Highlights from translated article over at ESWN of an interview with associate professor Hu Yong of Peking University, School of Journalism and Communication by Li Guosheng for the Tianya Forum:
Therefore I say that our people are not citizens. The nurturing of civic awareness will depend on the next the stage of the Internet. I still feel that the Internet is only in the first stage when people went from a state of total silence to a hubbub where everybody wants to speak their minds as quickly as possible. Although nobody can hear anyone else, it is at least better than the blanket silence before. At the time, many people were happy simply to speak, even if it was not their own ideas and just something that they picked up from others. I think that the Internet needs to go from the stage of speaking to the stage of organization. Pure hubbub has no value. After the hubbub phase, we have to reach some consensus on at least some of the larger issues, because there can be no action without some consensus.
The original research of Habermas for the public sphere began with a coffee shop which is a discussion space. I personally don’t think that the Internet resembles a coffee shop. Instead it looks more like a supermarket, where people with different needs come to get whatever they want. It is not realistic to achieve the ideal speech space in the short term.