Two New Internet and Democracy Publications (and others worth reading)

Attention holiday shoppers! Still searching for the perfect (read: free) gift for the Internet thinker in your family? Look no further than two recent publication from the Internet & Democracy team, released just in time for solstice.

First, John Kelly, Robert Faris, John Palfrey and I adapted of our earlier Arabic blogosphere case study into a journal article, “Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics and Dissent Online,” which appears in the 2010 issue of New Media & Society. You can download the pdf (here) (available online as of December 21, 2010). In that article we focus on the political aspects of the Arabic blogosphere and evaluate whether it meets the conditions for a networked public sphere, as defined by Yochai Benkler.

We also wrote a short think piece on online organizing that was published this month in the SAIS Review of International Affairs. Here is the abstract from the paper, “Political Change in the Digital Age: The Fragility and Promise of Online Organizing:”

In this paper, we discuss the possible impact of digital technologies in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes. We conclude that policymakers and scholars that have been most optimistic about the impact of digital tools have over-emphasized the role of information, specifically access to alternative and independent sources of information and unfiltered access to the Internet. We argue, in contrast, that more attention should be paid to the means of overcoming the difficulties of online organization in the face of authoritarian governments in an increasingly digital geopolitical environment.

If that’s not enough to satisfy your loved ones’ reading habits during the darkest days of the year, my colleagues here at Berkman (Ethan Zuckerman, Hal Roberts, Ryan McGrady, Jillian York and John Palfrey) released this week an excellent study on DDOS attacks against human rights groups and independent media, and I also just discovered that Berkman Fellow Clay Shirky has a smart, balanced essay out in Foreign Affairs, “The Political Power of Social Media.”

Check ’em out. I hear several appear somewhere in print form as well.

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