A New Republic of Letters?: The Promise and Potential of the Internet
Advances in information and communication technology seem to promise a revolution in politics. Social media appear to overcome the perceived limitations of representative democracy, allowing more direct and democratic politics less influenced by 'elites'. In this paper we note the nature of this promised revolution, arguing that e-democratic politics and its hopes of democratizing political authority have in large measure not succeeded. Social media have, however, also inaugurated a different form of e-politics, one that attempts to democratize knowledge or perhaps wisdom. Blogging, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter all provide new forms of communication and seem to promise a new Republic of Letters with revolutionary potential. Will the new Republic of Letters prove to be more successful than e-democracy? The paper examines the nature of the old Republic of Letters and its fate, and in the light of that assesses the promise of technological innovations in communication to alter the nature of modern politics.
Handbook of Research on Political Activism in the Information Age
Political Theory and Political Philosophy