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Can the Internet be seen to incorporate or hinder the idea of a democratic society in a global market?

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Can the Internet be seen to incorporate or hinder the idea of a democratic society in a global market? The free flow of information was a promised and promoted doctrine, incorporated into the creation of a global network. The developed Internet allowed participants to provide and consume information in a two-way flow of personal and political global interaction. Langham (1996: 54) suggests the convergence of computers, cable and telephony allows 'access to, and manipulation of, a bounty of information and informational products.' It is '...only one amongst many loosely linked networks capable of sending information and moving images across the world'. (McQueen, 1998: 218). The Internet has been viewed as a 'free-space' unfettered by moral codes, promoted as an information provider and as a new means of accessing information. Eric Hirsch argues personal computers, the Internet, and the 'Information Superhighway' offers novel possibilities for the domestic sphere, perceived as challenging our conventional patterns of domestic consumption centred on broadcast television. Marris and Thornham (2002: 839) view the Net as an 'anarchic, self-organising, system into which its users fuse.' '...The Internet is not a monolithic or placeless 'cyberspace'; rather, it is numerous technologies, used by diverse people, in diverse real-world locations.' ...read more.


(McQuail, 1997: 40). Interactivity is 'the quality of electronically mediated communications characterised by increased control over the communication process by both sender and receiver'. (Neuman, 1991: 104) which 'denotes more self-control, choice, involvement, a richer experience, resistance to influence.' (McQuail, 1997: 144) Peter Golding is sceptical about outcomes such as '...increasing democracy, empowering citizens through accessible information and educational materials, improving communication, being achieved as large-scale private interests dominate the Net, bringing advertising, e-commerce and commodified entertainment services. Chitty (1999) provides a similar argument, 'The Wild Web is being tamed by the webward expansion of commerce, through the kind of content structuration used in the larger media marketplace.' Many believe freedom will fall a victim of technological absurdity as the period of choice and convergence brings 'Privatised choice'. The concept of freedom was a further promise and premise. Miller and Slater (2000: 16) argue 'The Internet has both produced new freedoms and come to stand as a symbol of potential freedoms.' The Net offers the capacity for citizens to talk directly to other citizens without a media or state gatekeeper. McCullagh (2002: 117) questions whether there is evidence that the Net is more open and democratic than conventional media. ...read more.


(McChesney in Herman and Swiss, 2000: 33) Transnational corporations constitute the driving force for the creation of a global marketplace, for a deregulated world arena, and for global production sites selected for profitability and convenience...central considerations behind the National Information Infrastructure' (Schiller in Brook and Boal, 1995: 20) A privately owned and managed information superhighway will be turned towards the interests and needs of the most advantaged sectors of the society. 'The notion of a 'new world' awaiting new-age exploration is a dominant metaphor among Net enthusiasts and commercial enterprises alike...The attraction seems to be that the Net offers us psychological space which...seems in the real world to be more and more restricted'. (Watson, 1998: 262). The future of the Internet and democracy is still unclear, however, the economic market and financial drive looks to steer the communications medium further down the road of commercialisation. It may be that on the one extreme, government continue to restrict from applying legislation to regulate information with large organisations initiating control of such material. The other extreme would illustrate a scenario where the government enforce regulation on all mass media, including the Internet, to hinder the possibility of another medium that is completely dominated by moneymaking schemes. As the development of the Net continues as looks set to saturate, the future of a tool for democracy looks increasingly doubtful. 2 1 ...read more.

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