Internet Empowers Elites or Joe Public?
I’m surprised to read that Pew finds the Internet has actually shifted more power to the educated, well-to-do citizens already engaged in the political process:
In a survey conducted in late August 2008, Pew found that only 8 percent of people with a household income of less than $20,000 had participated in two or more online political activities—emailing their representatives, donating money through a political campaign or group’s Website, or signing an online petition—in the past year, as opposed to 35 percent of those with an income of $100,000 or more. A similar 33-percentage-point gap emerged between college graduates and those without a high school degree. In other words, much to the disappointment of the report’s authors, higher-income, more educated people were just as likely to dominate civic engagement online as they were offline (click here for a graph showing this mirror effect). […]
Even at Daily Kos, an original member of the democratically dogmatic Netroots, elite users dominate the discourse. Daily Kos readers, who also post content and comments on the site, have slid comfortably into the traditional civic participation demographic: 84 percent are over 35 years old, 86 percent have gone to college, and 72 percent earn over $60,000. Twitter, the New York Times reported recently, has attracted a similar demographic of older and more professional users. Facebook, too, has drawn ever increasing numbers of 35-and-over adults, and a good majority of its users rest in the upper income bracket.
So are the battle lines now drawn between the cable & radio crowd vs. internet & social network set? Do we think that will one day change? Advantage/disadvantage one side over the other?