Internet penetration is never correlated with increasing power to dictators, and is often correlated with increased freedom

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8 Responses to “Internet penetration is never correlated with increasing power to dictators, and is often correlated with increased freedom”

  1. Andres says:

    Interesting! This is clear indication that Morozov is at least partially wrong in the Net Delusion.

  2. Max says:

    Doesn’t that imply that increased power to dictators is not correlated with increased freedom ? that’s something to ponder here.

  3. flaggday says:

     From just the what’s on the graph, we could just as well argue that technology prevents  increased freedom (there are no points in the upper right).

    The headline is somewhere between “flat out wrong” and “misuses ‘correlation’ so badly that it isn’t a coherent argument that can be evaluated.

    And *again* some BoingBoing contributors post things that laugh in the face of other cotnributors’ attemps to support scientific and mathematical literacy.

  4. YEAH YEAH YEAH . I’ve been telling this to people for years – that the Internet empowers people more than organizations – and met with such skepticism! It is so obvious, though, that so many activist groups that have gotten such a supercharge out of the Internet and allied technologies. I’m so glad to have data, primordial as it has. It may be a cliche to say we are entering a second renaissance, but that doesn’t make it less true.

  5. PhasmaFelis says:

    “…by this method, no country experienced a decline in its overall levels of a democracy as it attained widespread Internet penetration…”
    Am I misreading the graph? Because there are definitely points to the left of the central axis, indicating countries with increasing internet access and decreasing democracy. Not as many as on the right, but certainly not “none”.

  6. Shashwath T.R. says:

    First, horrible graph… -10 on the Y-axis? Negative penetration?

    Second, as @boingboing-4ce0c21386a1e566e12f73d9c0cff630:disqus said, the analysis isn’t sound. The data shows absolutely no correlation between the variables.

    More importantly, the graph shows rate of change in both variables, not the absolute numbers themselves. We can do better on Gapminder; try running the animation with “Play” if you want to see the changes.

    Look at the top of the graph – that’s where high penetration is. Notice Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar in that top left – that’s where you have high penetration and a low Democracy Index. Yes, there are fewer countries high up and to the left, but at best it seems to be a weak correlation. Highlight countries like Russia, and you’ll see penetration go up and DI come down. In general however, most countries go straight up – increased penetration, no change in DI.

    Cory, I do desperately want this to be true, but unfortunately, it’s not!

  7. The problem already starts with the definition of ‘democracy’. On the PolityIV graphs I see the US counts as a ‘full’ democracy and France as a ‘democracy’. Given that the US has only 2 functional political parties; one more than North-Korea and the bare minimum for any country wanting to pretend being a democracy I would question whatever metric is being applied here.

    A country is not democratic because if you have the correct photo-ID you can vote on a leaky and proprietary computersystem for on of two political parties both financed by unlimited ‘free speech’ donations from Wallstreet and other corporate interests.

    And while living under a monarch can for sure be terrible living in a country that declares itself a democracy while its government has the legal right to kill anyone anywhere for any reason without any judicial oversight including its own (underage) citizens by drone strike does not feel like ‘democracy’ to me.

    So we’re measuring internet acces againt a metric called ‘democracy’ but it is rather unclear what ‘democracy’ means in practice if the US of today is more ‘democratic’ than France.

  8. Prefontaine says:

    Comment by David Golombia in the source post. Great point:

    “the PolityIV data speaks solely to the form of government, but not to corporate power.I take a serious consequence of Morozov’s arguments (and my own) to be that corporations often embody authoritarian forms of power, and that digital technology concentrates and reinforces their power greatly. Given the neoliberal emphasis on “democracy” = “free markets” = “corporate freedom,” I would be very surprised not to also see a serious growth of corporate power (both economic and other forms of power), which for many count as a form of democratization, although on some theories of democracy that’s much less true.”

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