This final article will conclude by summarising the project discussing some of the overarching issues and processes that have been concerned with along the way.
Over the course of the project, aims and ideas have naturally evolved. reflecting on the proposed research question some evaluations of the project trajectory can be made. As proposed this can be detailed as follows.
Democratic Citizenship Amongst Automated Agents and Environments; What Challenges and Opportunities Exist for Citizens?
This can most accurately be described as a guide to the kind of project pursued, understandably broad and a bit vague. As progressions have been made, key concentrations were on the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal. This was due to it being perceived as an interesting currently evolving piece of current affairs which addressed related themes. Specifically issues related to personalised media content, data privacy and their place within elections.
Considering this original question, opportunities seem to be in the hands of campaigners rather than citizens (or at least were). Citizens seem to be facing a greater mass of challenges in this environment. Namely, in the deciphering of political messages that may have more effective persuasive qualities could be putting them in a position where common truths are less available. How this issue evolves in the future will present a more detailed picture.
It has been noted the almost avoidance of most deliberative theory here, theory that is often central to discussions and constitutive to discussions of the public sphere. Perhaps I don’t feel Habermasian notions of the public sphere are reflected online or this ideal is not my ideal. Major social media platforms have been considered here as they are the sites that pertain the most users and thus the most citizens. If there is power in internet for bringing about democratic change it doesn’t seem to be through long considered rational public deliberation.
At times, it seems research priorities have been found more in exploration of methods over the topics they were supposedly studying. Looking at the project overall, attention has been given to the development of skills particularly related to natural language processing. This has been formative and fed back into more issue centred investigations. Incorporating the structure of a blog over a more traditional academic format has provided opportunities for experimentation and overall has been a rewarding experience. Any good practices built upon here will be taken forward into future research projects.