 2008 general election portrayed a tendency of having a younger political user audience, greater levels of income and education; political users were similar in their “demographic composition to the other groups with respect to gender, race, and geography, than the population as a whole (Smith 27). Different facilities in the internet were used either for chatting with friends about election or expressing personal opinion on the issue. For example, IM were used by 34% of instant messaging users to “talk with family members about the campaign” (Smith 27). One in ten of the 40% of those who used messages for communication on the political topics in 2008 did it on a daily basis. Online political users had an interest in establishing the candidates’ position on the issues about their voting records and information about them. This activity turned out to be one of the “most common outside of looking for election news” (Smith 29).

Works Cited

Agre, Philip. “Real Time Politics: The Internet and the Political Process.” The Information Society 18 (2002). Print.

Ansolabehere, Stephen. “A Future for Electronic Voting.” The Tobin Project. 2006. Web.

Davidowitz, Amos. “The Internet and the Transformation of the Political Process: MAPAM, a Case Study.” In Proceedings of the INET ’96 Conference. 1996. Web.

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Davis, Richard. The web of politics: The Internet’s impact on the American political system. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999. Print.

Kling, Rob, Kraemer, Kenneth L., Danziger, James N. and William H. Dutton. Computers and politics: High technology in American local governments. New York: Columbia University Press. 1982. Print.

Kreiss, Daniel. “Syllabus: Digital media and the political process.” Stanford University. 2009. Web.

McNutt, John G. “Elections and the Internet Resources for Research and Political Action.” Social Policy Journal 4.2 (2005): 83-87. Print.

Meinardus, Ronald. “The political impact of the internet.” Business World Internet Edition. 2003. Web.

Mitchell, William J. City of bits: space, place, and the infobahn. MIT Press, 1996. Print.

Smith, Aaron. “The Internet’s Role in Campaign 2008.” Pew Internet & American Life Project. 2009. Web.

Vargas, Antonio. “More than half of Americans using the internet for political news and activities.” The Washington Post. 2009. Web.

Wriston, Walter B. “Dumb networks and smart capital.” Cato Journal 17.3 (1999): 333–344. Web.

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