A couple thoughts on Coleman & Blumler
While I enjoyed Coleman & Blumler immensely, I take issue with a couple of assertions that they make:
- “The disembodied nature of online interaction benefits those who have traditionally been most silent, ignored, or disrespected within the public sphere” (29). I find this an overgeneralization — yes, some marginalized groups have found increased voice (e.g. autistics), but basing this on the psychological nature of the communicative act seems wronghead, and I doubt that anyone would consider, for example, technologists to be marginalized.
- “The fluidity of online civic and political networks militates against structures of central leadership based upon firm ideological positions. Holding together a network calls for a negotiated approach not only to day-to-day tactics, but to the very basis of group identity, strategy, and normative commitments” (126). Ok, this might be somewhat true, but lets not overstate it. Social networks are subject to a great deal of groupthink — peer-based patrolling of norms can be more confining than an authoritative model. While the authors sing the praises of Slashdot, I’m not so convinced that they’ve spent much time there. Thats a bastion of groupthink, from the stories that are posted to the responses.
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