For the first time in human history, access to information on almost any topic is accessible through the Internet. A powerful extraction system is needed to disseminate this knowledge, which for most users is Google. Google Search is an extremely powerful and important component to American political life in the twenty-first century, yet its influence is poorly researched or understood.
Sean Richey and J. Benjamin Taylor explore for the first time the influence of Google on American politics, specifically on direct democracy. Using original experiments and nationally representative cross-sectional data, Richey and Taylor show how Google Search returns quality information, that users click on quality information, and gain political knowledge and other contingent benefits. Additionally, they correlate Google usage with real-world voting behavior on direct democracy.
Building a theory of Google Search use for ballot measures, Google and Democracy is an original addition to the literature on the direct democracy, Internet politics, and information technology. An indispensable read to all those wishing to gain new insights on how the Internet has the power to be a normatively valuable resource for citizens.
- Introduction: Direct Democracy, Political Knowledge, and the Internet
- Internet Politics & The Computer Science of Google
- Google Search Returns on Ballot Measures
- Click Behavior and Direct Democracy
- Learning Happens: Political Knowledge and Three Ballot Measures
- Internet Research and Intellectually-Secure Decisions in Direct Democracy
- Real-World Applications: Does Google Use Correlate with Real-World Political Behavior?
- Conclusions & Directions for Future Research
'The most recent US presidental election showed that voting behavior is far more complicated than expected; this book helps us to understand the digital tools citizens use to frame their vote decision.' - Sergio Picazo-Vela, Professor of Business Administration, Universidad de las Américas Puebla
'The radical change in citizens' access to specific and relevant information has profound implications for democracy. Soon, we may well feel that voting without searching for information on the internet is as irresponsible as making a major purchase without comparison shopping, or signing a binding contract without reading it. Google and Democracy makes a compelling, and reassuring, case for that future.' - Richard N. Engstrom, Associate Director of the Institute for Governmental Service and Research, University of Maryland