Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Media theorist Marshall McLuhan wrote in 1972...

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Unformatted text preview: Media theorist Marshall McLuhan wrote in 1972 Media that “the wired planet has no boundaries and no monopolies of knowledge.” knowledge.” William Gibson, the novelist who coined the word William cyberspace in the 1980s to represent the virtual reality environment of computing networks, similarly argued “the Internet is transnational. Cyberspace has no borders.” borders.” And in 2000, Microsoft leader Bill Gates said, And “The Internet is a constantly changing global network that knows no borders.” borders.” This trend became most evident with the This operation of the Internet in China. Over 123 million Chinese are online, only a fraction of the country’s 1.3 billion country’ population, but with enough Internet users to be second only to the United States. • the openness of the Internet has led to a clash of cultures. As Washington Post reporter Philip Pan writes, “The party appears at once determined not to be left behind by the global information revolution and fearful of being swept away by it.” it.” 1 As more and more Chinese citizens As take to the Internet, an estimated thirty thousand government censors monitor their use of Web pages, blogs, chat rooms, and e-mails. This esurveillance constitutes what some now call the “Great Firewall of China.” China.” Chinese Internet service providers and Chinese Webmasters have learned to self-censor selfto avoid attracting attention. For those who persist in practicing For “subversive” free speech, there can be subversive” severe penalties: • Paris-based Reporters without Borders Paris( reports that more than eightyeightyone cyberdissidents and journalists are in Chinese prisons for writing articles and blogs that criticized the government. “We had a choice to enter the country and follow the law. Or we had a choice to not enter the country.” country.” –Eric E. Schmidt, Google CEO, on why the company chose to comply with China’s censorship, 2006 China’ 2 information highway Unlike interstate Unlike highways built by federal and state governments, however, the information highway has been taken over and expanded by private enterprise, although it was initially established and subsidized by the government. The full impact of the Internet, like The that of all emerging mass media, will evolve over time. Unlike cable and earlier mass media, Unlike the Internet is also unique in that there is no limit on how large its databases of content can grow. Origins of the Internet From its humble origins as an attack-proof From attackmilitary communications network in the 1960s, the Internet became increasingly interactive by the the 1990s, allowing immediate two-way twocommunication (like telephones) and one-toone-tomany communication (like radio and television) between senders and receivers of media messages. With its ability to transport both personal With conversation and multimedia mass communication, the Internet has begun to break down conventional distinctions among various media and between private and public modes of communication. 3 The Evolution of a New Mass Medium: 3 Stages First is the novelty or development stage in which First inventors and technicians try to solve a particular problem Second is the entrepreneurial stage in which Second inventors and investors determine a practical and marketable use for the new device. The third phase in a new medium’s development The medium’ involves a breakthrough to the mass medium stage. At this point, businesses figure out how to market the new device as an appealing consumer product. The Structure of the Internet Today Internet Internet Service Providers – • broadband: data transmission over a fiber-optic cable — a signaling fibermethod that handles a wide range of frequencies. Web Web Browsers • Internet Explorer continues to dominate the Web browser business Directories Directories and Search Engines • review and cataloguing services that group Web sites under particular particular categories (e.g., Arts & Humanities, News & Media, Entertainment). Entertainment). E-mail and Instant Messaging Services • instant messaging: a Web feature that enables users to chat with buddies in real time via pop-up windows assigned to each popconversation. Web 2.0 In Web 2.0, the online environment In has moved toward being a fully interactive and collaborative medium with social networking, interactive games, and user-created content like user• wikis, blogs, and podcasts. YouTube, wikis, podcasts. YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, PhotoBucket, Second Life, Eve Online, PhotoBucket, and children’s virtual world sites like children’ Webkinz and Club Penguin all represent the user-generated world of Web 2.0 user- 4 Digital Technology and Converging Media Three innovations make the Internet a Three particularly distinct mass medium, offering unprecedented opportunities to communicate. • interactive • converging media—connecting consumers to media— other media and personalizing this experience • allows individuals to create and distribute their own messages in what has been called participatory media Technological Breakthroughs digital communication: images, digital texts, and sounds that use pulses of electric current or flashes of laser lights and are converted (or encoded) into electronic signals fiber-optic cable: thin glass fiberbundles of fiber capable of transmitting thousands of messages Media Convergence Online media convergence: media the process whereby old and new media are available via the integration of personal computers and highhighspeed satellite-based satellitephone or cable links. 5 Ownership Issues on the Internet Large media firms, such as Disney, Time Large Warner, and Microsoft, are buying up or investing in smaller companies and spreading their economic interests among books, magazines, music, movies, radio, television, cable, and Internet channels. • Telecommunications Act of 1996: the sweeping update of telecommunications law that led to a wave of media consolidation. Free Expression, Security, and Access The Battle over Inappropriate The Material Communications Decency Act in Communications 1996 and the Child Online Protection Act in 1998. Both efforts were judged unconstitutional. 6 2000 with the Children’s Internet 2000 Children’ Protection Act, which required schools and libraries that received federal funding for Internet access to use software to filter out visual content that is deemed obscene In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld In the law, with the condition that libraries disable the filtering software at the request of adult users. The Challenge to Keep Personal Information Private USA PATRIOT Act, which became law USA about a month after the September 11 attacks and was renewed in 2006, • grants sweeping powers to lawlawenforcement agencies to intercept computer communications, including eemail messages and Web browsing records. spam: a computer term referring to unsolicited spam: e-mail. phishing: an Internet scam that begins with phishing: phony e-mail messages that pretend to be from ean official site and request that customers send their credit card numbers and other personal information to update the account. cookies: information profiles about a user that cookies: are usually automatically accepted by the Web browser and stored on the user's own computer hard drive. spyware: software with secretive codes that spyware: enable commercial firms to “spy” on users and spy” gain access to their computers. 7 The Economics of Access and the Digital Divide digital divide: the socioeconomic digital disparity between those who do and those who do not have access to digital technology and media, such as the Internet. • only 34 percent of Americans aged sixty-five sixtyand older go online, compared with 72 percent of those aged fifty-one to fifty-nine, 78 percent fiftyfiftyof those aged twenty-nine to forty, and 86 twentypercent of those aged eighteen to twentytwentyeight. • only 29 percent of those who did not graduate from high school have access, compared with 61 percent of high school graduates and 90 percent of college graduates. Globally, though, the have-nots face an haveeven greater obstacle in connecting to the Internet. The United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, The Japan, South Korea, Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany account for most of its international flavor. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Myanmar Jordan, (Burma), the government permits limited or no access to the Web Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico, an Argentina, inadequate telecommunications infrastructure means that consumers must endure painfully long waits to get online. Citizens, the Internet, and Democracy Despite the criticisms of the Despite Internet’s accessibility and Internet’ continuing national and international digital divides, • many have praised the Internet for its democratic possibilities and for its accessibility. Some advocates even tout it as the most decentralized social network ever conceived. 8 ...
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