By Manuel Carrillo III
Political theorist Langdon Winner visited Cal Poly Wednesday to
host the campus forum “Our Clouded Future: Can Democracy and Mega
The forum discussed the Internet’s uncertain future as a
mainstream medium capable of leveling the playing field. Web users
now have the ability to broadcast their messages as easily as any
major media powerhouse.
According to the Web site Technorati.com, there are 63.2 million
blogs on the Internet, with 175,000 new blog posts each day.
“As far as I can tell (…) these Technorati figures do not
include tens and tens of millions of blogs that have been created
and used in China,” Winner said.
Yet, despite the continuously-growing democratic nature of the
Internet, Winner is concerned that the newer Web medium will share
a similar fate to radio and television.
“Remember how radio and television used to be the grand
democratic utility?” Winner asked.
According to Winner, the early days of television and radio were
used mainly by the public as an enhanced form of communication,
until major conglomerates seized control.
Winner recommended students “should turn off all their tubes,
now and again at least, and become visible-as I like to put it: to
show up in public.”
But Jason Selwitz, a regenerative studies graduate student
“The Internet doesn’t circumvent or replace the need for
[face-to-face] communication,” said Selwitz. “It creates a lot of
mess. [Consequently] it really reinforces the need for human
Winner also touched on the controversy of network neutrality and
its growing awareness among web users. Network neutrality refers to
a desegregated Internet where content transferred from a major
movie studio’s Web site takes no precedence over the content
transferred from a local film maker’s Web page.
Certain Web carriers are lobbying to take control of the
Internet so they can charge extra for Web sites that have a lot of
Winner implied takeover attempts involving the recent
congressional lobbying are the beginning of the end for Internet
“So far the coming of the Internet has done little to diminish
the tendency of citizens to avoid going to the polls and to view
politics with disdain,” said Winner.
Winner hopes policies involving the restriction of the Internet
will prompt people to “show up in public.”
Manuel Carrillo III can be reached by e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (909) 869-3747.
Guest Lecturer Discusses Internet’s Future
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