Persuasion and Privacy in Cyberspace: The Online Protests over Lotus MarketPlace and the Clipper Chip

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9780300078640: Persuasion and Privacy in Cyberspace: The Online Protests over Lotus MarketPlace and the Clipper Chip

What happens when the Internet is used as a forum for public debate? Does the speed and power of computer-mediated communication foster democratic discourse and protest? This fascinating book examines two examples of social action on the Internet―the organized protests against Lotus MarketPlace and the Clipper chip―in order to evaluate the impact of the net on our social and political life.

In 1990, Lotus Development Corporation announced the forthcoming production of a direct-mail marketing database that would contain the names, addresses, and spending habits of 120 million American consumers. A grassroots outcry on the Internet resulted in a decision by Lotus to cancel the project. In 1994, the U.S. government proposed a new encryption standard called the Clipper chip, which, for the purposes of national security, could decrypt any message on any telephone in which it was installed. This encryption standard was implemented, despite opposition in the form of an online petition of more than 40,000 signatures. Laura J. Gurak tells the full stories of these protests, analyzes the resulting rhetoric and the reasons for the different outcomes, considers positive and negative aspects of computer-mediated communication, and challenges claims about cyberspace as a bastion of free speech by pointing out problems of access, structure, and gender bias on the Internet. In addition, since both cases involved technologies that raised concerns about the right to privacy on the Internet, she discusses issues of privacy in cyberspace.

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Review:

When Lotus Corp. announced a marketing database of 120 million U.S. consumers, the resulting roar of protest led to the project's cancellation. A similar outpouring of protest about the Clipper Chip as a proposed encryption standard for telephones and fax machines failed to prevent government endorsement. In this book, Laura Gurak goes beyond an exploration of the online controversies and even beyond the question of why one protest succeeded while the other failed. She uses these conflicts to examine her real interest: the nature of persuasion online, showing how urgent issues seem to form in two stages in Internet discourse--first as a broad area of general concern, then as a cause focused on a significant event.

She goes on to examine the role of inaccuracies and flaming in online debate, including the tendency of readers to find online information more believable than may be warranted. A brief chapter discusses the role of gender in online discussion in terms of both how men and women communicate and how their communications are heard--or not. She concludes with a discussion of the roles of business and government as the subjects of the debates, how the protesters perceived them as different forms of threat and how their nature influenced their reaction to the protests.

From Booklist:

Gurak is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota specializing in rhetorical theory. Her compact book is dense with ideas and fulfills several goals. Gurak analyzes public discourse over the Internet within the framework of rhetorical theory, considering especially ethos (credibility and character) and delivery (the medium and methods by which a message is transferred). She also raises the issues of privacy and free speech by documenting the debate and protest generated by Lotus Development Corporation's attempt in 1990 to market a database containing detailed personal information and by the government's 1994 encryption standard called the Clipper chip. The ensuing arguments were conducted mostly online, and Gurak also tackles the thorny issue of how to handle material found on the Internet for research purposes. Gurak has targeted a broad audience, and she saves much of her theoretical discussions--of which there are plenty--for her endnotes. She provides an intriguing look at a new phenomenon, but because the two cases she considers affected primarily the "online community," her question about the role of the Internet in public debate over broader social issues needs to be looked at in more detail. David Rouse

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Book Description Yale University Press. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 198 pages. Dimensions: 8.3in. x 5.5in. x 0.4in.This fascinating book examines two examples of social action on the Internet-the organized protests against Lotus MarketPlace and the Clipper chip--in order to evaluate the impact of the net on our social and political life. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780300078640

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