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This week’s readings and lecture opened up some very interesting questions about the democratic nature of new media. How is what we are saying controlled by the format of expression, and to what extent? Since profit-driven companies are setting the terms for the platforms on which we choose to express ourselves (twitter, facebook), are we merely victims of a hierarchical power structure, with those companies at the top? Or do we actually have some measure of free expression? I would argue that the internet is, in fact, democratic.

Of course I acknowledge that to an extent, form does affect content. As a classmate mentioned in lecture, the structure of the platform does allow certain things to come to light where they might not in other spaces, and what you say is limited by what the platform will allow you to say (for example, the character limit on twitter). However, I believe that the format of the platform is determined, to a larger extent than one might think, by the consumer. There are always new media platforms springing up, competing to be in favor, and the ones that succeed are the ones that are chosen, by the people, for the people. Twitter is successful because it allows people to communicate in a way in which they want to communicate. Google Plus, on the other hand, is less successful, because it does not improve upon older, similar platforms (facebook) and is therefore less desirable. The websites on which we express ourselves are constructed in accordance with the laws of supply and demand: what do consumers want, what will they use.

Another way in which I believe new media to be democratic is that while individual platforms have restrictions that only allow information to be expressed one way, when looking at new media as a whole, the consumer has a wide variety of options. There are a number of different platforms on which one can choose to express oneself, and if a particular format doesn’t suit your needs, there’s a pretty good chance another one exists out there. Most people are on multiple social networking sites, and choose to express different facets of their lives on each one, depending on format.

And, of course, we have to take into account the fact that anyone can start up a media platform. It certainly won’t have the same success as ones begun by well-known companies whose platforms are already successful (because people chose, democratically, to use them) right away, but facebook, for example, started small and grew to what it is today. If there for whatever reason isn’t a website that caters to your specific needs, the internet allows you to create your own space.