Ronda Hauben – Columbia University, USA
Abstract: The book Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet celebrates in 2017 the 20th anniversary of its publication in English and Japanese in 1997. The book documents how along with the development of the Internet came the emergence of a new form of citizen — the netizen. In his pioneering online research in the early 1990s Michael Hauben gathered data and did analysis demonstrating that not only the Internet but also the netizen would have an important impact on society. This article explores Hauben’s research recognizing that netizens are a new social force. The article also looks at other contributions which help to provide a conceptual framework to understand this new social force. Media theorist Mark Poster’s work about netizens is discussed, as is Karl Deutsch’s theoretical understanding of the role of communication in creating a new model for good government. But it is the candlelight revolution by citizens and netizens in 2016-2017 in South Korea which demonstrates in practice the importance of the netizen forging a new governance model for participatory democracy.
Keywords: netizens, communications, empowerment, impact, citizen, watchdog, democracy.
Rhetoric and Communications E-journal, Issue 27, March 2017, rhetoric.bg/, journal.rhetoric.bg, ISSN 1314-4464