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Этот перевод – часть диплома, успешно защищенного в СПбГТУ в 2002г. Переводчик: George Присылайте ваши thanx’ы, критику и варианты перевода: email@example.com Will the Internet Be Bad for Democracy? Eli M. Noam Professor and Finance and Economics Director, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information Graduate School of Business, Columbia University Presented at the Heinz Nixdorf Computer Museum Forum Paderborn, Germany May 1999 When the media history of the 20th Century will be written, the Internet will be seen as its major contribution. Television, telephone, and computers will be viewed as its early precursors, merging and converging into the new medium just as radio and film did into TV. The Internet’s impact on culture, business, and politics will be vast, for sure. Where will it take us? To answer that question is difficult, because the Internet is not simply a set of interconnecting links and protocols connecting packet switched networks, but it is also a construct of imagination, an inkblot test into which everybody projects their desires, fears and phantasies. Some see enlightenment and education. Others see pornography and gambling. Some see sharing and collaboration; others see e-commerce and profits. Controversies abound on most aspects of the Internet. Yet when it comes to its impact on democracy process, the answer seems unanimous. The Internet is good for democracy. It creates digital citizens (Wired 1997) active in the vibrant teledemocracy (Etzioni, 1997) of the Electronic Republic (Grossman 1995) in the Digital Nation (Katz 1992). Is there no other side to this question? Is the answer so positively positive? The reasons why the Internet is supposed to strengthen democracy include the following. 1. The Internet lowers the entry barriers to political participation. 2. It strengthens political dialogue. 3. It creates community. 4. It cannot be controlled by government. 5. It increases voting participation. 6. It permits closer communication with officials. 7. It spreads democracy world-wide. Each of the propositions in this utopian populist, view, which might be called is questionable. But they are firmly held by the Internet founder generation, by the industry that now operates the medium, by academics from Negroponte (1995) to Dahl (1989), by gushy news media, and by a cross-party set of politicians who wish to claim the future, from Gore to Gingrich, from Bangemann to Blair. I will argue, in contrast, that the Internet, far from helping democracy, is a threat to it. And I am taking this view as an enthusiast, not a critic. But precisely because the Internet is powerful and revolutionary, it also affects, and even destroys, all traditional institutions--including--democracy. To deny this potential is to invite a backlash when the ignored problems eventually emerge. My perspective is different from the neo-Marxist arguments about big business controlling everything; from neo-Luddite views that low-tech is beautiful; and from reformist fears that a politically disenfranchised digital underclass will emerge. The latter, in particular, has been a frequent perspective. Yet, the good news is that the present income-based gap in Internet usage will decline in developed societies. Processing and transmission becomes cheap, and will be anywhere, affordably. Transmission will be cheap, and connect us to anywhere, affordably. And basic equipment will almost be given away in return for long-term contracts and advertising exposure. That is why