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The Myth of Digital Democracy

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ISBN-13: 978-0691138688
ISBN-10: 0691138680
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Paperback, November 16, 2008
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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2009 Donald McGannon Award for Social and Ethical Relevance in Communications Policy Research, awarded by the Donald McGannon Communications Research Center

Winner of the 2010 Goldsmith Book Prize (Academic Book)

"Both utopian and dystopian interpretations have been made of the Internet's influence on many spheres of life--and democracy is no exception. . . . Absent from much of this debate is evidence-based analysis of the effects of the Internet on the business of politics. Many theories have been built on nothing more than anecdote, inference and assertion. In The Myth of Digital Democracy, political scientist Matthew Hindman fills important gaps in the evidence base, and does so accessibly."--Richard Allan, Nature

"[T]here is much in Hindman's book that is persuasive, counterintuitive, and important to understanding the moment."--Matt Bai, Democracy: A Journal

"Matthew Hindman's The Myth of Internet Democracy is one of the first significant efforts to bring data to bear on the relationship between the internet and democracy. He argues against the journalists and pundits who have made sweeping claims about the internet's transformative potential for democracy, and suggests that the new online bosses are not very different from the old ones. Unlike earlier sceptics, however, he has some data to support his claims."--Times Higher Education

"This is a well written short book about one aspects of online politics, namely who gets read and heard when it comes to online political debate, which I recommend to any reader interested in the relation between the internet and democratic values. The book is well organized and most of content is accessible to a general readership."--Olle Blomberg, Metapsychology Online Reviews

"Hindman convincingly challenges seemingly sensible claims that online communications are expanding public voice, weakening gatekeeper power, and engaging broader swaths of the citizenry in politics. . . . By bringing new data and methods to bear in a serious critique of what were becoming consensus views about the Internet's role in public life, Hindman offers more than just another set of volleys over the net of ongoing academic debates."--John Kelly, Perspectives on Politics

"The Myth of Digital Democracy . . . make[s] a significant contribution to the scholarship on e-democracy."--Wendy N. Wyatt, Journal of Mass Media Ethics

"Hindman's The Myth of Digital Democracy makes it possible to visualize the whole elephant. Comprehensiveness and rich data support Hindman's central claim about inegalitarian outcomes of the interactions of Internet and politics, and provide an excellent starting point for future research."--Meelis Kitsing, Journal of Politics

From the Back Cover

"An outstanding combination of theoretical and empirical work. Hindman has produced one of the very few best books, ever, on the relationship between the Internet and democracy. Indispensable reading."--Cass R. Sunstein, author of 2.0

"Hindman provides a serious, informed, and methodologically conscientious argument in favor of the position that the Internet has not fundamentally changed the elitist and concentrated structure of the public sphere typical of mass media. He produces significant evidence against both fears of fragmentation of discourse and hopes that we are seeing a more egalitarian and democratic networked public sphere. The contribution is important, and anyone working in this area will have to contend with his data and analysis."--Yochai Benkler, Harvard University

"Many authors make claims about the Internet and politics on the basis of some piece of the problem--by looking just at Web sites or blogs, or by examining link structure, or evaluating some aspect of campaigns for office. Hindman has drawn together many pieces of the puzzle into a coherent whole. This is an ambitious book, and it delivers."--Bruce Bimber, University of California, Santa Barbara

"This book makes a significant contribution to the study of political communication. Hindman's approach provides an extensive and multifaceted view of online political content, its producers, and its audiences. This book breaks new ground in important ways, and is likely to become a modern classic in the field of the Internet and politics."--Diana Owen, Georgetown University


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (November 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691138680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691138688
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read in threes and fours, this book is part of the set that includes SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa and Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful.

This book educated me. It challenged and soundly negated some of my assumptions, but it also reinforced my view that the Internet at this time is a communications network, not a knowledge network or an action network.

Here is the last paragraph:

"Yet where the Internet has failed to live up to its billing has to do with the most direct kind of political voice. If we consider the ability of ordinary citizens to write things that other people will see, the Internet has fallen far short of the claims that continue to be made about it. It may be easy to speak in cyberspace, but it remains difficult to be heard."

Totally awesome. This is an impressive piece of work. At Phi Beta Iota I am posting four web diagrams showing top news and political sites and a couple of other things (I no longer post images to Amazon after they removed 354 images as a lazy way of censoring twelve copies of Obama-Bush sharing the same face--I no longer trust Amazon with my work, hence Phi Beta Iota--and a lesson about Internet abuse).

Behind this elegant book is a great deal of hard work with lots of math, lots of elbow grease, and lots of time spent making sense of massive amounts of data. I am totally impressed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By oded on June 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Hindman's research brings solid data that describes web traffic and voice distribution. Yet his conclusions sometimes seem predetermined. Does the dispersion of voice among a multitude of small blogs proves that they are irrelevant? Or does it prove that voice is indeed distributed? It seems that Hindman is measuring the new media according to old media logic. He ignores outlets that reach less than 1% of the readers and uses this as proof that big outlets still dominate the market, even though he himself acknowledges that they cover only 20% of the readership, and that if we are to under stand the reading habits of the top 50% of readers (top as in reading the top read websites) we have to widen our view to include the top 500(!) outlets. One cannot ignore the feeling that Hindman had a certain conclusion in his mind before writing this book, and that his interpretation of the data is somewhat biased due to that. Still, it is an interesting book for whoever is looking for a simple review of current trends in online political participation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Seth Horning on June 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's not what we think. Most of us use the internet for porn apparently. I think the book was a fascinating, if not depressing, look at how we use the Internet and whether it is truly living up to the hype of making us better informed and more active citizen participants in our governments.
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