The Internet, Capitalism & Democracy
Remember the information superhighway and all the hype about the Internet? The wonders of the Digital Age would be liberating. A utopian bliss was at hand. Now it sometimes looks more like a dystopia. A handful of monopolies dominate the Internet. Google garners 97% of the mobile search market. Microsoft’s operating system is used by 90% of the world’s computers. Capitalism has colonized cyberspace, spurred the collapse of journalism, independent bookstores and many, many jobs. The sharp decline in antitrust enforcement of violations, the increase in patents on technology and proprietary systems, and massive subsidies have turned large parts of the Internet into an electronic shopping mall. And worse, it has become an unparalleled apparatus for government and corporate surveillance thus further eroding democracy. Activists are attempting to reclaim the democratizing potential of the Internet before the door slams shut.
Robert McChesney teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of many books including Digital Disconnect. He is co-author with John Nichols of Dollarocracy. He is the co-founder of Free Press, a national media reform organization. The Utne Reader listed him among its “50 visionaries who are changing the world.”