ReadMe First Conflicts Res publica Daimonion's Plea Troubleshooting EULA
Known Issues: Conflicts
In what seems yet another nod to a story-telling technique exemplified by Hollywood, Sunstein uses conflict as a principle of argument dynamics. It all starts with the concept of "the Daily Me," advanced in 1995 by Nicholas Negroponte: the notion that as technology advances it becomes possible for individuals to customize their experiences so that they only encounter versions of their own views on all topics and insulate themselves from any opinion they might find offensive and, ultimately, damaging to their pre-existing world view. The last few years seem to prove abundantly that Negroponte was right in his prediction of the increased "filtering" opportunities that new technology offers; this leads Sunstein to ask two fundamental questions: what are the consequences of such a development for our democratic self-government? And, more generally, what are the preconditions that make possible a "well-functioning system of democratic deliberation" (5)? Sunstein identifies two such preconditions: that people "should be exposed to materials that they would not have chosen in advance" and that they should have a number of "common experiences" to enable them to address social issues through dialogue. Both of these requirements are mainly associated with the public space and they both stand to be among the first victims if the more dire predictions inherent in "the daily me" concept were to come true. Clearly then, central to this book's argument is an evaluation of the relationship between public and private space, a mainstay of Western thought ever since Plato set out to define individual virtue and ended up imagining the perfect city. Traditionally private space has been viewed as subordinate: the "privative trait of privacy, indicated in the word itself" expressed the understanding that in private living "the driving force was life itself" (Arendt 38, 30), whereas in the public space one could live as a truly free citizen. Sunstein's book would seem to suggest however that we are living through a reversal of these traditional roles, so that an emboldened private sphere is threatening to invade the public space and attempting to assume its functions.

In addition to this central clash between public and private, we should note two other conflicts that play a role in the argument of 2.0: first, the long-observed tension between freedom and democracy, that was already cause of concern for Tocqueville1, and which Sunstein discusses briefly in chapter two. Finally, there is the fragmentation of modern day individuality resulting from the fact that citizens and consumers have different even divergent interests, mentality and, ultimately, expectations from the world in which they move.
1. "Not that those nations whose social condition is democratic naturally despise liberty; on the contrary, they have an instinctive love of it. But liberty is not the chief and constant object of their desires; equality is their idol" (Tocqueville 41).