Internet and Democracy: National Discussion and Debate Series

Internet and Democracy: National Discussion and Debate Series

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.

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

Arguing for the resolution:

Andrew Keen is a Silicon Valley based entrepreneur, broadcaster and writer. He was the founder of the music website and a co-founder of the next generation video network 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.

Farhad Manjoo is a technology columnist at Slate magazine, and a frequent contributor to The New York TimesTime, 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

Arguing against the resolution:

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.

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, 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.


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.