In this book I argue that the impact of the Internet on politics can be understood by examining “network communities,” groups of people with a shared vision linked together by communications technology. The cases in the book examine the politics of such network communities triggered by the introduction of the telegraph, telephone, television, and the Internet between 1860 and 2005 in ten countries, including China, Brazil, the US, Russia, India, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Half the case studies examine political activists challenging national governments or international institutions. Half the case studies examine government policies to influence and control communications within their own countries and abroad.
Just as military might and economic strength are key sources of political power, so too are information and ideas. People with this kind of power use technology to produce, distribute, and manage their ideas with the goal of attracting others to support and participate in their cause. The book concludes not only with a discussion of how the idea of a “network community” contributes to political theory, but also with short, separate remarks drawing out implications for government officials faced with policy decisions and political activists faced with opportunities for change in this technologically shifting environment.
This is a book likely to be published in the traditional way – text on paper, bound between covers. In the meantime, the online book is a different version of the material.
- The structure is greatly simplified, my aim is that the viewer/reader should be able to move through all the main ideas in an hour or two.
- Also, primary materials from the research are posted or linked, which gives color to the case studies.
- Finally, I hope to create options on the site that allow participants to argue with me, to present their own case studies. At the end of each chapter there is a comment box for such suggestions, and any other comments you may have.
If you send in your examples and suggestions, I plan to publish your ideas on the site as possible foundations for more discussion and future directions for research.
Irene S. Wu (ireneswu at yahoo.com)
June 9, 2011