“A Dream Come True” by Lee Siegel

Zachariah James Watson

Lee Siegel’s essay discusses the cultural and societal perceptions of the Internet as a democratic tool. For instance, he elaborates on this by describing the Internet (or Web 2.0) as “philosophy and interactivity.” By this he means that “it applies to any online experience all allows the user to help create, edit, or revise the content of a website, interact with other users, share pictures, music, and so on” (Siegel). There are multiple examples of how this perception of the Internet can be defended due to how they apply to the idea of interactivity, connectivity, and creative freedom (Amazon, Facebook, SquareSpace, etc.).

Quoting Lawrence Lessig, Siegel claims that this democratic viewpoint of the Internet has lead many of us to believe that we now have certain “rights” in regards to our “right” to recognition, creative freedom, access to information, and so on. Siegel also says that this viewpoint can be deceptive due to the social and political pretext of how the word “democracy” is often interpreted and/or misinterpreted. He suggests that democratic freedom is an illusionary concept in regards to what we are able/allowed to do within the realms of online participation and activity. Siegel would say that what we perceive as democratic is actually a form of “capitalism and commercialism gone haywire” (Google, Safari, Firefox, etc.).

Discussion Questions:

1) Based on what Siegel has discussed in regards to how democracy is perceived with its relationship to the Internet, do you believe that any of it is illusionary and deceptive in regards to creative freedom and choice?

2) What is your overall perception of Web 2.0 as a democratic tool?