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Freedom of Speech and Segmenting the Citizens
Unformatted Document Text:  ICA-10-10582 19 g) Internet, Public Sphere and Cyber-Balkanization The technological promise of the Internet has lured many into believing that the Internet would expand the prospects of democratic deliberation. Kang (2000) for example, claims that the Internet could be mobilized so as to enable contact between racial groups, which would not otherwise interact with each other due to geographic and other forms of segregation. Similarly, Putnam argues that communication on the Internet may enable the formation of groups on the basis of interest rather than shared space (172). Putnam also argues contends that unlike interactions in real life communities, individuals in virtual communities have a greater prospect of overcoming factors such as differences in age, race and income. Such communities would thereby become more heterogeneous. While the Internet can be perceived to have the potential to decrease the limitations posed by geographical location, it should also be noted that the use of information systems for the purposes of clustering individuals into groups poses an important threat to the realization of this potential (Gandy, 2001; 147). Indeed, the Internet, when compared to the real space, is a much more efficient venue in which finely grained information about individuals can be collected. Unlike public spheres in real space, an individual’s discussions in the virtual public sphere are much more likely to be recorded and saved. While the coding of such information constitutes an important challenge, the political strategists have already begun utilizing the data generated from the virtual public spheres as a means of segmenting the citizens (Gandy, 2001, p.151). The implication of such use of data gathered from the virtual public spheres is that the Internet will increasingly become a medium that, at the very least, replicates the dynamics of group polarization. This tendency is recognized by Putnam (2000), who names such group polarization in cyberspace as Cyber-Balkanization (177). h) Awareness Paradox: The Exclusion of the Targeted

Authors: Popescu, Mihaela. and Baruh, Lemi.
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ICA-10-10582
19
g) Internet, Public Sphere and Cyber-Balkanization
The technological promise of the Internet has lured many into believing that the
Internet would expand the prospects of democratic deliberation. Kang (2000) for example,
claims that the Internet could be mobilized so as to enable contact between racial groups,
which would not otherwise interact with each other due to geographic and other forms of
segregation. Similarly, Putnam argues that communication on the Internet may enable the
formation of groups on the basis of interest rather than shared space (172). Putnam also
argues contends that unlike interactions in real life communities, individuals in virtual
communities have a greater prospect of overcoming factors such as differences in age, race
and income. Such communities would thereby become more heterogeneous.
While the Internet can be perceived to have the potential to decrease the limitations
posed by geographical location, it should also be noted that the use of information systems
for the purposes of clustering individuals into groups poses an important threat to the
realization of this potential (Gandy, 2001; 147). Indeed, the Internet, when compared to the
real space, is a much more efficient venue in which finely grained information about
individuals can be collected. Unlike public spheres in real space, an individual’s discussions
in the virtual public sphere are much more likely to be recorded and saved. While the coding
of such information constitutes an important challenge, the political strategists have already
begun utilizing the data generated from the virtual public spheres as a means of segmenting
the citizens (Gandy, 2001, p.151). The implication of such use of data gathered from the
virtual public spheres is that the Internet will increasingly become a medium that, at the very
least, replicates the dynamics of group polarization. This tendency is recognized by Putnam
(2000), who names such group polarization in cyberspace as Cyber-Balkanization (177).
h) Awareness Paradox: The Exclusion of the Targeted


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