When Lotus Corp. announced a marketing database of 120 million U.S. consumers, the resulting roar of protest led to the project's cancellation. A similar outpouring of protest about the Clipper Chip as a proposed encryption standard for telephones and fax machines failed to prevent government endorsement. In this book, Laura Gurak goes beyond an exploration of the online controversies and even beyond the question of why one protest succeeded while the other failed. She uses these conflicts to examine her real interest: the nature of persuasion online, showing how urgent issues seem to form in two stages in Internet discourse--first as a broad area of general concern, then as a cause focused on a significant event.
She goes on to examine the role of inaccuracies and flaming in online debate, including the tendency of readers to find online information more believable than may be warranted. A brief chapter discusses the role of gender in online discussion in terms of both how men and women communicate and how their communications are heard--or not. She concludes with a discussion of the roles of business and government as the subjects of the debates, how the protesters perceived them as different forms of threat and how their nature influenced their reaction to the protests.
This fascinating book examines two examples of social action on the Internet-the organized protests against Lotus MarketPlace and the Clipper chip--in order to evaluate the impact of the net on our social and political life.