From Publishers Weekly
In this follow up to Republic.com, his first appraisal of technology's effect on public discourse, University of Chicago Law School professor Sunstein waxes pessimistic about today's "nightmare" of limitless news and information options-and, more significantly, the limitless options for avoiding it. Gravitating toward those newspapers, blogs, podcasts and other media that reinforce their own views, citizens carefully filter out opposing or alternative viewpoints to create an ideologically exclusive "Daily Me." The sense of personal empowerment consumers gain-and subsequently equate with "freedom"-only fuels the "echo chamber" effect, which replaces a sense of democratic unity with accelerating polarization. Sunstein argues that the most obvious dangers of this effect-single-minded terrorists and hate groups who use cyberspace to communicate directly with receptive audiences-hide the more subtle and far-reaching consequences of the "growing power of consumers to 'filter' what they see": not only do diverse publics need to hear multiple voices, they also must cultivate a culture "where people actually want to hear what others have to say." This perceptive volume effectively illuminates the contradictory impulses at the heart of the citizen-consumer, demonstrating how "there can be no assurance of freedom in a system committed to the Daily Me"; though challenging and thought-provoking throughout, Sunstein's chapter of partial solutions proves underwhelming.
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Praise for Republic.com
raises important and troubling questions about the effects of the Internet on a democratic society."--Stephen Labaton, New York Times Book Review
"In this follow up to Republic.com
, his first appraisal of technology's effect on public discourse, University of Chicago Law School professor Sunstein waxes pessimistic about today's 'nightmare' of limitless news and information options--and, more significantly, the limitless options for avoiding it....This perceptive volume effectively illuminates the contradictory impulses at the heart of the citizen-consumer."--Publishers Weekly
is a refreshing counter to overly optimistic perspectives on the internet and democracy, and Sunstein turns Utopian visions of the internet enabling individuals to gain access to exactly what they are interested in--'The Daily Me'--into a critical assessment of its potential for undermining democratic discourse."--William Dutton, Times Higher Education
"[Sunstein] argues persuasively that the fragmented market for communications, which may cater to the desires of consumers, is harmful to the development of informed and moderate citizens because it limits or even makes impossible exposure to unsolicited, diverse, and occasionally unwelcome views, all of which are necessary in democracies....This book is a splendid antidote to the views of the utopian populists who equate democracy with information choice provided over the internet."--B. Cooper, Choice
Praise for Republic.com
: "Cass Sunstein sounds a timely warning in this concise, sophisticated account of the rise of the internet culture. He argues that it is our very ability to wrap ourselves in our own tastes, views, and prejudices with the aid of technology that constitutes a real threat to the traditional democratic values."--Peter Aspden, Financial Times
"By its nature, Sunstein argues, the Web fragments us into ever-smaller niches. In this way, for all of its incredible, information-sharing connectivity, the Web can be isolating, especially when groups begin to 'echo chamber' and talk only to themselves...To my mind, Sunstein has always been lucid and valuable on this topic. But despite the Web's culture-changing successes--wiring up the economy, influencing presidential campaigns--many Web advocates and bloggers still act as though they're threatened. When they're not acting triumphalist, that is. Even the lightest guidelines, in short, will be resented, particularly when our confusion of free markets with free speech has proved so profitable."--Jerome Weeks, San Francisco Chronicle
"This book, now in a substantially revised edition, remains the most effective public work depicting this debate and urging on us this proper vision of a reasonable freedom."--Charles Mathewes, Virginia Quarterly Review
"Lucid and thought-provoking, Republic.com 2.0
raises important concerns. . . . Carefully argued, well balanced, and accessible to a general audience."--Elisabeth Herschbach, Metapsychology Online Reviews