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  • Clive 1:55 pm on January 15, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , politics, ,   

    ‘Trust’ in offline/online media 

    Trustworthiness in the Fourth and Fifth Estates by Richard Collins

    International Journal of Communication 2 (2009), 61-86

    • Discusses ‘trust’ in sociological literature and links to discussions of social capital
    • Examines trust and the mainstream media/How trustworthy is the media?
    • Looks at the ways a dialogic, web 2.o media landscape can meet criteria of trustworthyness
    • Gives examples of such media in the UK

    Useful article, good links and bibliography. But doesn’t have the insiders bite of Nick Davies.

  • Clive 4:46 pm on January 12, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , , politics,   

    Prometheus Wired – Darin Barney 

    ‘a meditation upon the economic, ontological,
    and political conditions necessary for democratic self-government, the failure of the modern
    technological world to meet those conditions, and the likelihood that networks, as a technology,
    will perpetuate rather than alleviate that failure (268).’

    Barney’s explicit goal is to debunk those who have been preaching about the innately prodemocratic, nonhierarchical, chaotic infrastructure of the Internet. He contends that the new computer networks are producing greater alienation among workers and greater mastery over citizens.

    The result of this new information and communication technology has not been to free and  empower ordinary people but to tighten the screws and make their global economic and political rulers richer and less visible than ever before.

    Insofar as they bolster the already formidable control of capital over the means of power, computer networks are an essentially conservative, not revolutionary, technology—conservative, that is, of the prevailing liberal and capitalist order (p. 188).

    If citizens struggle to gain power in the capitalist or quasi-capitalist societies they are presently living in how are they likely to gain more with a network technology that further alienates and disaggregates them?

    The control mechanism at the hear of network technology is for Barney anathema to democracy.

    It’s a powerful treatise especially in its use of Heidegger and Marx to marshall arguments from other technological periods and political philosophy. The same holds true today according to Barney but simply to perfect capitalism in a friction-free way.

    The question to be asked of his thesis though is whether, in the light of this perfection of capitalism, democracy can renew itself and propose new forms that can harness the potential for a more positive view of communication technologies to enhance democratic processes. Despite all the activism/hacktivism and online experimentation however, the jury is still out.

  • Clive 4:42 pm on January 7, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , , politics, ,   

    Radical Democracy & the Internet Ch 12 

    Chapter 12: Internet Piracy as Radical Democracy Mark Poster

    Compares the music and film industries attempt to control peer-to-peer file sharing to Soviet control of information. The Soviets struggled to control the reproducing and disseminating capacities of machines in order to keep control at the centre and maintain culture as it was at the beginning of socialist society. The losing of that battle contributed to the collapse of the Soviet state. Poster argues that with the fialure of the Digital Millenium Copywrite Act and the subsequent court action against individuals and service providers we are seeing the same thing – the Corporate Entertainment State is on the brink of collapse. The rear-guard action it is fighting involves the claim that innovative information and communication technology (P2P networks) should be restrained/curtailed in the interesting of protecting the property rights of the few and maintaining the status quo of rich pickings for the corporations and their shareholders – though couched in an argument for creativity and the protection of artists’ rights. Poster argues that those technological innovations will lead to greater creativity and more artistic activity as the printing press led to more writing and more reading by a wider and more empowered public.

    1. new technologies lead to disruptions to old ways of doing things – though what emerges as this unfolds is unpredictable

    2. digitisation leads to BOTH more control by the state and corporations over information and communication AND empowers people to create, reproduce and distribute information in ways that gives them more freedom of control over cultural objects.

    > It seems that way Mark, but is it not simply that the perception of freedom is as manufactured as was/is the freedom to consume which has been the backbone to capitalist expansion over the past 150 years? Don’t we just feel more empowered but in fact that power is within pre-detirmined parameters – parameters not of our choosing?

    He also uses the arguments initially used by Lessig over the ways that digitisation has changed the market by making the notion of scarcity redundant – digital artifacts are not subject to the laws of scarcity in the ways that anaologue artifacts are. And he combines it with the blurring of the boundaries between producer and consumer offered most forcefully by Bruns’ idea of ‘produsage’.

    > Lessig’s argument is strong though he often seems to under-emphasise the notion that the network itself is a cultural artifact that is someone’s private property (and that someone is constantly trying to reclaim the rights to that property). Zittrain is an ally here arguing for the need to force governments and corporations to resist an encroachment of the commons.

    Here’s a section on the Commons from ‘The Corporation’:

    The question is whether, with a political system (liberalism) shoring up an economic system (capitalism) in which are enshrined principles of deregulation, privatization and free trade, we are really deluding ourselves in thinking that the digital commons hasn’t already been enclosed.

    3 arguments against the use of the notion that P2P is crippling artists’ royalties gained through copyright:

    1. It is not clear why artists should recieve compensation for the reproduction of their work. Performances, yes – but reproductions?

    2.P2P does not involve the sale of commodities and is not therefore not applicable to copywrite law – their is no material substance as in a book and does not enter into a market of scarcity

    3. The creation of art is always about sharing and incurring debts to others – the creative, innovative process is a collective process. See Sawyers Group Genius for examples of this.

    He then goes on to outline the nature of P2P networks and what they can and do do and argues that they are developing a new form of public space where the dominant system of cultural exchange is ‘sharing’. This allows him to argue that such spaces and systems could afford new possibilities for radical democracy.

    His conclusion:

    Digital cultural objects enable the constitution of subjects in broader and more heterogenous forms than modern culture with its fixed objects and delimited identities. The new subjects might be capable of participating in radical democracy understood as the substantial empowerment of the population. At stake in the evolution of file sharing and other features of networked computing is a new culture of mobile and fluid selves, one less beholden to the constraints of modern and even postmodern subject positions.

    Hasn’t convinced me that his argument thus far could lead to such a conclusion – those arguments are probably contained in his book,
    Information Please: Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines.

  • Clive 11:52 am on December 30, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , , , politics   

    Media Research from Cardiff School of Journalism 

    The Quality and Independence of British Journalism

    Source: Cardiff School of Journalism, Justin Lewis, Bob Franklin, Andrew Williams, James Thomas, Nick Mosdell

    Download research file (573K)


    Report by Cardiff University’s School of Journalism analysing the quantity of public relations material and news agency copy within news output, measuring the changing number of journalists employed by major news organisations, and illustrating the role of PR in news based on three case studies.

    The key findings are that:

    • Journalists are producing more copy: ‘While the number of journalists in the national press has remained fairly static, they now produce three times as much copy as they did twenty years ago’
    • A majority of the output is based on news agency copy or public relations material: ‘60% of press articles and 34% of broadcast stories come wholly or mainly’ from either PR material or news agency copy
    • ‘The most PR influenced topic was health, followed closely by consumer/business news and entertainment/sport’

    The statistics regarding the use of PR material were based on an analysis of 2,207 stories from five national newspapers. 71% of these were ‘standard news articles’, most of the rest news in briefs. The broadcast analysis was based on 402 TV news items.

  • Clive 3:01 pm on December 9, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , politics, ,   

    Radical Democracy & the Internet Ch 5 

    Chapter 5: Online direct action: Hacktivism and Radical Democracy Tim Jordan

    Difference: between hacktivism and hacking a) hacktivists speak out on politics b) hacktivists connect political action to spheres beyond informational freedoms.

    Jordan identified two trends in hacktivism:

    1. Mass Action hacktivism

    The translation of offline mass protests (especially non-violent direct action) online. Examples:

    a) Electronic Disturbance Theatre.

    One of the elements of my work since the ’80s is what happens to the social space of critique and protest when the physical avenues have been shut down physically and emotionally. This leads to the question of electronic civil disobedience: to what degree can virtual landscapes of critique be used to amplify and route around the lockdown that’s happening at this university? In the best of all worlds, this would also allow a teleportation between data bodies in protest and real bodies in protest.

    Electronic civil disobedience is a fearless space that allows one, nonviolently, to protest in ways that are no longer allowable in real space. This seems to me to become extremely important in our post-contemporary period. To a certain degree, I find that students, because we are in this kind of electro-scape, would be more willing to risk having a voice as a group if that voice is digitally represented (through, for example, MySpace or Facebook).

    From an interview with Prof. Ricardo Dominguez, principal investigator at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology and an assistant professor for UCSD’s visual arts department.)

    b) Electrohippies anti-World Trade Organisation action which broad down the WTO network in Seattle. It did so not by using bots to enact a DDoS attack but by aggregating actual users in flooding the site with requests, hence bringing it down. So it is in the numbers of mass protest that effectiveness is produced, where its symbolic capital is stored – not the technological ‘solution’.

    2. Digital correctness

    Less of an attempt to simulate offline mass direct action online than to assertions of liberty and the rights to an uncensored internet. It’s about beating the censor. Examples are:

    • Peekabooty network is a peer-to-peer network which its developers (a hacking community called the cult of the dead cow) claims will evade all attempts to censor/block traffic (see Guardian report).
    • Torpark – anonymous Web-browser based on Firefox that uses the TOR (The Onion Router) network. It comes pre-configured, requires no installation, can run off a USB memory stick, and leaves no tracks behind in the browser or computer.
    • ScatterChat is a secure instant messaging client designed for non-technical users who require secure and anonymous communications.
    • Camera/Shy enables users to share censored information with their friends by hiding it in plain view as ordinary gif images.

    See http://www.hacktivismo.com/projects/index.php

    Jordan then looks at the antagonisms between the two trends and how they contribute to Laclau and Mouffe’s conception of radical democracy – ie the extent to which both trends extend liberty and equality in relation to the social identities destabilised by capitalims. Conclusion: unclear how their contribution can be evaluated.

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