MIT historian of technology discusses new work examining “digital citizenship.”
New forms of digital media have made it easier for citizens to donate to politicians, start petitions, watch video of campaign-trail gaffes — and of course, offer their own opinions to a large audience. Are these fundamental changes to our political practices, or just modifications that leave an older form of politics intact? Professor Jennifer Light, a historian of technology in MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) and Department of Urban Studies and Planning, explores this issue in a new book she has co-edited, “From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Age,” just published by the University of Chicago Press. The volume contains contributions from a wide range of prominent scholars — including philosopher Tommie Shelby, psychologist Howard Gardner, and MIT scholar of digital media Ethan Zuckerman — as well as Light and her co-editor, Harvard University political theorist Danielle Allen. MIT News recently spoke with Light about the book.