Thursday 10 June 2010

MED104 - 1.2 The Medium is the Message? When the media converge

This week's reading was Four Puzzles From Cyberspace by L. Lessig (2006), which puts into words and provides examples for some things I've thought about a bit over the years. It basically examines the issue of Regulability, which is "the capacity of a government to regulate behavior within its proper reach", within the context of cyberspace. This reading is written from an American perspective and discusses certain aspects of the US Constition which I'm not sure have parallels in the Australian constitution, but the issue is still the same. According to Lessig "To regulate well, you need to know (1) who someone is, (2) where they are, and (3) what they ’re doing. But because of the way the Internet was originally designed <...>, there was no simple way to know (1) who someone is, (2) where they are, and (3) what they ’re doing."

To me, what is appropriate or offensive in one culture vs another culture is pretty much the essence of the whole issue. Until now laws and morals have always been "country" based, the will of the people and all that. For instance, if a country has 2 different major religions, then they have to talk and negotiate and juggle their laws and morals to get the right balance that everybody can live with, and if they don't then they inevitably have issues until somebody comes along that can come up with a solution. But the Internet has taken that to a global level, which just introduces many more times the complexity. Look at the recent Emissions Trading meetings - the chances of getting every single country in the world to agree on anything nowadays is miniscule! The world can't even agree which is the best side of the road/car to be on, or which format to transmit TV signals in. The only examples of "global" that I can think of that actually work is the telephone country code system, and World Airport Codes (ie. MEL is always Melbourne), and they're both decades old and fairly simple. So our government falls back on the old "country" based solutions, which aren't really solutions, because they just don't have any better ideas. Maybe our esteemed lecturer is right - maybe we SHOULD be looking more at Star Trek for guidance! :>

The other thing we were instructed to watch was a Henry Jenkins video on Participatory culture. Thinking this through today, I see a bit of a contradiction between this video and the previous reading - the first one focuses on government regulation (ie. restricting) and the other is about mass participation (ie. expanding individual opportunities to participate), which is a bit hard to do if restrictions are government-sanctioned. One of the things that Jenkins says is that the challenge is to make sure that these tools get in the hands of the people who have been most oppressed and dispossessed to get their stories out into circulation. I think that social media allows that to an extent - until governments start imposing things like mandatory internet filters anyway!

We were also given the following links as suggested additional reading. I've added a few of my thoughts below each.

Henry Jenkins talking about the Columbine massacre and ensuing moral panics about youth and the internet.
This video briefly reviews the moral panic about mods and rockers in 1950s UK with commentary from Stanley Cohen who first coined the term “moral panic” in his book based on these incidents.

Both of these videos covered "moral panic". Interestingly, the first was current and the latter was from the 1950's, well before the age of the Internet - but the moral panic theme was identical. So although nowadays it's all about "youth and the Internet", the reality is that it's really just "youth". :>

Hungry Beast episode 11 - covers 'Operation Titstorm' - the anonymous hacker attack on the Australian Government

The anonymity of this made me think of the Cold War - two opposing views, fought under a veil of secrecy. Same theory, not necessarily dependent on the Internet, however I did like the quote "In an inter-connected world, we're all open for attack."

An ABC 7.30 Report on Mandatory Internet Filtering

One of my pet subjects. I wrote a blog post as part of Web101 here that addresses my thoughts on this issue.

Clay Shirky on the use of social media to overcome internet censorship

A discussion about new ways to use technology to take action against oppressive governments. I liked this quote "This isn't just an example of media leading to collective actions, also an example of collective action leading to more media".

Until next week,


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