Wednesday, 28 December 2011

No Different? I think not

Bill Wasik in Wired on Internet Communications
Acts of communication, by themselves, aren’t especially interesting. We’ve always had protests, riots, and revolutions, and the people who carried them out have always found ways to spread the word. If the medium for those communications shifts from word of mouth, to printed flier, to telephone, then to texts and Twitter, what does it really matter? Technology becomes an important part of the story only if it’s changing the nature of the events — and the nature of the social groups that are carrying them out.
The difference is that someone who owns a printing press can't reach such large numbers, can't so easily have their information redistributed, or redistributed across such a multipurpose transport mechanism.

One problem for the internet for governments is that unlike TV or newspapers, you can't so easily control it as state media. Because the internet isn't just about media, but also commerce and something as trivial as someone sending family photos to a friend, and the huge volume of traffic being sent around from so many different locations, it's almost impossible for the state to police. Someone in company A selling canned fruit in the UK can send someone in company B producing fruit in Egypt a photograph or tweet from an anonymous account, and you'll probably never find it amongst the mass of traffic floating around. You'd never find it amongst the millions of emails floating around.

The only solution of a fascist state is to completely shut down the internet, at which point you start to also damage trade because the rest of the world communicates commerce via the net. 

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