What happens to democracy and free speech if people use the Internet to listen and speak only to the like-minded? What is the benefit of the Internet's unlimited choices if citizens narrowly filter the information they receive? Cass Sunstein first asked these questions in 2001's Republic.com. Now, in Republic.com 2.0, Sunstein thoroughly rethinks the critical relationship between democracy and the Internet in a world where partisan Weblogs have emerged as a significant political force.
Republic.com 2.0 highlights new research on how people are using the Internet, especially the blogosphere. Sunstein warns against "information cocoons" and "echo chambers," wherein people avoid the news and opinions that they don't want to hear. He also demonstrates the need to regulate the innumerable choices made possible by technology. His proposed remedies and reforms emphasize what consumers and producers can do to help avoid the perils, and realize the promise, of the Internet.
Richard H. Thaler is a pioneer in the fields of behavioral economics and finance.
Although his first writings on behavioral economics appeared in 1980, Thaler became more prominent between 1987 and 1990 when he wrote a regular column called “Anomalies”, published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. In his column he wrote on a myriad of subjects that illustrated the ways in which human behavior seemed to violate traditional economic theories. These columns were later published in the collection The Winner’s Curse.
Daniel Kahneman later cited his joint work with Thaler as a “major factor” in his receiving the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Commenting on the prize, he said, “The committee cited me ‘for having integrated insights from psychological research into economic science’. Although I do not wish to renounce any credit for my contribution, I should say that in my view the work of integration was actually done mostly by Thaler and the group of young economists that quickly began to form around him.”
Thaler is currently the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics, and Director of the Center for Decision Research, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago. He previously taught at Cornell University and MIT.
Cass R. Sunstein specializes in constitutional law, regulatory policy, and economic analysis of law. In the academic world, he is by far the most cited law professor in the United States. He has also written for many popular newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The American Prospect, Time, Harpers, and The New Republic. He has also appeared on many national television and radio shows, including Nightline, Fox News, the ABC Evening News, the NBC Evening News, 20/20, the News Hour, The O’Reilly Factor, and Fresh Air.
Sunstein graduated in 1975 from Harvard College and in 1978 from Harvard Law School magna cum laude. After graduation, he clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. Before joining the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School, he worked as an attorney-advisor in the Office of the Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations, including Ukraine, Poland, China, South Africa, and Russia. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Mr. Sunstein has been Samuel Rubin Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia, visiting professor of law at Harvard, vice-chair of the ABA Committee on Separation of Powers and Governmental Organizations, chair of the Administrative Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools, a member of the ABA Committee on the future of the FTC, and a member of the President's Advisory Committee on the Public Service Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters.
Mr. Sunstein is author of many articles and a number of books, including Republic.com (2001), Risk and Reason (2002), The Cost-Benefit State (2002), Why Societies Need Dissent (2003), The Second Bill of Rights (2004), Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle (2005), and Worst-Case Scenarios (2007). He is now working on various projects involving the relationship between law and human behaviorread more
The outline of the book pose some very interesting questions regarding how democracy and citizenship relates to the increasing level of personalization and customization made possible by the advancement of information processing technology. While it is apparent that the author have a strong legal background, he clearly lack an understanding of not only how the Internet works but how it is reshaping our information consumption. The result is a book that is poorly researched in general and embarrassingly so in particular when it comes to computer security and intellectual property issues.The language is strict and academic to the point of being unpleasant to read due to the lack of flow.read more
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The counterintuitive claim that the Internet causes us to become more extremist and close-minded, rather than exposing us to a haphazardly unbiased array of unexpected viewpoints, is the cornerstone of this challenging and dense book. University of Chicago legal scholar Sunstein (Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech) contends that we are witnessing a decline in the influence of "general interest intermediaries" and an increase in highly specialized forums for information Web sites that allow us to "personalize" the news, customized cable TV channels devoted only to fashion, music, sports or other specialized subjects. In such a culture, he argues, we have the seductive ability to see only what already interests us and to filter out any exposure to the different concerns and political opinions of fellow citizens, inadvertently robbing ourselves of a truly democratic conversation. Sunstein posits that the solution to this self-imposed intellectual isolation lies in the seemingly unpalatable but potentially workable realm of government regulation creating cyberspace "town halls," requiring political Web sites to provide links to groups with opposing views. Sunstein's critics will counter that most mainstream media outlets, owned by an increasingly small number of corporate conglomerates, don't provide their audience with a diverse range of programming in the first place. But this will not stop them from finding Sunstein's arguments complex and thoughtful. (Mar.) Forecast: This slim, sleek volume perfectly designed to appeal to Internet-era attention spans will attract browsers, while Sunstein's controversial claims and a national tour will likely garner him some media attention. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved