Monday, June 25, 2012

"The Internet May Have Upended Traditional Institutions, But It’s a Brittle Weapon"

The tools of politics have been greatly  changed by technology during the last decade. How people communicate has changed dramatically as well, with email and cell phones,BlackberrysiPhones and all else.
But even with the election of Barack Obama asPOTUS -- a moderate-center-liberal Democrat -- the power centers of politics in the USA has not really been changed by the Internet. It is still Democrats and Republicans.

Fifty years from now will the discussions in political science classes be: Why has the Digital Age and the Internet failed to produce any great change in Democracy?
Or: Why was it watershed for better Democracy in the United States (and/or other nations)?[36]
There are also those who assert that Democracy will loose out ---and is loosing out--- to the Globalization of the Government and Corporate Techno-Powers.[37] Seeing the distribution ofacademic and political information, news and views on the Web as dominated by a few mega-corporations[38] some believe the question political-science students will be asked on exams is: “Why and how has the Internet changed democracy for the worst?”
Richard Davis, a Professor of Political Science atBrigham Young University, in his book The Web of Politics rightly points out that “each innovation in mass communications” instead of creating new power centers, has simply reinforced the existing Government and media power structures.[39]Davis highlights how the hope of television as a positive force of democratization was torpedoed by the enactment of the of the Equal Time Provision (ETP) by Congress during the 1950’s.[40]Because the ETP required broadcasters to give “equal access” for free time, but not equal access for paid time.


by Jamais Cascio
Jun 25, 2012 4:45 AM EDT
"Despite the Internet’s power, a government bent on control can still shut it down. But rulers quickly discover that doing so harms their own interests, Jamais Cascio writes."

"The notion of the Internet as a force of political and social revolution is not a new one. As far back as the early 1990s, in the early days of the World Wide Web, there were technologists and writers arguing forcefully that the Internet was destined to become the most important tool for cultural change in human history. They were (mostly) right, but not for the reasons they believed; in retrospect, strident manifestos such as John Perry Barlow’s 1996 Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace seem almost preciously naive about the nature of power and participation online. The ability of the Internet to alter the course of nations and economies does not come from being independent of the material world, but from being deeply enmeshed in it."

"In fact, it turns out that the Internet is a rather brittle weapon of transformation. If the icon of revolution in the 20th century was the AK-47, for many observers the 21st century icon is the Internet-connected cameraphone. But the AK-47 is a stand-alone technology. The smartphone, conversely, is completely dependent upon a complex physical infrastructure—cellular towers, mobile network providers, the wires and routers behind it all, and more. Of course, this isn’t just a peculiar limitation of cell phones; every type of Internet technology requires an elaborate physical network in order to function. And as protestors from Tehran to San Francisco have discovered, such networks are easy to shut down"