# Chapter 9: Electronic Frontiers and Online Activists
The chapter starts with a conclusion from the earlier case-studies: people aren't all that interested in information on screens, if that is all you have to sell--unless you also offer a way for people to interact with one another.
In these interactions, politcal discussions are important. Examples are given of a political struggle about measures against tele-commuting (!), cities wanting to get the citizens involved in solving problems. Or CMC are used for education - not just for presenting data and knowledge, but for actual learning interaction. MIT-professor suddenly could teach students in remote, rural areas. Native American use CMC to preserve their cultural heritage but also to innovate.
> The community-building power comes from the living database that the participants create and use together informally as they help each other solve problems, one to one and many to many. The web of human relationships that can grow along with the database is where the potential for cultural and political change can be found.
There was a clash between the FBI and "hackers". The notion of hacker changed over time from people who are talented in adapting technology to new purposes to people who illegally enter and sometimes vandalize computers.
At first "law and order" lacked the knowledge to do a decent job and all they did was undermining important citizen's rights and democratic principles. The Electronic Frontier Foundation originated in those early conflicts and defends to this day our rights as citizens in a cybercontext.
Other problems emerged from inside the cyber movement itself. Projects to involve the citizens into city management backfired:
> The specific changes that they hoped would come about were not designed into the system, for they were supposed to emerge from the CMC-augmented community itself. Four years later, those who started the system began to realize what they should have designed into the system, which those who replicate their efforts ought to take into account-- the common problem in cyberspace of the hijacking of discussions by a vociferous minority.
A number of lessons were learned:
> People want a means of communicating more than they want access to information; make databases of useful information available, but emphasize citizen-to-citizen communication as well. Citizens can put items on the city agenda, but if you plan to involve city officials, make clear to everyone what can and cannot be accomplished through this medium in terms of changing city policies, and set up some rules of polite communication within a framework of free speech. Free speech does not mean that anyone has to listen to vile personal attacks. Having both moderated forums and totally unmoderated forums for hot subjects is one technique for maintaining a place for reasoned discourse without stifling free expression. The people who use the system can design these rules, but if the PEN experience has anything to teach, it is that citizens can't hope to work with city hall without a flame-free zone for such discussions.
In this chapter Howard is clearly alarmed by a number of high-profile mergers and joint projects by big companies in telecom and media. The coverage of these transactions and projects made it clear that there was little attention for the many-to-many affordances of the net. On the contrary, it was all about distributing existing content in a mass-media style to even more people.