The more that I have been thinking about my project, the more I want to change it. Originally, before my post about science fiction, I wanted to put my thesis online, in a format that would be more engaging that just reading a bound collection of text on paper. I was having a difficult time conceptualizing how I could successfully implement my thesis online, and felt that I might be sick of my topic if I focused on it for two classes. However, today I thought of a way that I might put it online and have decided to change my project back.
My thesis topic is on online deliberation. I am interested in a discussion of the public sphere outlined by Habermas, where in a successful implementation of the public sphere, individuals are able to speak freely with others, discussing issues and ultimately coming to a consensus. This type of public spheres allows for “deliberative democracy,” a type of democracy that is seen as more aligned with actual democracy than how we see democracy carried out today. The Internet is seen as a forum where deliberative democracy can materialize; the system of the internet, in theory, is open to everyone.
I wrote one chapter on online deliberation and e-democracy, a sort of lit review. My second chapter was on Twitter and Facebook and how users of social networks in devloping countries can use the internet as a medium for social change when organizing on the streets is prohibitive. I am working on a blogging chapter now where I am arguing that feminist blogs allow for women to participate in the public sphere with greater access and scope. My last chapter is on online education tools. I want to probe at the question of whether or not having educational tools available free and accesible online aids in online deliberation and more informed discussion.
SO, my project would be to put the text online available to read. However, the website would make the topic more interesting and engaging to a reader that didn’t want to sit down and read a 60+ page paper. Each section would have short “blog” type entries on the topic, links to my sources, links to similar websites with ideas on deliberation, and graphics. Finally, I would hope that I could set up an environment where online deliberation could take place about online deliberation and some of the theories and questions that I raise in my paper. This way instead of having a paper with a closed argument on deliberation, I could start an on-going discussion of ideas – sort of a free flowing of ideas about my topic.
My paper accompanying the website for Writing Machines would analyze how my topic changes from a paper in a traditional sense to being a paper published online. I want to analyze the differences and how as a writer I feel like my work changes when seen through different display mediums, using the readings of the semester as a tool to navigate these ideas.