Congress and the Internet: A Proposal

For my print project, I would like to research the history of the use of the internet by Congressmen and Senators.  The paper would follow the history of the internet in the 1990’s and 2000’s.  It would deal with attitudes within both houses, the pioneers who first utilized it, and the successes and failures legislators in the U.S. had in utilizing the internet for winning campaigns and winning public approval for their programs.

To complete my research, I shall use two general sources of information.  First of all, I will look at books and online journal articles available at the American University Library.  Secondly, I shall look for articles on JSTOR.com.  While I will use internet search engines, it should be said that this third category will require me to inspect the origins of my sources carefully.  Thus, I will probably rely on the American University Library and JSTOR more so for the project.

A preliminary investigation suggests that there is plenty of literature to choose from.  From general search of the internet, I found timelines of the internet’s birth and major milestones, which will be useful for putting any shifts in Congressional actions in context.  Through the website of the American University Library, I have found a 2008 article calling on Congress to utilize new media to deal with public concern about the bailouts, along with providing individual examples of Congressmen who did.  Book titles include Dennis Johnson’s Congress Online: Bridging the Gap Between Citizens and their Representatives, CAPWEB: the Internet Guide to the US Congress, Congress and the ?Youtube War?, and a variety of newspapers dealing with current event stories about particular bills regarding regulation of the internet.  From JSTOR, there are articles like, Deep Democracy, Thin Citizenship: The Impact of Digital Media in Political Campaign Strategy, Unraveling the Effects of the Internet on Political Participation?, and Free Advertising: How the Media Amplify Campaign Messages. Overall, these sources seem to have a focus towards use of the internet for campaigning rather than general use.  Still, I feel there is enough information to begin a look into the relationship between the American Congress and the World Wide Web. 

One Reply to “Congress and the Internet: A Proposal”

  1. Interesting project idea! You have sketched out a great topic and I think it is clear that there is more than enough discussion in the press and other secondary sources for you to engage with this.

    With that said, if you want to pursue this as your project you will want to narrow down your focus. For example, the LC has been saving election websites for a number of years now. See http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/lcwa/html/lcwa-home…. So you could think about looking at how a few candidates election web presences have changed over time and then connect those changes up with what some of the secondary literature is suggesting.

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