Public Information: Up for Debate or Up for Sale? Writing via the Internet

  • Anne Surma


In the developed world’s age of ‘communicative abundance’ (Keane 1997, 2002), where technologies are increasingly sophisticated and their spatial and temporal reach through multiple channels extensive, the opportunity to communicate with others is certainly made easier.1 What communicative abundance can enable, as a result, is for diverse, sometimes harmonising, but also frequently discordant texts and voices to be represented and to engage in discussion. These texts collectively challenge the idea of a singular or universal text of truth, reason and propriety. As a result, argues John Keane, communicative abundance has the potential to enhance the democratic project, given that it encourages us to acknowledge the world’s complexity, to accept diversity, and to develop the capacity to make informed public judgements (Keane 1997, p. 7).


Public Information Democratic Process Communicative Abundance Political Advertising Chocolate Cake 
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  1. 1.
    Keane, however, is all too aware of the other side of this story: ‘it is common knowledge that three-quarters of the world’s population (now totalling 6 billion) are too poor to buy a book; that a majority have never made a phone call in their lives; and that only 5 per cent currently have access to the Internet’ (Keane 2003, p. 140).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Tim Jordan teases out Jaron Lanier’s now often rehearsed statement that ‘information is alienated experience’ (Jordan 1999, pp. 194ff.).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See, for example, Coleman and Gotze (2001); Griffiths (2002); Hacker and van Dijk (2000); Kamarck and Nye (2002); OECD (2003a); OECD (2001); Maarek and Wolfsfeld (2003); Tsagarousianou et al. (1998).Google Scholar
  4. 29.
    Thomas Meyer refers to this naturalising process as ‘the main theatrical strategy of the politics of image’. In a discussion of image-making in mediated politics, he argues that ‘the images that are supposed to make good the candidates’ claims to personify desired qualities, and so enhance their credibility, allegedly come from “natural” situations that have not been contrived for public effect’ (Meyer 2002, p. 69).Google Scholar

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© Anne Surma 2005

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  • Anne Surma

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