Saturday, July 20, 2002

The Techno-Political-Digital-Age at barely a decade old is still very much in its early infancy.

The Techno-Political-Digital-Age at barely a decade old is still very much in its early infancy. Like first time parents, global and national political policy makers are cautiously raising this baby and formulating their policies without the benefit similar experience. In the United States the depth of both the cultural impact and the massive financial scope of the ongoing Microsoft anti-trust case highlights how powerfully and deeply ingrained Techno-Political affairs have become in government, corporate, academic and personal operations, and how difficult the "correct" public policy can be to create. Since September 11, 2001 the Techno-Political issue of personal privacy has become the newest test of constitutional civil liberties in the United States and Europe.[i] How much privacy should one be expected give up for the right to enter cyber-space in now a major issue of E-Governance policy. For the Internet to be a democratizing tool, access to it and the information on it must be unfettered. Already in American workplaces and college libraries use of the Internet is closely monitored and regulated. The issue of Internet use in American public libraries made major news this past May 2002 when a federal court struck down the Children's Internet Protection Act.[ii] The three branches of the American government have just started sorting out exactly what rights to privacy citizens retain in cyberspace ----(and public space too in light of new surveillance technologies)---- during use in work, school and home. The E-Governance topic of cyber-privacy is sure to be a focus of public and legal debate for generations to come, much in the same way other privacy issues have been throughout American History. Just as the American Courts have had to continually re-address search & seizure and privacy laws as new technologies arise, so too will the issue of Cyber-Privacy will become a major discipline of law, both in America and around the globe.

In China, Cuba, Vietnam and other dictatorships, E-Governance control of the Internet is at the forefront, with totalitarian governments expending much time and energy in seeking to contain the potential subversive effects of the digital communication and Internet age.[iii] [iv] To ban the Internet completely is impractical for dictatorships if they want their oppressed citizenship to be able to compete in the globalized world economy. So for dictatorships the only authoritarian option is to attempt control and stifle political cyber-dialogues the best they can without curtailing economic activity. Or in other words to use their powers of E-Governance in order to constrain the citizen use of Cyber-Activism.

It is anybody’s guess as to whether the Globalized Digital Age of Techno-Politics will be a blessing or a curse, and for whom. Will democracies grow stronger and dictatorships weaker? Or will democracies --- especially in the light of terrorist threats---- grow more oppressive, using the technological tools of the political digital age to monitor citizen activity with greater precision than ever before possible.[v] Or maybe the Techno-Political Digital Age will just be a big sum zero impact with the global political and economic status quo unfazed. (In the next chapter of this paper we will explore these questions within the sphere of American politics.)

An excellent overview of the academic side of Techno-Politics is posted on the homepage of UCLA Professor Douglas Kellner in an essay entitled Intellectuals, the New Public Spheres, and Techno-Politics. [vi]

[i] ASSOCIATED PRESS. One effect of 9/11: Less privacy : New surveillance laws passed worldwide, report says. September 3, 2002. Accessed date of publication via @

[ii] ALA News Release. American Library Association applauds federal court ruling on the Children's Internet Protection Act. The American Library Association (ALA) . : May 31, 2002 The deep-links are active as of August 25, 2002.

The American Library Association (ALA) applauds the decision of the federal

court in Philadelphia today, which ruled unanimously that the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is unconstitutional. The opinion was written by Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the Third Circuit and joined by U.S. District Judges John P. Fullam and Harvey Bartle III.”

[iii] Ruwitch, John. China Appears to Block Web Search Engine Google. Reuters

Sep 2, 2002. Accessed via news on date of publication @

[iv] Reuters: Vietnam Cracks Down on 'Harmful' Internet Use. August 7, 2002.

Accessed on date of publication via news @

“Communist-ruled Vietnam has ordered local authorities to inspect Internet usage in its two biggest cities in a crackdown on "harmful information" from cyberspace, officials said on Tuesday. A spokesman at the Directorate General of Posts and Telecommunications (DGPT) told Reuters the scrutiny, which started last week, would be nationwide after initially targeting the capital city Hanoi and commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City.”

[v] McCullagh, Declan. Will Canada's ISPs Become Spies? CNET August 27, 2002, Accessed on date of publication @

[vi] Kellner, Douglas. “Intellectuals, the New Public Spheres, and Techno-Politics”, Available at

Friday, July 19, 2002

Cyber-Politics (or Cyberpolitics)

Cyber-Politics (or Cyberpolitics).

Cyber-Politics covers the realm of the Internet as an issue lobbying, electoral campaigning or political fundraising tool, making it a sub-discipline of Techno-Politics.

From major corporations to local community groups and from left-wing anti-globalization anarchists to right wing neo-nazis, the Internet is being used as a part of an overall organizing and information dissemination strategy. A Cyber-citizen (or Netizen /Net-izen) is anyone who goes online.

A Cyber-Activist (or e-activist / net-activist [i]) is someone who takes political action via the Internet either through cyber-lobbying or cyber-electioneering.[ii]


[i] See note 4 on why I choose "cyber".

[ii] There is also commonly used; e-advocate, e-activist and e-lobbying but as noted before endnote 4, I believe cyber to be more accurate when talking about purely Internet activity.

[iv] Some would argue E-Electioneering or E-lobbying. I believe “Cyber” to be more accurate than “e” / “electronic” in talking about Internet activity. Telephones and fax machines are also electronic. Cyber-Space is the Internet. A Cyber-Activist may never use any other medium.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Is the Digital Age Good or is the Digital Age Bad for American Democracy? : Part A: Overview and statistics.

Is the Digital Age Good

or is the Digital Age Bad

for American Democracy?

Part A: Overview and statistics.

The Internet explosion began in 1995 with the introduction of Microsoft Corporation’s Windows 95, and its Internet Explorer. Before this historical watershed the Internet was a sparsely populated domain composed mainly of academics, technophiles and even some political activists.[i] World-wide in December 1995 there were about 16 million users of the Internet [ii] out of a global population of over 4.5 billion (~.0036 %). Just 7 years later in December 2001 a Neilson/NetRatings survey of the largest 22 industrial nations shows at least 422.4 million Earthlings to be online,[iii] (nearly 10% of the world population). About 140 million of these users are in the United States, with 54% of the total American population connecting to the web [iv] at home, work or school.

The rapid diffusion of the Internet and other digital communication devices compared to the technological advances of other eras is staggering. Telegraph, telephones, radio, television and faxing, all spread into the masses at much slower paces. In 1930, United States census figures found the telephone was in only 40% of American households[v], this more than four decades after its invention.[vi]

The Digital Age has brought us the Internet, cell-phones, personal digital assistants [PDA’s] and an array of other wireless communication devices, which together have fundamentally changed the way much of the human race communicates. Today it is common to see a people fully hooked-up ---with cellphone, e-mail pager, and wireless laptop computer--- communicating away while on an Amtrak train or in a local Starbucks. [vii] It all makes (comic-book detective) Dick Tracy’s telephone-wristwatch look primitive by comparison. We may not have closed the last millennium with colonies on the moon (as many predicted during the space race of the 1960’s), but with the new century the Digital Age allows people instant communication to someone (or some group), through any various means portable media, at will, anytime, anywhere. (Of course as long as the person/people on the other end has a compatible device.[viii]) And all this communicating can be accomplished in volume at an affordable cost. Has this not always been the “holy grail” of the techno-communications industry since early human history? [ix]

Armed simply with laptop computer a person can simultaneously surf the web, talk on the phone ---(as many modern computers have a telephone built in)--- send hundreds of faxes, e-mail thousands (--if not millions--) and do it all without leaving the bed of a hotel room. E-mail has become the cheapest and easiest way ever to send mass communication with the lowest going rate for executing one million e-mails at only $200,[x] making e-mail the first tool of mass communication that is readily and cheaply accessible to the masses. Clearly the media of the Internet and Digital Communications has enormous potential as both a means of political communication and a source of political power and influence. The question is: How will this potential be realized?

[i] During the second half of the 1980’s, I was on staff at the global environmental organization Greenpeace’s New York City office (www.greenpeace). The organization then had it’s own early Internet portal called GREENLINK. Every day after punching in several dozen DOS keyboard commands ---(back then a mouse was only a rodent)-- we printed out Greenpeace’s issue briefings and news releases from around the globe using a dot-matrix printer. Seems like ancient history now.

[ii] Gromov , Gregory R. History of Internet and WWW: The Roads and Crossroads of Internet History

Available @: and last accessed July 3, 2002.

[iii] Mariano, Gwendolyn: Web Usage Grows Across Globe, CNET, June 10, 2002.
June 11 2002 @

[iv] Dreazen, Yochi J. : U.S. Web Usage Hits 54 Percent Report: For first time, more than half of population on Net. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Feb. 4 2002. Via .

Accessed Feb 5 2002 @

(Link not currently active)

[v] United States Census Bureau @ Last accessed June 15, 2002

[vi] Though television's invention was in 1929 it remained commercially dormant for nearly twenty years; until it exploded with an equally astounding place from 1948-1954. Windows and Internet Explorer exploded in use shortly after their invention.

[vii] Wireless Web comes to Starbucks. August 21, 2002

Last accessed August 21, 2002@

[viii] It is possible today for different Digital media to be in use by the communicating parties. For example: I can use my computer to send a e-mail to someone’s e-mail pager. I can also use my email portal to send and receive faxes and I can get e-mail verbally read to me by an electronically generated voice on my cellphone.

[ix] Davis, Richard: The Web Of Politics: The Internet’s Impact on the American Political System. Oxford University Press. Copyright 1999. ISBN: 0-19-511485-X

See pages 28-29 for a brief overview this topic from a political-historical prospective.

[x] Orr, Andrea: Innocent 'Hello' Sells Hot Sex on the Internet.

April 27 2002 , Reuters. Accessed April 28 2002 @ [Link not currently active]

Friday, July 5, 2002

a Danish court ordered an Internet news service to stop linking to Web sites of Danish newspapers

~ `Deep –Linking:

Deep-Linking is what we are doing in many of the endnote embedded hot-links here.

Many commercial website owners want to prevent deep-linking and to instead redirect any traffic linked to their web domain first to their advertisement filled homepage.

Cyber-activists believe the right to deep-link is essential for the World Wide Web to be a truly free place for the exchange of information. Commercial Internet portals believe their copyrights give them the right to control access to their deep-linked information.[15] ~~ tp


[14] For further reading on this important matter, the American Library Association's

website has a page dedicated to Deep-Link issues @ .

Last accessed October 17, 2004.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, July 5 — Challenging the World Wide Web’s fundamental premise of linking, a Danish court ordered an Internet news service to stop linking to Web sites of Danish newspapers. Copenhagen’s lower bailiff’s court ruled Friday that was in direct competition with the newspapers and that the links it provided to specific news articles damaged the value of the newspapers’ advertisements.” FROM: Associated Press. Danish Court Bars Web Site’s Links. News service told to stop linking to Danish newspapers. Last accessed July 5 2002. (Page no longer available) @