Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
1 November 2004

It seems – contrary to suggestions made earlier by Cass Sunstein in Republic.com and “essays”:http://bostonreview.mit.edu/BR26.3/sunstein.html (and by many others) – people using the Internet don’t tend to just get more political information that agrees with their previously-held beliefs – they are better informed about both sides than their offline counterparts – at least according to the latest report based on a large scale survey from the excellent “Pew Internet & American Life Project”:http://www.pewinternet.org/.

Before you say ‘well that is just because Internet users are on average better educated or of higher social status’ (as I admit I was tempted to do) they found:

Simply being an internet user, controlling for demographic factors such as gender and education, as well as the other factors already discussed, increases the likelihood that a person has heard more arguments about a candidate.

This seems quite persuasive to me but I doubt this argument will go away in a hurry!


  1. It’s good news if non-blogging internet users (surely an overwhelming majority) aren’t filtering news as brutally as some fear.

    But I don’t think that negates the echo chamber fear, which I think refers to bloggers rather than internet users in general. I think the idea that blogs suppress dissent by amplifying the herd instinct (which I discuss here: http://www.stephennewton.com/2004/10/blogging-fad-thats-peaked.html) stands.

    The blogosphere, a tiny part of the internet, may still be an echo chamber.

    Comment by Stephen Newton — 2 November 2004 @ 10:41 am

  2. Adding to this, I’ve just come across this:
    which, if I read it right, suggests that blogs have a different structure to the rest of the web; that they may not be integrated with non-blog websites.

    Comment by Stephen Newton — 2 November 2004 @ 2:15 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.