Aristotle argues that the simple ability to keep discourse going produces a natural limit to the size of democracy: it cannot grow beyond the voice of a Stentor. Slashdot blew through this barrier, providing a structure in which good ideas could float to the top.
Learning Mass Interaction
Alex Halavais
39

While I could be counted among those who agree with your opening three assertions (but kept reading so as to not miss out on the fun), I kept circling back to this passage in my mind. I wonder if, in fact, Slashdot “blew through the barrier” in terms of the size limits of democracy, or if it rather blew down any hopes of true democratic discourse in a mass online setting. Some, if not many, of these types of sites feel more like ochlocracy than democracy in action. And, is it the good ideas that float to the top, or just the most popular? I would posit that they are not one in the same. Forgive me for forgetting which of this weeks authors (and especially forgive me if it was you) highlighted the fact that the voice of dissent can be easily lost in this world of mass interaction and input. When it is easy enough for the mob to “dislike” or vote down something into oblivion, aren’t we at the mercy of the mob. I would hope that open-mindedness, reason, and critical thinking would prevail — and I believe they do in certain settings — but I have seen too often that they do not. *cough* 2016 election *cough*

Do you have any thoughts on how we can more effectively allow minority opinions to be heard on these content voting/filtering sites, or am I too strongly channeling my inner Pollyanna?

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