Miller Center

National Discussion and Debate Series
Internet and Democracy

In less than a generation, the Internet has altered the daily lives of individuals in ways few would have conceived in its nascent stages. Initially a playground for the computer savvy, the world of blogs and tweets has given equal voice to anyone with a computer and a web connection. It is also where Americans increasingly look for news and information—according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, last year the Internet surpassed newspapers as the source of national and international news, nearly doubling from the year before. Barack Obama channeled the power of the Internet to reach millions during his presidential campaign, and his administration has launched innovative methods to use the Internet to govern.

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Participants

Resolved: Democracy is threatened by the unchecked nature of information on the Internet.

Paul Solman
Paul Solman has been a business, economics and occasional art correspondent for PBS NewsHour since 1985. He answers viewer questions on The Business Desk. He is also the presenter for and author of "Discovering Economics with Paul Solman," a series of videos distributed by McGraw-Hill. Solman is part of a national consortium to teach "Financial Literacy" to Americans at every educational level. His work has won various awards, including several Emmys, two Peabodys, and a Loeb award.

Andrew Keen is a Silicon Valley based entrepreneur, broadcaster and writer. He was the founder of the music website Audiocafe.com and a co-founder of the next generation video network NOW.tv. He is the author of Cult of the Amateur: How the Internet is Killing Our Culture. His second book, entitled Digital Vertigo: Anxiety, Loneliness and Inequality in the Social Media Age, will be published in 2011 by St. Martin’s Press.

Jimmy Wales is a U.S. Internet entrepreneur and wiki pioneer who is best known as the founder of Wikipedia, an international collaborative free content encyclopedia on the Internet, and the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content. He is co-founder of Wikia, Inc., a privately owned free web hosting service. Wales is a Fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

Farhad Manjoo is a technology columnist at Slate magazine, and a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Time, and Fast Company. He is also a regular on-air contributor for National Public Radio. Manjoo is the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, which argues that digital technology is helping society abandon facts in favor of ideology. Prior to joining Slate in 2008, he wrote for Wired News and Salon.com.

Micah L. Sifry is co-founder and editor of the Personal Democracy Forum, a website and annual conference that covers the ways technology is changing politics, and TechPresident.com, a group blog on how American politicians are using the web and how the web is using them. Sifry has written or edited five books, including Rebooting America, an anthology of writing on how the Internet and new technology can be used to reinvent American democracy.

Research and Scholarship

White Paper

Is Democracy Threatened by the Unchecked Nature of Information on the Internet?

Bruce A. Williams, University of Virginia
April 2010

In the last quarter century, the way Americans find out (or fail to find out) about the world around them has changed dramatically. Twenty-five years ago, 75% of those watching television viewed one of the three nightly network news broadcasts and over 70% of households took a daily newspaper. Television was the most trusted source of news… Read more

Project on Media & Governance

Old Media, New Media and the Challenge to Democratic Governance

March 2010

The Miller Center’s Project on Media and Governance recently released a report, following its work over the past year, with initial findings examining the impact that changing media, including shrinking newsrooms and the move to online sources, may have on the democratic governance of our country. Read more

Governing America in a Global Era

Deliberative Democracy and the Internet

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Jennifer Petersen, James Fishkin, Sidney Milkis
September 25, 2009

At a time when public officials, interest groups, civic associations, and corporations are seeking to strengthen ties with the public online, what role does the internet play in enhancing or diminishing self-government? This public panel, the plenary session for the Humanities and Technology Association Annual Conference, was moderated… Read more

Scripps Library and Multimedia Archive

Resources on the Media and Politics

The Miller Center's Scripps Library and Multimedia Archive is collecting materials on U.S. Public Policy. Below are selected links on the intersection of the media and politics.