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Netting political gain

The internet has changed politics, says Alex Smith, but it has also amplified inequalities, especially among those who remain offline

By Alex Smith   July 2011

The Obama campaign is now cited as a textbook example of how to harness the power of the web

Among the many memorable lines spoken in Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing is Vice President John Hoynes’s part throwaway, part facetious, part prophetic quip, “this just in: the internet is not a fad.”

In that moment, a fictional character spoke to millions of contemporary and future obsessives about the lasting durability of the web. Within ten years it would prove a force for democracy, spurring political engagement and, for some, revolution.

During that last decade, the web has developed a culture…

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