The problem with the Internet is any nut case can publish a book
Imagine - the publishing cost of this book was less than $600. Without web based publishing the minimum cost runs about $10,000. In the past some authors self-published and found their books just sat in their garage because besides the actual publishing cost they also needed money to publicize. Without it their books languished in obscurity. Today an author with the same resources can self-publish and still have $9000 or more to self publicize. The fact that you're reading this book now indicates my publicity budget reached you. This should at least momentarily cause the hair on the back of your neck to stick up. What if this book was much better written and people actually chose to vote tfm for Senate? What will this country be like when everyone has the means to distribute their views to the rest of the people? Scary situation, if you lack faith in the collective intelligence level of the population. Because many people fear the demagogues who will attempt to lead the mass down the paths of unrighteousness, you can expect a concerted attack on the ability of normal people to be heard by way of electric information.
Don't be fooled into believing these demagogues don't exist. The damage they can inflict goes way beyond just leading people into sin. Once a larger number of people rely more exclusively on the news found on the web a greater trust in the web develops and the lines between established sources and others will begin to fade. During this period the influence of these people will likely cause some individuals to grasp onto the false message. Unfortunately, some individuals will be hurt financially, others may be hurt mentally and others possibly physically.
Once a greater number of people begin to understand that currently there are no government safeguards to distinguish reliable information from that generated from fantasy they will pressure politicians to force perceived safeguards into the system. The people who will advocate this course of action may not realize that after a small break-in period, the system will work as well under the same rules as all other media. Also, the thought of people without economic wealth being afforded the opportunity to distribute their ideas disturbs many individuals of all economic classes. Therefore, they will advocate rules that limit the free exchange of ideas. They fail to realize that along with wacky ideas, the poor and middle class also develop some of the most enlightening and creative thoughts and solutions. Limiting the people not in the upper economic classes from access to mass distribution of publishing media ensures great ideas are either not implemented or the true creator does not receive the credit for the idea. Therefore, we are better off accepting the short-term damage caused while we wait for the transition period to end than we are trying to artificially eliminate the wacko's from the Internet.
Of course the established media will embrace artificial solutions because they will certainly benefit if the competition on the web can be eliminated and they can dominate the information disseminated there. This despite the advantage they hold during the transition period due to their name recognition. The established media with a presence on the web performs an invaluable service of providing respected reports of news events. The respect their names bring to these web sites overshadows the upstart individuals or small groups trying to disseminate differing aspects of events. This works as an early check on the misinformation some web sites contain while it still allows lesser-organized individuals with important information to present that information to a potentially wider population. Then the population can judge the information. Compared to the previous system where an individual had to convince an editor of an established news organization their information or view counted, this new media allows a greater range of viewpoints and a greater means for determining better solutions. For example The American Legion publishes a magazine. The former national commander's pet project was to garner support for a flag amendment to the Constitution. So every month the magazine devoted large portions of coverage to advance this cause. It is likely that a large majority of the membership of The American Legion supports a flag amendment. It is not likely the support is unanimous. In fact the magazine gave no coverage of those members that disagreed with the organization decision to spend so much effort on this cause. With the Internet those individuals that feel compelled to be heard have a medium for that voice.
This type of empowerment extends beyond just news items. The worker that wishes to participate in union affairs but is shut out can start a watch group on Vista or some other bulletin board. In one case an employee attended many of the local teamsters union meetings and came to the conclusion the most common reason any course of action is undertaken by the union involves a personal benefit to the officers of the union. If this wasn't bad enough the legitimate concerns of other individuals of the union got no attention from these officers. So when the leadership tried to "interpret" the rules so ther terms would be five years instead of the two they were allowed this individual decided to go directly to the members. It still takes perseverance to publicize the site and good information once they are drawn there to convince them to take action. But the cost involved was time and good ideas - not money and the leadership was forced to schedule elections.
The World Wide Web may change politics in much the same manner. The fact that you're reading this means for very little promotional money a person can expose many others to their opinions. Thus a person no longer needs the huge revenue generating operations common in today's political atmosphere. If there exist one reason I might be tempted to make this a real campaign looking for real votes - convincing other talented, articulate people they can get elected without spending enormous amounts of cash qualifies as that inspiration. A well run web site offers that type of freedom. And it's done the way this site drew you to view the contents here. You start with developing the site, once finished the candidate advertises the site. This approach offers the candidate a greater opportunity to expose a platform to the voting public than the current practice of 15 or 30 second television commercials. The premise being people are interested in politics and would like to become more involved with the selection process. This premise is true despite what current political parties and commentators purport. Most people want to know the candidates and their positions. They want to understand the intricacies of why this highway gets repaired or this proposal for saving Social Security cost more than the other proposal. They want justification for tax hikes. They want to vote. But they want to vote smart. The current system doesn't allow them to become familiar enough with the candidate's views to overcome their cynicism. A well-run Internet campaign can change that aspect of current campaigning. Instead of a candidate running a TV commercial implying they will lower taxes they can run a commercial stating they have something to say about lowering taxes and you can find it on their web page. Interested voters will look at the site and determine if the candidate really did have something to say about lowering taxes. The well-prepared candidate will gain respect even from those who disagree with the candidate's view. The candidate who doesn't believe the general public contains the capacity to make an informed decision will be exposed and lose support.
As an example let's take a look at the current debate on NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement). One candidate calls the treaty an exportation of jobs that encourages U.S. companies to close down U.S. plants to take advantage of lower wages and environmental standards. Another candidate promotes the lower consumer prices and the creation of jobs due because those countries lower the barriers formerly placed on U.S. imports. In this case both candidates make good arguments for their position. But they can't afford to give you any more information because TV time and newspaper advertisements cost so much. TV political shows typically cut candidates off before they become to technical and newspapers reject 90 percent of candidates' press releases. The web doesn't have any of these limitations. Now the candidate must publish not only a full easily understandable summary of the pros and cons of an issue but if the candidate wants to gain the respect of the people the candidate must also produce a comprehensive analysis with research and references. In the not to distant future the candidate that believes NAFTA encourages companies to shift operations from the U.S. to other countries will be forced to provide credible articles and research to back up that claim. The candidate that wants you to believe the loss of jobs are offset by better jobs created by our exports must furnish proof of that position. This new standard of campaigning means theories not backed by research no longer can trick the general public to the extent the current system now enjoys.
The Internet demands well-written and comprehensive plans. Slogans like "No new taxes" may lure the public to an Internet site but if the site fails to provide the proof the candidate knows how to achieve that goal the general public will discover the shortfall and explore the other possibilities. The new standard requires a deeper understanding of issues allowing a process more capable of distinguishing solutions for the general public and lessening the likelihood of wasting effort on individual cases. With candidates forced to develop intricate platforms intelligent hard working Americans regain some of the influence recently lost to people with celebrity.