By Raul FernandezÂ |Â Saturday, December 9, 2006Â |Â The Washington Post
This is a very important essay about the many ways the Internet, including political blogs like MB-CIVIC and MB-HAIR, has evolved to empower individuals to become actively engaged, vocal and highly influential participants in democracy, instead of passive consumers of campaign rhetoric.Â Only the coming of television in the last century compares to it in terms of sheer impact on the American psyche and the American political system.
Internet politics promises to improve the long-term health of our democracy. It does so in a way that differs fundamentally from television:
“…while TV emphasizes perception, control and centralization, Internet-driven politics is about transparency, distribution of effort and, most important, empowerment and participation — at whatever level of engagement the consumer wants…”.
Think back to the way we all thought computers would affect us when HAIR was written:Â at that point, ‘Electronic Data Processing’Â was mentioned as one of the sinister and remorseless tools of war, mass violence and dictatorial Government Power. The emotionless, mechanical Computer (note the implied singular – a concentration of central computing power) was a dark threat to individual freedom and peace.Â It is miraculous to me how different the reality is:Â each of us has one, and it brings the world’s great libraries to our very own desks. The Personal Computer (distributed to the people, not centralized in some dark fortress) has evolved into a powerful communications machine that links us to others around the world.Â Joining billions of them together in a network rich with content is sheer empowerment, letting ordinary citizens publish as if we each had our own printing press and broadcasting tower.
It is, I think, the only one of HAIR’s dark predictions about the future – along with the spread of future Vietnam-like quagmire wars, global pollution, and mass-market government deception – that did not come true, and this Hairy Citizen is deeply grateful for that…BS