Tuesday, April 20, 2010

rumour abides no contestation

Assuredly, opinion is nothing but a semblance, a caricature of essential relation, if only because it is a system organized on the basis of utilizable means, instruments of the press and pressure, the broadcast media and centers of propaganda that transform into an active power the passivity that is its essence, into a power of affirmation its neutrality, into a power of decision the sense of impotence and indecision that is opinion's relation to itself. Opinion does not judge or opine. Radically unavailable because foreign to any position, it is all the more at one's disposal. This justifies every criticism. Nevertheless, its panic movement escapes those critics who stress precisely opinion's seductive and tranquilizing alienation, for its movement constantly dissipates this power by which everything is alienated into a nullity or an inalienable indetermination. He who believes that he has rumor at his disposal rapidly loses himself in it.

Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation, tr. Susan Hanson, aaaarg.org, via wood s lot

But the core finding is that most Internet users do not stay within their communities. Most people spend a lot of time on a few giant sites with politically integrated audiences, like Yahoo News.

But even when they leave these integrated sites, they often go into areas where most visitors are not like themselves. People who spend a lot of time on Glenn Beck’s Web site are more likely to visit The New York Times’s Web site than average Internet users. People who spend time on the most liberal sites are more likely to go to foxnews.com than average Internet users. Even white supremacists and neo-Nazis travel far and wide across the Web.

David Brooks on Cass Sunstein, polarization, the Internet. new research by Gretzkow & Shapiro, at the New York Times

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