- In relation to new media technologies
- In relation to how we perceive news sources
- In relation to how we define journalists
o From broadcast to narrowcast
- From push to pull
- ‘One-size-fits-all’ to customisation
- Mass media to micro-targeted media
Dialectic: thinking systematically using a process of logic – the predominant force, idea,
movement, or paradigm (thesis) is challenged by an opposing force, idea, movement or
paradigm (antithesis) which results in a third new force, idea, movement or paradigm
(synthesis) and this in turn becomes the new predominant force (a process of creation and
resolution of contradictions - Hegel)
Hegel: conceptualised the dialectic at the level of ideas; Marx and Engels transformed it into a
theory of human development, change and history
Idealism: the worldview in which all manifestations of reality actually stem from the thought
process of human beings, rather than from their material circumstances – “People are greedy,
that’s just human nature” (the opposite of materialism)
Ideology: a worldview based on principles or intuitions that may or may not be logical or
internally consistent (promoted through popular media)
Materialism: the philosophical mode of that that suggests that events, situations, and
relationships in the real, physical world determine human consciousness and thinking (our
senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste – objects that are composed of matter)
The notion of ‘the material’ and the way in which the question is asked of who owns the
technologies of production is fundamental to any understanding of economics, and, in
particular, of media and communication in modern capitalist societies.
Meme: a small but powerful chunk of ideological ‘DNA’ that carries ideas, meanings, trends,
and fashions through both time and space via the process of mimetic (imitative) transfer – can
be generated by hegemonic or subversive social forces and usually transported via the various
communication vectors of the mass media, narrowcasting and popular culture (a thought or
idea that spreads throughout society in an almost unconscious way - Dawkins)
Vector: a pathway/pathways open for communication, in particular the transmission of
ideology via mimetic transfer and mutation (controlled by individuals and corporations with a
strong vested interest in circulating mimetic codes favourable to their interests) – can either be
hegemonic or subversive (television vs. alternative radio stations).
Main idea of Communist Manifesto: the configuration of any social systems is historically
determined by the relationship between human beings and nature (has been mediated by
Control of the means of communication (as a subset of the means of production) is vital to the
hegemony exercised by the ruling class.
Information Revolution: the ideological and mimetic manifestation of a shift in the relations of
production that has been under way within the capitalist mode of production for most of the
past 60 years – there is a new technological dialectic at play that is replacing the previously
hegemonic industrial-technical relations and forces of productions.
The emerging meme is much more controlled and commercial; it is the meme of the
‘knowledge society’ and it is heavily supported by both governments and companies who
invest in the digital communication technologies
At each historical stage we can also trace the mimetic messages along the lines of ‘radio will
replace newspapers’, ‘television will replace radio’ and ‘video killed the radio stars’. Today’s
version is more sophisticated; it suggests that these various media will coexist with the
Internet and wireless communication for the foreseeable future.
Our view of the world is conditioned by the distancing effect of the mass media, and
information only reaches us via the well-established vectors built around information
Thus, there is a tension between our physical experiences and what they tell us about the world
around us, and the mediated view presented via the externally (to our lives) controlled vectors
of mass communication.
One important aspect of this emerging and powerful dialectic is that it has fundamentally
altered the vectors by which the mutating and mutable social memes are transmitted to new
hosts and reinforced or modified in existing hosts.
In the case of digital media, the technologies themselves are often the vectors.
Technology, if it is not properly understood and consciously managed, can alter the meaning
of words we take for granted (freedom, truth, intelligence, fact, wisdom, memory and history)
This process of technologies converging and changing how we think and how we view the
world happens because tools, while they may appear as innate and useful objects, are actually
the result of a social process of invention and application.
The concepts of memes and vectors can be applied to assist our understanding of media and
communications. In the age of narrowcasting, audience members are individually targeted for
media content and are constituted as consumers rather than citizens.
Chapter 5 (+ lecture slides)
“Technology develops as the sole result of an internal dynamic and then, unmediated by any
other influence, molds society to fit its patterns” (Winner, 1988, p. 35).
“Technologies are neutral tools and… non-technological forces such as social class, political
power, or even individual personalities have an independent effect on how they are designed
and controlled” (Chadwick, p. 18).
Printing: the first revolution in the means of communicating information
Broadsheet: a newspaper format in which each page is approximately A2 size – regarded as
an upmarket form.
Tabloid (compact): a newspaper format based on a page size approximately A3 – regarded as
a downmarket form, which is associated with journalistic practices such as beat-ups and
Historical development in print media
o Major historical figures:
- Johann Gutenberg: developed printing press
- Lord Northcliffe: first media ‘baron’ – developed the economic
organisation of the press: the rise of advertising and the development of
- William Randolph Hearst: Developed popular journalism, mass appeal,
‘battle for circulation’ (broadsheet vs. ‘yellow’ journalist/tabloids)
- Rupert Murdoch: current dominant media ‘baron’ – welcomes new
technological developments, has close political ties (e.g. Margaret
By the beginning of the 20th century the main characteristics of the modern press had been
o the relationship between media and public opinion;
o the power of the media to influence policy-making;
o the links between the press and commercial concerns;
o the role of media owners whose power was seen to derive from a concentration of
ownership of many media outlets.
The print media’s current climate:
o The number of daily newspapers is down; baby-boomers are the last great newspaper-
o newspapers must find a way to compete with the internet as a medium for the delivery
of news and information
o content of broadsheets and tabloids is becoming less distinguishable; newspaper
credibility is down
Font (typefont/typeface): the characteristic styling of the letters of the alphabet, particularly
through the ascenders and descenders of individual letters, to create a particular look (serif:
with curly bits; sans serif: without curly bits).
Killer application: a computer application that revolutionizes the use of the computer system
and renders redundant previous applications (spreadsheets/word processing, Internet browsers
and search engines)
Typography: the study, or the art, of understanding and creating typefonts.
It is not until the invention of moveable type and the printing press that communication media
became independent of their site of production – modern mass communication is the liberation
of the communication form from its place of creation
As time has passed, the place of production has become even less important to the form of
Periodicals: newspapers, weeklies, magazines, etc., with a defined interval/period between
The development of printing (Gutenberg) had a number of immediate cultural effects:
o It encouraged literacy
o It disseminated ideas more rapidly
o It fostered greater standardisation of texts (which has previously been copied by hand)
o It also had a profound effect on the intellectual and political order of the day
o It also had a social effect – reading was no longer confined to high-class males
o The writer of Robinson Crusoe
o Seen as ‘father of modern journalism’:
o Was a prolific pamphleteer and propagandist
o Was also a satirist, who savaged the attitudes of the Anglican establishment – for this
he got arrested and imprisoned
o Produced a periodical called Review, upon which is reputation as a journalist is based
o Was a indefatigable proponent of the freedom of the press, which was often portrayed
in his essays
The history of journalism and the news media can only be fully appreciated if one takes into
account ‘the countervailing pulls on the mass media’ exercised by public opinion on one hand
and ‘powerful institutions in society’ on the other.
The convergence of printing with two other technological innovations, the electric telegraph
and the photograph (railways also had an influence), gave rise to mass circulation newspapers
in the late 19th century.
“We define journalism in America as the business and practice of presenting the news of the
day in the interest of economic privilege” – political economy view (Sinclair)
Due to a lack of equipment and resources in the years before and just after WWI,
newsgathering became much more about the transfer of information from similarly equipped
centres of influence – the government bureaucracy and the large commercial firm – than a
process of gathering from observation and discussion with ordinary people out on the street.
While the shifting technologies were important, the most decisive shift was a social one:
reporters were no longer part of the audience they reported for; they were much more closely
aligned to the interests they worked for and more likely to share the worldview of the
The bias in the modern press has become pro-business and anti-labour - ‘Empire of Business’;
exercised four types of control over journalism in newspapers and magazines (Sinclair):
o Ownership of the papers o Advertising subsidies
o Ownership of the owners o Direct bribery
By these methods there exists in America a control of news of current comment more absolute
than any monopoly in any other industry (Sinclair)
Two factors influencing newspapers/magazines: circulation (advertising) and credibility
Technological change is continuous; new technologies continue to create new syntheses, even
in the oldest of the mass media (print)
The print media play a role in promoting liberty and democracy
Plutocracy inhibits the promotion of liberty
Issues of circulation and credibility have challenged the dominant agenda-setting function of
the print media
Analogue: a mechanical technology used to transmit sound, light, temperature, position, or
pressure – a wave that is measured by variations in time and amplitude during transmission,
rather than by the binary system (which is the basis of digital technology).
Digital: electronic technology that works using binary code to store and transmit data using
only two states: ‘positive’ (1) and ‘non-positive’ (0) – is primarily used with new
communications media (e.g. mobile phones, satellite and fibre optic transmission)
Pixel: a dot that is the smallest single identifiable element of an image of picture – the greater
the number of pixels per square inch (PSI) the clearer the image will reproduce (used in digital
Camera obscura: an ancient form of reprographic technology (using a darkened room that
allows the external image to be reproduced on the opposite wall).
Half-tone: a series of black and white dots used to simulate grey in the reproduction of black-
and-white images. The denser the black dots, the darker that section the image; the more
frequent the white dots, the lighter that section of the image would be when printed.
Photogravure: a mechanical method of printing images whereby a negative of the image is
transferred to a printing plate by means of an acid etching process – enabled the widespread
publication of photographs in newspapers, magazines and books.
Celluloid: a form of plastic, from which film was originally made in pre-digital times – a way
of describing the world of film and its ephemeral character.
Successive innovations and the convergence of printing and photographic reproduction
technologies enabled newspapers to thrive. (Do newspapers/magazines shape its host country
through its images, or does the host country shape the images of the newspapers/magazines?)
Greatest landscape photographer of the 20th century: Ansel Adams
Photography was first devoted to portraiture and landscape, but it did not take long for
enterprising practitioners to glimpse the possibility of using it to bring news images to the
public (e.g. war coverage).
Example: photo coverage on 1850s Crimean War by Roger Fenton (and others) – photographs
were not allowed to contain images that were likely to disturb the (British) public.
The US Civil War (1861-65) brought images of death and destruction to a wider audience, as
Matthew Brady exposed around 7000 negatives of this conflict.
This had the same effect as the television images of the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam, as it
provoked anti-war opinion in the United States
Through the process of the convergence, the newspaper printing press caught up with
photography, and it created a new wave of interest in the work of photographers.
Dramatic incidents caught in the glare of a newshound’s flash became the staple of the 1920s
‘yellow press’ in America and established the tradition of tabloid news ‘splashes’ on the front
page of the daily paper; only a short time later these gave rise to the ‘paparazzi’.
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004): a journalist who used a camera and travelled the world to
Robert Capa: one of the greatest war photographers of the 20th century
Cecil Beaton (1904-80): a celebrity photographer who is best known for making an impact on
the American public (together with radio journalist Ed Murrow) with a controversial
photograph that pushed the US into WWII in 1941.
Helmut Newton (1920-2004): a photographer whose work bridges photography, art, erotica,
and even pornography (worked for Vanity Fair)
Richard Young: a famous British paparazzo photographer
Paparazzi: the photographers (often freelance) who photograph celebrities, preferably at
moments when those celebs would prefer not to be photographed
While newspapers and serious journalism appear to be languishing, gossip magazines are
thriving – this tells us a lot about people and their media consumption habits in the age of
narrowcasting: we have short attention spans and a healthy appetite for prying into the lives of
the rich and vacuous – leads to ‘citizen paparazzi’.
The two great directors of the first phase of the Australian film industry were Charles Chauvel
and Ken G. Hall.
Cinema and the State (1): The cinema (established after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917)
was mainly used as a means for propaganda, which was used by the Moscow Film School (led
by Lev Kuleshov) and was highly influenced by Stalinism. Eisenstein created a unique film
technique which followed the ideas of ‘socialist realism’ (reductionism in which the artistic
medium served the purposes and values of totalitarian state power – propaganda)
Cinema and the State (2): the immediate postwar period saw a fear of communism whipped
up by both religious and political protagonists (McCarthy) and many Hollywood actors and
producers were convicted or blacklisted. (McCarthyism: the importance of mass
communication in promoting and maintaining the dominant ideology – anti-communism).
1970s: Golden Age in Australian film
Digital techniques have altered the creative language of cinema
Hollywood is a booming film industry and well-known throughout the world, which is now
receiving some resistance from countries wishing to preserve and promote their own culture
(and film industry), or who have opposing values (e.g. Muslim countries)
Article: Convergence culture in the creative industries – Mark Deuze
What happens when the enforcing and resisting of power occurs simultaneously through
Examples of an emerging convergence culture in the mediamaking process:
o Bluffton Today (journalism)
o Amazon (marketing)
o Counter-Strike (computer games)
o CPB Group (advertising)
o Participation as a value and expectation in journalism was first established through
letters to the editor sections in newspapers
o It later expanded to include functions (e.g. newspaper ombudsmen, reader
o In television, news participation gets established through opinion polls, viewer tip
hotlines and more recently by soliciting citizens to submit their own photos and videos
o Online, media participation can be seen as the defining characteristic of the internet in
terms of its hyperlinked, interactive and networked infrastructure and digital culture
The mass media (broadcast) system is gradually giving way to more interactive,
narrowcast/multicast media ecology, dominated by a blend of large multinational corporations
and grassroots initiatives.
Media participation is a phenomenon at once top-down and bottom-up, involving both elites
and the masses.
o A top-down corporate-driven process and a bottom-up consumer-driven process.
o Media companies are learning how to accelerate the flow of media content across
delivery channels to expand revenue opportunities, broaden markets and reinforce
o Consumers are learning how to use different media technologies to bring the flow of
media more fully under their control and to interact with other users.
Two strands of how people respond and give meaning to the role the media play in our
everyday lives (Jenkins):
o How (new) media enable/force us to retreat in a personal information space, where we
exercise a degree of control over what we watch and what we hear, what we keep,
discard or forward – in journalism: reporter’s role as ‘gatekeeper’ (monitoring rather
than reporting news, managing rather than filtering information).
o The current media environment as one where people are increasingly engaged in the
collaborative production of ‘we media’ (e.g. Wikipedia), seemingly for not other
motives than peer recognition and reputation
‘Open and closed media’: the extent to which a given media company shares some or all of
its modes of operation with its target audiences.
The same communication technologies that enable interactivity and participation are wielded
to foster the entrenchment and growth of a global corporate media system that can be said to
be anything but transparent, interactive or participatory (McChesney and Schiller)
Five corporations – Time Warner, Disney, NewsCorp, Bertelsmann and Viacom – control
most of the media industry in the US and, indeed, across the globe (Bagdikian)
This control must not be exaggerated, however, as evidence shows that worldwide media
consolidation and increased diversity of choice or genuine competition in the production and
distribution of content are not detested – these trends must be seen as co-existing and
The work of authors in various fields defines media content in this context interchangeably as:
Researchers in different disciplines signal an industry-wide turn towards the consumer as co-
creator of the corporate product, particularly where the industry’s core commodity is
Editors of news publications are increasingly expected to develop ‘citizen journalism’
initiatives in order to reconnect to disappearing audiences, following the advice of researchers
at institutions such as the American Press Institute, who conclude that ‘to stay afloat, media
companies must reimagine storytelling forms to vie for consumer attention […] and they must
react to the consumer’s creation of content with awe and respect’
This shifts towards a more engaged, emancipatory and participatory relationship between
media professionals and their publics an example of a ‘new humanism’ in the domains of
public relations, journalism and advertising, constituting ‘an antidote to narrow corporate-
centric ways of representing interests in modern society’.
It is important to note here how convergence culture signifies increased as well as diminished
corporate control over the creative media making process at the same time.
o Media companies operating in fields as diverse and interconnected as public relations,
marketing, advertising and journalism traditionally have been considered as cultural
industries, representing those companies and professions primarily responsible for the
industrial production and circulation of culture
o Defined by the British Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 1998 as “those
industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which
have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of
o The concept of creative industries aims to reconcile the emergence of increasingly
individual and small-scale, project-based or collaborative notions of commercial and
non-commercial media production with institutionalized notions of cultural
production as it exclusively takes place within the cultural industries.
Considering the implications of convergence culture for media work in the creative industries
when analyzing these cases, several observations stand out:
o all of these cases are distinctly commercial in character and hugely successful at that –
the ‘product’ in these cases is collaboratively constituted out of the interactions
between producers and consumers and within consumer communities online.
o the engagement of consumers and producers occurs in ‘networked individualism’ (in a
digital culture people interact, collaborate and engage, but tend to do so strictly
individually, enacting their own interests – news, aspect of game, online product)
o the relationship between media industry and consumer has traditionally been
established on the basis of hierarchy (e.g. at Amazon, user reviews are organized
hierarchically through the ratings of other reviewers)
o the roles of the ‘consumer’ and ‘producer’ are constantly shifting
To some extent a political economy of media should still emphasise the powerful hold that
multinational corporations have over multiple public spheres, shaping popular reality with a
deliberate focus to sell audiences as target demographics to advertisers.
On the other hand, this one-dimensional view of media power has changed, as the agricultural
metaphor of production and consumption is increasingly becoming an untenable assumption
on which to base our understandings of media content, effects and particularly media work.
Chapter 7 (+ lecture slides)
Telegraphy: the transmission of data over purpose-built data lines (copper wires) using Morse
code – a binary technology (developed in 1835):
o Telegraphy was an important component of the global infrastructure needed to build
the emerging system of mass industrial development
o researchers argue that the new ‘information’ economy is a necessary adjunct to
globalisation – the telegraph established a new global information code that facilitated
the circulation of capital (money) and economic control (imperialism).
o The involvement of the US government in seed-funding the diffusion of telegraphy
was crucial in the ‘golden age’ of ‘liberal capitalism’.
o The telegraph was a key technology in the development of the global system of
nation-states based the ‘industro-military’ tendencies of the 19th century capitalism
o Telegraphy was also an important factor in the rapid industrialisation of the United
States, facilitated by the new (privately owned) communication technologies
o The telegraph was an important factor in military affairs, as it was in commerce as war
became increasingly systematised in the late 19th century.
o It also created the golden age of war correspondents at the turn of the century, because
reports could be sent from the front lines within days, instead of weeks or months.
o The telephone and the advent of data transmission via computers over the telephony
system was the climate change that turned telegraphy into a ‘dinosaur’.
o The telegraph was a technology that assisted the rapid expansion of modern
imperialism by facilitating commercial transactions over great distances.
Radio: transmission or broadcast of sound by wireless or a device for receiving such
transmissions – the intentional and programmatic broadcasting of information via a radio
broadcasting station dedicated to that purpose:
o the creation of the commercial radio industry occurred in America between the end of
WWI and the start of WWII – went from being a tool for law enforcement and
military command to being one of the most widely accepted domestic appliances,
services and social routines of the 20th century.
o The convergence of the phonograph, and later the gramophone, with the technologies
of radio transmission that gave commercial radio broadcasting its biggest boost.
o First intercontinental radio transmission – from Cornwall to Newfoundland in 1901
o KDKA (Pennsylvania): first commercial radio station
o Shift from AM to FM in the 1970s and 1980s.
Institutional models of the radio:
o The Commercial Model: commercial groups see radio broadcasting as a means of
making profit, which led to content being created which met the requirements of the
audience’s and advertiser’s demands – dependent on advertising (e.g. USA)
o The Public Service Broadcasting Model: financing came from royalties from wireless
sets and broadcast licenses (e.g. BBC: publicly funded, not dependent on advertising)
Impacts and Significance of the Radio:
o Politics: politicians are able to speak directly to the audience and can avoid media
o Consumerism: advertising is the basis of (American) radio access to nationwide
Changes in radio
o Family (collective) listening to individual listening
o Audience fragmentation
o Reliance on ratings
Broadcasting: to scatter/cast widely:
o The message (program) is published (broadcast) to a wide audience via electronic
signals origination form a single source. (e.g. radio and television)
o Also linked to the concept of publishing in the print media
o Broadcasting was, according to Sir John Reith (driving force behind the BBC), about
creating and preserving cultural capital; it was about education and edification, not
o Many politicians use the medium of radio to sell their policies, gather support and
reassure the people (e.g. Roosevelt, Churchill) – way of bypassing the gatekeepers of
print and current affairs television, to be able to speak directly to the public.
o Radio piracy: younger audiences wished to enjoy greater freedoms in their available
broadcast, and started their own broadcasts. First pirate radio: ‘This is Radio Caroline’
Public Service Broadcasting: a broadcasting regime funded by the citizens (the public) by
taxes or other means of public subscription such as license fees (e.g. BBC, ABC, PBS).
Podcasting: a digital audio technology that enable listeners to download material from the
Internet for time-shift listening using a digital media player
o Represents shift from broadcasting to podcasting
o One of the most important forms of narrowcasting – it exemplifies the paradigm shift
in media as a result of digital convergence
o Current copyright laws for recorded music make it difficult and expensive to obtain
the relevant permissions to podcast music.
o This highlights one of the continuing contradictions in digital convergence: the time-
lag between the technology and the regulatory and legal frameworks in which it
Television: an electrically powered box of valves, clops, tubes, vacuums and wires, used
mainly for home entertainment, and occasionally for receiving information from a number of
central source known as television broadcasters:
o Television is the product of convergence in technologies (audio and film recording;
the development of broadcast transmission and, later, video)
o It is also a cultural convergence that has cannibalized other forms of media, including
the stage and music hall variety show, radio news bulletins, film and drama (Hall)
o Williams: studied the technology and the cultural forms of television in the 1960s and
- Emphasises the importance of studying cause and effect (the dialectic of
contradiction and creative tension)
- Understanding cause and effect is the key to asking the right questions
about technology (including how it is used; the institutions that bring it
into being; the impact it has on patterns of consumption, work and leisure,
and the content and form of the medium).
- This should be studied within the relationship between ‘technology’ and ‘a
social, a culture and a psychology’.
- These connections are both ‘theoretical’ and ‘immensely practical’.
- Is critical of the ‘symptomatic’ view of technology: where change is
caused by events and processes outside the realm of scientific discovery
and innovation. –according to Williams this is an early form of the
cultural determinist/technological determinist argument.
- The problem with this view is that technology is seen as a matter which is
not influenced by social changes, and that technological innovations
would take place regardless of social circumstances.
- To escape this ‘determinist trap’: adding the concept of ‘intention’ to the
dialectical process of research and development: technology is developed
consciously and designed with certain (productive) purposes and (social)
practices already in mind.
o The key cultural form of television is determined by the social relations of capitalist
production: television is dominated by market relations and by the need to sell both
programmes and viewers to advertisers.
o This dominant economic function of television (and all commercial television) sits in
dialectical tension with its public service role as a communication resource that promotes
US: commercial television developed similarly to that of radio (1)
o Broadcasting systems privately owned
o Funded through advertising sales
o Very little government regulation (only Federal Communications Commission)
o Network affiliations
It is a myth that in a free-market economy the market somehow produces the scientific
knowledge that can be commercialised – most technological innovations are state-sponsored.
Phonograph: one of the earliest mechanical devices for reproducing recorded music (Edison,
Phonograph Gramophone Electromagnetic tape-recording/playback system LP
Eight-track tape cartridge – Tape cassette Compact disc MP3 Podcasting (iPod)
Bourdieu: “With we are dealing with an instrument that offers, theoretically, the possibility of
This brings up a number of questions:
o Is what I have to say meant to reach everybody?
o Am I ready to make what I say understandable by everybody?
o Is it worth being understood by everybody?
o Should it be understood by everybody?
In the real world of television these questions are asked every day about every
programming decision in every television network around the globe (censorship and
‘Tabloid television’ (Langer): television that focuses on bad news stories, leavened with
entertaining stories and material that reaffirms the values of the market economy.
ENG (‘electronic newsgathering’): a process which may use a variety of different equipment,
but all of them begin with a television camera – news production through electronic devices
(television, radio, etc.)
Television news used to be a difficult and expensive process, and took a while to travel
distances and become created. Now, it is now global and almost instantaneous (24/7),
Globalisation is a product of both technological and commercial convergence and it has
permanently altered the process of the production, dissemination, and consumption of news.
The constant among all this is change is that news broadcasts on commercial television must
remain profitable. In order to remain profitability, the cultural form of television news has
been radically altered over the past 20 years – globally, it has been ‘downsized’ and news
values have been shifted from ‘hard’ news to ‘softer’ and ‘lifestyle’ stories.
The other benefit (to the corporate owners) of this form of news is that it is hardly likely to
create any controversy that can upset the all-important advertisers.
In short, television is moving away from being a public service information provider to being
a medium designed purely for entertainment.
Reality television: a genre of television drama that purports to be a ‘fly on the wall’ rendering
of the activities of non-professional actors in contrived situations. More easily understood as a
postmodern form of ‘game show’ genre.
‘Brain rot’: the values of entertainment television (fame, novelty and fun) have become
dominant in television content.
The development of broadcast technologies follows the familiar pattern of technological and
Television is a ‘hybrid’ cultural form that borrows from many earlier forms of media and
entertainment (e.g. theatre).
The technology and the political economy of television are moving the media away from the
‘public service’ model of broadcasting towards being mainly an entertainment medium.
Issues concerning broadcasting:
o The concept of narrowcasting – the age of mass broadcasting is perhaps coming to an
o The issue of technological convergence: the coming together of telecommunications,
computing, and broadcasting
o What influences what?
- Technology Society
- People shape technology
- Technology can be directed towards different norms
- Technology is part of the struggle for political power in society
Article: Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business - Chris Anderson
Thanks to Gillette, the idea that you can make money by giving something away is no longer
radical (e.g. give away the cell phone, sell the monthly plan)
Cross-subsidy: You'd get one thing free if you bought another, or you'd get a product free only
if you paid for a service.
The new, current model is based not on cross-subsidies — the shifting of costs from one
product to another — but on the fact that the cost of products themselves is falling fast.
The rise of "freeconomics" is being driven by the underlying technologies that power the Web.
Just as Moore's law dictates that a unit of processing power halves in price every 18 months,
the price of bandwidth and storage is dropping even faster. Which is to say, the trend lines that
determine the cost of doing business online all point the same way: to zero.
Technology does more and more for less and less, bringing the marginal costs of technology in
the units that we individuals consume closer to zero.
The result is that we now have not one but two trends driving the spread of free business
models across the economy. The first is the extension of King Gillette's cross-subsidy to more
and more industries. Technology is giving companies greater flexibility in how broadly they
can define their markets, allowing them more freedom to give away products or services to
one set of customers while selling to another set.
The second trend is simply that anything that touches digital networks quickly feels the effect
of falling costs. There's nothing new about technology's deflationary force, but what is new is
the speed at which industries of all sorts are becoming digital businesses and thus able to
exploit those economics.
What's free: any product that entices you to pay for something else.
Free to whom: everyone willing to pay eventually, one way or another.
Zero marginal cost
What's free: things that can be distributed without an appreciable cost to anyone.
Free to whom: everyone.
What's free: Web sites and services.
Free to whom: all users, since the act of using these sites and services actually creates
something of value.
What's free: the whole enchilada, be it open source software or user-generated content.
Free to whom: everyone.
Article: Why Culture Isn’t Free – Andrew Keen
Global change threatens to fundamentally change movies – digital revolution (the revolt of a
naively idealistic Internet generation against traditional mainstream media.)
Once content is digitalized and distributed on the Internet, it becomes harder and harder for its
owners to protect the financial value of their product.
For better or worse, the digital revolution may well represent the long-term death knell of the
old mass media copy economy. And it’s this reality that is the cause and effect of both the
dramatic rise and the increasing social acceptance of intellectual property theft.
Digital technology has made content protection unenforceable. We are free to wander up and
down its virtual aisles, freely taking whatever movies and songs we want without minimal fear
of detection or punishment.
But it is "control"—economic, political and, above all, cultural control—that is the primary
enemy of the digital rebels.
To critics of "authoritarian" mainstream media like Lessig, today’s Internet technology is the
great emancipator, the enabler of the digital rebellion.
Internet technology allows anyone to publish anything they like on the Internet. To borrow
Lessig’s anatomical metaphor, ordinary citizens have been given back their vocal chords. –
Author and audience therefore converge together in a deafening cacophony of user-generated
content. Everyone is broadcasting simultaneously. Our collective vocal chords are now in
overdrive. All is noise.
The problem with the cult of the remix, however, is that it conveniently ignores why the
majority of consumers steal content on the Internet - the vast majority of thieves aren’t
Lessig’s heroic digital that wish to create innovative new art. Instead, they are downloading
the latest Harry Potter movie or hit song by Madonna so that they won’t have to pay for it at
the cinema or record store.
The other problem is that most of the pirate theorists have an idealistic vision that culture
should be free.
Solution: to punish the perpetrators of online theft, yet this is only one piece of the puzzle.
Solution: a radical rethinking of the nature of both content and audience in a more democratic
and interactive age – it requires the industry to do a more creative job explaining its own
economics to the public, so that it can counter the seductive distortion of pirate rebels
Chapter 10 (+ lecture slides)
Cyberia: suggests that the digital future is dystopian (play on the word Siberia – frozen
wastes of Russia) – Rushkoff
Digital mythology: the power of myth is that it contains elements of truth and seems to hold a
timeless manifestation of an eternal and powerful entity. It is based on the seemingly
unstoppable power of technology to do ‘good’.
‘Digital sublime’: the digital revolution generates and sustains ‘important myths about our
time’, which supports the nothing that we are experiencing an ‘epochal transformation’ that
overturns our common beliefs about time, space and power (Mosco).
The central purpose of mythologising: the elimination of ‘complexities and contradictions’
The myths of the Digital Age demonstrate these values by shielding the ideal of cyberspace
from ‘the messiness of down-to-earth politics’
This is done by a process of ‘inoculation’: the admission that there are some (relatively minor)
problems – in order to protect the myth from more substantial criticism.
o It is assisted by the complexity of digital knowledge environments where ‘linguistic
distortions’ ( a form of ideological meme generation) ‘obscure and euphemise’ the
very reality ‘to which they simultaneously refer’ (Hearn et al.)
o The process of inoculation is further developed through the selective reportage carried
in media vectors, also known as ‘instantaneous global dialogue’ (Wark) that denies
the existence of territorial location and in which events appear to be taking place ‘on
the surface of a strange new virtual geography’
o This is also known as telesthesia: the distanciation of the audience/receptor from real
o Things appear to happen in a never-ending ‘now’, rather than as part of an historically
date-stamped flow of events occurring at a particular time and space
Storage capacity (Giddens): the retention and control of information or knowledge that
brings with it control over ‘social power’: the ability of an ideology to spread via the mimetic
virus of cultural DNA
o One power of myths is that they can blur the boundaries between ‘before’, ‘now’ and
‘later’ – the ‘time-space edges’ are not clearly defined from one historical period to
Digerati: the main group of digital salesmen who endlessly promote the many benefits of the
Internet and convergent new media technologies (e.g. Al Gore, Bill Gates, Negroponte).
o Two sides of the debate:
- Pundits (Optimists): they try to convince us that there is a boundless utopia to be
reached via the information superhighway
- The Oracles of Doom (Pessimists): see nothing but evil of new media
o Considered the economic, emotional, psychological, political and cultural impacts of
the mobile phone, the Internet, and cyber-culture (new media)
o Stated that the future of the Web will be like television but with thousands of
channels, not just hundreds. The mouse will become just another remote control
o Applauded the virtues of email, as he believed it affords extraordinary mobility
without anyone having to know one’s whereabouts.
o The process of staying connected raises some interesting general questions about the
difference between bits and atoms in digital life.
o Was enthusiastic about the creative a new applications that would become available on
the ‘information superhighway’.
o Concluded that digital technology would be a ‘natural force’ that could draw people
into a sense of ‘greater world harmony’ as ‘each generation becomes more digital than
the preceding one’ – recurrent theme of the Golden Age.
o In this version of digital nirvana, ‘the transmission of place itself’ will become
possible (idea of digital optimism and technological determinism).
o A key vector for this shift has been the mass media – first the age of television and
broadcasting and now the ages of narrowcasting and the Internet (with the shift of the
importance of space and time being an important factor).
o “To reckon with this technological frontier of human consciousness means to re-
evaluate the very nature of information, creativity, property and human relations”
Two key features of postmodernism (Jameson):
o The transformation of reality into images
o The fragmentation of time into a series of perpetual presents
Effect: society has little by little lost its capacity to remember and has lost
its sense of history
o In the 1990s a significant number of computer companies ‘went public’ as they listed
on the stock exchange through IPO (Initial Public Offering)
o In doing so, they created fabulous paper profits for those who owned the shares prior
to the IPO – those who cashed in their shares made huge profits
o In the late 1999 and early 2000 however, these stocks lost their allure and the market
o Stated as a ‘bubble’ (1996-2000) – there was enough money present and to be made,
and new investors were rushing in to grab a share of the action – was bound to burst at
o Even though the crash dented the image of the ‘Golden Age’ myth, there is still an
enthusiastic market running.
Global Village (McLuhan): the social effect of convergent technologies – we all get to know
each other and interact in some utopian way, as was supposed to be the case in preindustrial
‘Golden Age’: the idea that in looking back, there was a halcyon period in history in which
everything was bright and beautiful – ‘computer golden age’ started in Silicon Valley in the
1970s, with the creation of the first ‘thinking machines’/PCs (3 groups: cyberians,
cybergypsies and the hackers)
o Cyberians: generated a new reality very different from the constraining real world
outside. – were opposed to the tough American drug laws and saw their efforts as a
way of developing a counter-offensive about good and bad drug laws
o Cybergypsies: were also utopian, free-thinking and disdainful of the
commercialisation of the WWW that was beginning to coalesce around them – were
pioneers of the online gaming world – didn’t consume drugs but felt connected with
19th century writers (Coleridge) who indulged in a heavy opium habit.
o Hackers: aimed to mess with the system and to undermine the emerging commercial
monopolies of the software and telecommunications cartel that were scrambling to
make cyberspace like an online shopping mall – the ‘demons’ in the myth of the
Golden Age (hacker: De Groot).
The concept of the ‘Golden Age’ is a fluid concept; it can be argued that it is either over, or
continuing, or just coming into being.
Phases of the Internet (Barr):
o Phase One: the development from the 1960s to the 1980s when most of the network
was closed and only available for military and research applications
o Phase Two: is marked by a cultural shift as the Internet becomes a more public space
and an alternative mode of expression in which new electronic communities emerge
that would never have been possible under old media rules
o Phase Three: a period of rapid growth in home connection to the WWW – began in
the late 1990s and was marked by a commercial turn that transformed the information
superhighway into a ‘superhypeway’.
o (Phase 2 and 3 represent the periodisation of the Internet’s Golden Age)
o Since the 2001 attacks (end of Golden Age), we are entering a new phase of
developed, one which is characterised by greater insecurity and greater surveillance
New Media: new digital media forms (Internet) which can be distinguished from old media
forms (newspaper, radio, TV)
Personal Computer (PC): also called mini-computer or desktop computer, to distinguish it
from mainframe computers and servers – came of ages in the 1980s, as a low-cost and
accessible means of processing information
o One-to-one (email, IM)
o One-to-many (websites, blogs)
o Many-to-many (discussion boards, blogs, social networking)
o Many-to-one (online polls, feedback forms)
Article: Conceptualising Online News Use – Ike Picone
Even though research has made clear that online news is used in a complementary way with
newspapers, not substituting them (Althaus & Tewksbury, 2000), the Internet is still seen as
one of the major reasons for the decrease in newspaper readers.
Multimedia and interactivity have also been pinpointed as the main features attracting people
to the online medium, whereas research on on-screen reading has proven it to be a strong
threshold for consuming information on the computer and hence online (Beyers, 2002).
This however is a rather technology-centred approach that does not take into account how
people react on these new possibilities. Why would anyone watch the news online when image
quality is still better on his or her television?
The reasons for turning to the Internet for news have to be found in a much wider framework
than just these technology-based aspects and the possibilities they offer.
The interaction between these possibilities and the way people use them is very complex.
The focus does not lie on the technology itself but on the way people are – or are not – using
this technology and how this affects this social structure.
The media-sector is being forced to view its relationship with the customer through a different
mindset in order to anticipate and understand these changes. When investigating this
relationship, researchers also need to take into account the factors that play a role in this new
Previous research shows that various evolutions in the media market have an impact on how
newspapers and their readers relate to each other.
Market-driven journalism, has been jeopardising the media’s role as an independent fourth
estate since the eighties
The rise of free newspapers in the late nineties alongside the boom of free online information
sources have weakened the position of newspapers forcing them to jump on the trend of more
compact news, infotainment and tabloidisation which erodes their role as watchdogs.
People’s ever more rushed lives and the growth of new and often complementary media (radio
and television, computer programs, Internet, games, DVD, mp3, etc.) have reduced the time
people are able to spend to newspapers and the attention they can pay to the articles.
The newspaper sector is being challenged by a series of new players. This was already the case
when radio and television appeared, but the introduction of the Internet takes this a step
further because of the digitalisation of content.
Role of newspapers:
o Newspapers as an agenda setter
o Newspapers as a watchdog
o Newspapers as information/news providers
Dimensions of participatory media:
Article: The Role of Social Networking Services in eParticipation – Saebo et al.
A serious problem in eParticipation projects is citizen engagement – citizens do not
necessarily become more willing to participate simply because net-services are provided for
Most forms of eParticipation in democratic contexts are, however, dependent on citizen
engagement, interaction and social networking because democratic systems favour the
interests of larger groups of citizens – the more voices behind a political proposition, the
greater its chances of success.
In this respect, social networking could contribute to solve some of the problems of engaging
their users that eParticipation services often struggle with
Discussion concerning how communication technology could/couldn’t be utilised is not new;
Dewey cautioned that communication technologies could by no means replace face-to-face
interaction for collective learning, education, problem solving and moral development (in
EParticipation aims to increase the availability to participate in order to promote fair and
efficient society and government support, by using the latest technology developments (e.g.
chat technologies, discussion forums, blogs, etc.)
Two forms of eParticipation: that driven primarily by governments and that driven primarily
Simmel and Durkheim have argued that by specialising and networking with others specialists
we can accomplish more than we can on our own, but to hold the network together trust and
honesty between the members of the network (or society) are crucial
o Ways for people to locate each other,
o To provide information about themselves,
o To interact in various ways for various purposes,
o To overcome networking barriers (geography, different time zones, language),
o To maintain contact over time
The rapid growth of SNS is driven by technical, social, economic and institutional forces
Driving forces behind SNS:
o Technological driver: the rapid uptake and availability of broadband technologies and
o Social driver: the changed media consumption habits of Internet users, especially
among young users
o Institutional drivers: new legal means to create and distribute content, and the rise of
copyright licensing agreements to support distribution of user generated contents.
Characteristics of SNS:
o Digital Persona/Virtual Identity: the development of an online
o Network Building: the software offers tools and opportunities for building the social
network(s) of the user.
o Network Maintenance: provides features for persistence.
o Network Interaction: provides ways for users to interact, through direct
communication, shared activities, etc.
o User Generation of Virtual Content: the opportunity to provide virtual content and
digital objects (texts, pictures, videos, etc.).
o Network Self-Governance: displays observable social norms, social conventions,
informal codes of behaviour and (sometimes) formal rules and regulations.
Features of citizen-driven social networking which are relevant to eParticipation:
o Social movements facilitated by networking software
o The hyper-complex network
o Community development
o Viral dissemination of ideas and issues
o Erosion of distinctions between real and virtual identity
o Participation in internal governance
o Extensions of commerce and government through social networking
One of the key advances people mention when they talk about the good things that the Internet
brings is that anyone can now be an author and publisher
The new media are changing the relationship between the producers and consumers of what is
broadly defined as ‘news’.
Throughout the 20th century the functions, character, and class position of journalists all over
the world have undergone almost continuous and extensive change.
There has always been an unsteady professional relationship between news gatherers and spin
doctors – is the relationship symbiotic (mutual benefits) or parasitic (one benefits at the
expense of the other): who is feeding whom?
Two dynamics in the recent blurring of boundaries between ‘professionals’ and those who
‘write’ about the news:
o The rise of the citizen journalist
o The changing face, work, and nature of traditional journalism as the old media silos of
print, radio, television and online break down even further.
New media technologies/converging technologies are slowly but surely breaking down this
distinction and blurring the boundaries of the community of reporters.
Changing media technologies and changing patterns of media control, production, and
consumption make a simple definition – such as a journalist is someone employed to report
and edit the news – is no longer as valid as it used to be.
The impacts of technologies and convergence on the practices of journalism have created
changes, not least to the form of journalism and by implication journalism education.
The Internet has radically changed the scope and practices of journalism because it accelerates
the circulation of ideas and because of new technologies like open-source software and easy-
to-use publishing tools for the web.
News is no longer constrained by the limits of analogue technology, but rather by the social
relations of news productions, including traditions and training, which may still be holding
back digital media.
Two important considerations:
o The Internet makes us all journalists – e.g. backpack journalists (Grossman)
o New media technologies have changed the profession and the practice of journalists
Reportorial Community: those who ‘report’ in a variety of media, old and new, using
traditional journalistic genres and forms:
o The news story (written inside o The television news report
and outside the inverted o The ‘live cross’
pyramid) o The documentary
o The feature story o The online news story
o The radio news report o Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
Citizen-Journalist: a person who is not attached to a media organisation, who witnesses an
event, and then provides an account of that event, normally using traditional and new
journalistic forms – distinguished from an eyewitness by the nature and form(s) of their
The view that journalism is a profession rather than a craft Is a fairly modern one that has been
conveniently moulded to fit changed economic and social circumstances – paradoxical
Conley: journalism is an informative function linked to a traditional watchdog role, serving the
public interest and providing some entertainment to audiences
There is however a contradiction present between the public interest and the
commercial interest of the media organisations, which can ultimately interfere
with the duties of journalism to inform and to educate.
o (Conley) The change in content and form has consequences for journalists too: new-
generation media means new-generation journalists – more pressure on experienced
journalists, as citizens no longer need journalists for information in the way they once did.
Backpack Journalism: the practice of a single journalist taking to the field equipped to report
in all media forms (radio, television, print, online)
o For: cheaper, cost-effective, practical, quick, creates ‘new storytelling
o Against: can’t be strategically managed, will lead to ‘mediocre journalism’, speed
before quality, journalists not well trained.
Blogging: enables the ability to filter and disseminate information to a widely dispersed
audience, and has a position outside the mainstream of mass media
Commercial Journalism vs. Blogging:
o Because of their commercial function, journalists need a rigorous code of ethnics
o Blogs are seen more as an expression of free press
o The hegemony as gatekeeper role of journalists is now threatened by new
technologies and by audiences who are getting together to set the news agenda.
o This ‘Internet-driven-de-professionalisation of news and information’ creates
serious questions to many who study the relationship between media and
democratic government (McKinnion)
Participatory Journalism: “any literate citizen in any corner of the globe who has a
computer or mobile computing device with an Internet connection can create his/her own
interactive news media (McKinnon)
Disadvantage: more false/inaccurate reports – breaking down the practice
journalism so that it is accessible to everyone, anywhere, anytime, risks collapsing
important theoretical and practical distinctions that still have a purpose
Four conditions for technology to drive the train for video news (Heaton):
o Video streaming technology combined with available bandwidth so that the
television and the computer can be run from the same source
o Video-on-demand replaces the broadcast schedule (narrowcast replaces broadcast)
as the way in which most people access television
o ‘Point-of-view’ journalism becomes an accepted form of information
o Internet video news portal sites replace the network structure of news
The last big hurdle then might appear to be the non-technological conditions outlined by
Heaton: our willingness to accept opinion-driven point-of-view journalism.
Politics and new media: theoretical perspectives
o Prospects for the future of technology and democracy
Politics and new media: practical perspectives
o Electoral campaigning
Activist media: media outlets with a declared politico-social agenda – as distinct from media
outlets owned by corporations whose principal function is to make money for shareholders.
Each have their own agenda setting
Mass Media and Political institutions struggle to get the audience’s attention
Both the mass media and political institutions have internal and external forces of instability:
o External forces of instability:
- Updated laws aimed at the media/political elites
- Rapid advances in information & communication technologies
o Internal forces of instability:
- Mutual adaptation b/w political elites and media
- Changing relationship b/w political elites/media and audiences
Democracy: rule by the people, as distinct from monarchy, plutocracy (rule by the rich),
oligarchy (rule by a few) and anarchy (absence of rulers)
Does the Internet promote democracy?
o Positive point: the internet has given people unrivaled opportunities to obtain
information and encounter a whole new range of views and interactions
o Negative point: there is every possibility that a move towards online voting and
polling will increase surveillance; might also lead to further audience fragmentation
and withdrawal from active citizenship
Strong democracy – three scenarios (Barber):
Indymedia: a global network of independent media sites with local chapters based in most
nations and large cities dedicated to the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of
Populism: a policy of doing what is seen to be popular at the lowest common denominator, as
distinct from what may best serve the public interest, but be unpopular
The democratising influence of the Internet is a powerful myth of the digital sublime
(according to Hirst and Harrison)
It is attractive, because it implies that the ‘fundamental insecurities’ deeply embedded in
traditional politics can be transcended, just as some believe that the Internet can obliterate the
inequities of time and space (Mosco)
The Internet according to Morris, author of book Vote.com:
o ‘Vote.com’: the vision of participatory democracy represented by US political
consultant Dick Morris, in which public policy is determined by an ongoing series of
o The Internet offers citizens the capacity to influence the democratic process in
previously unforeseen ways
o The Internet will become a revolutionary tool for citizens to control their own destiny
– it creates a higher purpose for the Internet as a medium, which has been dominated
by entertainment means
o However, while there is evidence that young people are turned off by mainstream
political events, there is not the same level of evidence to suggest that the concept of
e-democracy will attract them back.
o ‘Fourth Estate’: suggests that the media can play an unofficial watchdog role, in effect
acting as a series of checks and balances on those who exercise power – there is
however a fault line between the media’s public service role and the profit motive that
drives the commercial media. D
o ‘Fifth estate’ (Morris): the Internet, which will take over from the Fourth Estate,
which is the traditional media, as the major organ for moving and gauging public
opinion – will eventually bring a utopian model of direct Jeffersonian democracy and
move society from the model of representative democracy.
o The Internet can be used creatively to extend ‘active citizenship’ and public
commitment to the ‘liberal state’ (Kearns)
o Unlike television, which is dominated by three networks, Internet-based election
campaigns would be significantly cheaper because of the lack of a dominant player in
the medium, and therefore a lack of high advertising revenues – the Internet forces
advertisers to change their tune because Net surfers will only voluntarily view ads,
rather than being forced to view ads.
o However, commercial convergence means that advertising and selling are now
unremarkable features in any online experience
Counter-arguments against Morris:
o Vote.com fails to account for the stranglehold that corporate interests have over the
o Morris is flawed in his belief that citizen-initiated government through instant and
constant polling on complex political issues can, and in fact will, replace the existing
o It also ignores historical political realities, such as the following:
- The Internet is no less susceptible to being manipulated by political parties
and sectional interest groups than the current system
- Internet polling, referendums, or elections will be led by those who feel
most passionately about a given subject, and will be largely ignored by
the general public
- Results will depend on the phraseology of the question, and the associated
‘commentary’, and may therefore be unrepresentative of overall public
- Advertising costs could actually increase for political candidates, who will
maintain current advertising hits on free-to-air television while expanding
their advertising on the Internet
- The control of sites by sectional interests will greatly diminish the
credibility of the polling results within political circles, defeating the
purpose of sites like Vote.com in the process.
o Two main flaws:
- The idea that polling through websites like Vote.com can play an
increasingly important role in political campaigning and future campaign
directions, let alone replace them
- The idea that political campaigns will become cheaper, because candidates
will ignore television to focus on the less expensive medium of the
Agenda-setting online: the Internet as an election campaign tool:
o Agenda-setting: the transferring of selected or salient issues from and by the media to
the public or audiences – the news media’s ability to shape what and how we think
about the political issues of the day
o Agenda-setting is also closely linked to the ‘gate-keeper’ model of the news media:
the exercise of selective control over the types of items that make it onto the news
o The electronic medium has adopted both agenda-setting and gate-keeping and refined
the process – political reporting in most presidential and parliamentary democracies
has been reduced to the ‘sound bite’ and relies heavily on media management
o The Internet’s cost-efficiency, lack of regulation control, production simplicity, and
swift and active interaction with the individual makes it arguably and potentially the
most innovative and powerful medium yet for politicians to communicate directly
with their constituents.
o Cyber-democracy movements believe that new media vectors offer new possibilities
of civic engagement, making it easier for citizens to respond, thereby resolving the
crisis of participation.
o The Internet’s ability to get in touch with the critical audiences is fast emerging as an
important driver of change
The printing press is a form of ‘hot’ media – it does not allow direct interaction or
interpretation on the part of the reader (Internet: ‘cool’ medium)
o Narrowcasting further fragments the audience for commercial purposes – the shift of
politics online may further fragment the audience of citizens
Progress and Freedom Foundation: American think-tank whose mission is to reconceptualise
politics to regain a lost sense of community and public life – is in favour of radically
downsizing government and privatizing most public services and replacing them with a new
version of individualism which replaces the class struggle of contemporary capitalism with the
webs of communication.
E-Democracy: the use of digital technologies to enhance the participation of citizens in the
democratic process – the use of web technologies to engage citizens in debate, discussion,
consultation and online voting
E-democracy has the negative characteristic that it also gives politicians an unprecedented
level of control over their messages and ‘spin’.
Most enduring myth of the Internet: the idea that distance, space, and time are losing their
Interactivity or fragmentation?: is the Internet, rather than actually promoting individualism,
acting to disaggregate the community (e.g. during elections)?
Negroponte: local can also mean the coexistence of individualism and harmony –
neighbourhoods will become groups that stem from common interests
Criticisms of going local:
o Whether or not visions of localism are viable, it can only be truly possible if every one
of us, governments included, wants to a part of ‘being local’ – otherwise, we are
merely making an assumption that everyone is happy to jump onto the same
bandwagon when not all of us may want to share even if it makes sense to do so
o Suburbia is precisely the place where the fragmentation of the citizen-consumer is
o We cannot assume that all sections of society have the means, knowledge, freedom, or
even the desire to participate in the construction of this envisage global village.
Beyond providing us with information, news, and entertainment as print and broadcast media
do, and for a fraction of the cost by comparison, the Internet has also opened up a whole new
dimension in the way we communicate with politicians.
Despite the claim that election campaigns provide people with the opportunity to give
feedback to their political leaders, it is feedback only within a limited set of choices – they are
reinforced and largely guided by the media’s limited and limiting coverage during election
campaign in their process of shaping the public agenda.
Fallacy of the digital mythology: access to the necessary infrastructure is not available to
some social groups – inequality of access/digital divide
This is also a problem in politics – if political parties are to wage effective election campaigns
online, they cannot afford to–nor would they want to–exclude any of the social sectors (e.g.
Another problem online politics – language divide
If you hate politics on television, why would you bother looking for it on the Internet
(Schwartz) – the Internet can be seen as merely an extension of political broadcasting
One of the most significant consequences of online political campaigning is that it has the
potential to support a new kind of journalism – media specialists now need a multimedia
outlook: the ability to integrate text, images, sounds, and video into understandable package
The potential of blogging to undermine the dominant (hegemonic) power structures is a
powerful myth, but is it going to create a social revolution? Probably not.
‘Hall of mirrors’: the media which we access reinforce our beliefs or prejudices and we are
never surprised, or shocked out of complacency (McDonald)
Jay Rosen: blogging is another experiment in the ongoing democratisation of the media and
the free press – blogging makes the reader the editor and reverses the information flow (media
to public) into a public to media model.
Blogging creates a ‘two-way’ medium and are at the centre of media democratisation that
makes all of us media creators (Knobel)
Fitzgibbon: the new medium is not replacing traditional methods of grassroots and activist
political organisation, but that it can supplement it.
Article: The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete
– Chris Anderson
“All models are wrong, but some are useful”- George Box
Digital computers made information readable, the Internet made it reachable, the first search
engine crawlers made it a single database.
Petabyte Age: information is not a matter of simple three- and four-dimensional taxonomy
and order, but of dimensionally agnostic statistics. It requires us to lose the tether of data as
something that can be visualised in its totality, forcing us to view data mathematically first and
establishing a context for it later.
Google's founding philosophy is that we don't know why this page is better than that one: If
the statistics of incoming links say it is, that's good enough. No semantic or causal analysis is
required (e.g. in translation of webpages or matching advertising to content).
“All models are wrong, and increasingly you can succeed without them” – Peter Norvig
(Google’s research director)
You must understand the underlying mechanisms that connect the two. Once you have a
model, you can connect the data sets with confidence. Data without a model is just noise.
The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these
numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world.
Correlation supersedes causation, and science can advance even without coherent models,
unified theories, or really any mechanistic explanation at all.
Article: Studying the Internet through the Ages – Barry Wellman
Economic forces were already fueling the turn away from stand-alone groupware towards
applications that supported social networks.
Unlike groupware, the Internet was open-ended, far-flung, and seemingly infinite in scope.
The Internet became dot.com’ed, and the boom was on by the mid-1990s.
First Age of Internet Studies:
In their euphoria, many analysts lost their perspective and succumbed to presentism and
o Presentism: people who thought that the world had started anew with the Internet
o Parochialism: people who looked at the online phenomena in isolation – they
assumed that only things that happened on the Internet were relevant to
understanding the Internet.
Wellman’s articles: argues that the Internet was not the coming of the new millennium, despite
the gospel of Wired magazine, but was a new technology following the path of other
promoters of transportation and communication connectivity, such as the telegraph, railroad,
telephone, automobile, and airplane.
It also showed how community dynamics continued to operate on the Internet – this was not a
totally new world – and how intertwined offline relationships were with online relationships.
Second Age of Internet Studies:
Began around 1998 when government policy makers, commercial interests, and academics
started to want systematic accounts of the Internet
They realised that if the Internet boom were to continue, it would be good to describe it rather
than jus to praise and coast on it.
The uses of the Internet kept expanding and democratising – the initial killer applications of
communication (email and instant messaging) were joined by information via the World Wide
The second age of Internet Studies was devoted to documenting the proliferations of Internet
users and uses – based on large-scale surveys, originally done by marketing-oriented firms,
but later on increasingly done by governments, academics and long-term enterprises.
Third Age of Internet Studies:
The movement from a world of Internet ‘wizards’ to a world of ordinary people routinely
using the Internet, as it has become embedded in everyday life.
Two trends in the third age:
o The development of ‘Internet studies’ as a field in its own right, bringing together
scholars from the social sciences, humanities, and computer sciences.
o The incorporation of Internet research into the mainstream conferences and journals of
their disciplines, with projects driven by ongoing issues (e.g. ‘digital divide’)
Article: Sloppy data floods or precise social science methodologies? – Dilemmas in the
transition to data-intensive research in sociology and economics – Levaillois et al.
This increase in amount of data is, according to the authors, a serious challenge to the
scientific communities in a variety of disciplines. It is not a simple incremental change, but
represents a new research paradigm – the “fourth paradigm” – exceeds the three older
paradigms (experimental, theoretical and simulation paradigms).
In terms of computer science it means that the term e-science is not in the first place about
faster computation, but about more advanced database technologies.
Fourth paradigm (Gray: visionary computer scientist): The techniques and technologies for
such data-intensive science are so different that it is worth distinguishing data-intensive
science from computational science as a new, fourth paradigm for scientific exploration
People arguing for change since mass data technologies: Anderson and Savage & Burrows
Two social science disciplines in which empirical research is seen as highly relevant to
theoretical innovation: sociology and economics.
According to Gray, we are seeing the evolution of two branches of every discipline: a
computational branch and a data-processing branch.
The development of empirical social research was mostly independent of the growth of
Three aspects played an important role:
o the foundation of several institutes for empirical social research
o the foundation of market- and opinion research institutes
o the foundation of research institutions related to evaluation and policy research.
Savage and Burrows (2007): stated that there is a “coming crisis of empirical sociology” and a
radical change in the significance of empirical research.
The authors underline that in the 21st century empirical sociologists, instead of keeping pace
with the latest developments in the online environment, are beginning to lose their
“innovative” role in collecting and analysing social data.
The crisis affects three dimensions of academic sociology:
o who counts as legitimate knowledge producer
o which methods are validated as scientific
o what counts as proper data.
The commercialisation of empirical sociology via the Internet enables new and powerful
social agents such as private firms and institutions to collect massive amounts of data on
complete (sub)-populations as a by-product of their daily transactions.
Savage and Burrows claim that the preferred tools in empirical sociology - the in-depth
interview and the sample survey - will therefore become less relevant.
Savage and Burrows conclude that empirical sociologists need to rethink their methodological
practices in a radically innovative way.
Instead of getting caught up in internal disputes, sociologists will have to become more
attentive to the deployment of new methods seeking to describe different forms of the
In this line of reasoning, empirical sociologists have two options to face the crisis:
o they can ignore new forms of social data by invoking their academic superiority and
sophistication in social theory
o Or they can critically engage with transactional research on its own terms, e.g. by
questioning its classifications, assumptions, procedures, etc.
Many arguments from various researchers demonstrate that newly emerging data floods are
not necessarily seen as the end of science.
On the contrary, it seems that the authors perceive the current developments in data-driven
research as a kind of “natural cycle” in the scientific world, leading to methodological
innovations and new theorizing without banishing the traditional approaches.
New technologies are also creating opportunities for new substantive theory, and new
impulses may also arise from the new mass of data (e.g. ‘social network theory’).
In the case of sociology, there are two different forms of resistance: denying authority and
The analysis shows that traditional theories in social science are not doomed by any
technological fatalism – Both sciences (economics and sociology) actually have extensive
expertise of dealing with extensive quantitative and qualitative data, as studies based on
census data or the field of econometrics easily testify.’
Article: Maximising opportunities and minimising risks for children online – Jos de Haan
(+ guest lecture slides)
4 Focus areas SGP (Institute for Social Science Research – de Haan)
Also involved in:
o Political debate
o Public debate
o Scientific debate
New and increasingly interactive technologies provide opportunities for children and young
people to communicate personal textual and visual information in publicly accessible and
searchable online spaces.
These new uses not only potentially promote sociability, self confidence and identity
formation; they may also expose children and young people to a variety of risks to their
physical and psychological well-being.
Various EU action plans have been deployed to promote safer use for the internet by children
and young people (Safer Internet Action Plan, Plus Programme, etc.)
Usually, in countries with a higher internet penetration rate, more research is performed on the
risk/opportunities of the Internet (more risk/opportunities is present)
o How positive uses of new technologies can be stimulated
o What we can learn from existing research on how to prevent children from harm in
o How children can learn to cope with negative experiences
Aims EU Kids Online:
o To evaluate present data
o To note the gaps in the evidence base
o To handle methodological issues and challenges
o To develop policy recommendations
Realising that providing opportunities is one possible way to reduce risks the classification of
opportunities and risks builds on a three C’s approach: content, contact and conduct.
This classification derives from the three modes of communication afforded by the
o Content: one-to-many (child as recipient of mass distributed content);
o Contact: adult/child-to child (child as participant in an interactive situation);
o Conduct: peer-to-peer (child as actor in an interaction in which s/he may be initiator or
How to stimulate children’s positive use of the Internet while reducing their exposure to
o Legislation and children’s digital rights: we need a digital rights charter for children
based on the UN convention that encourages creativity and sociability in particular
need to be supported, and assures privacy.
o Content provision: providing content that stimulates the intellectual and artistic
development of children and by promoting civic information and learning
opportunities (digitalisation efforts).
o Safety by design: Internet Service Providers (ISPs) need to play an active role in
safeguarding safety online for children by offering the typical ‘safety packages’
(firewalls, etc.), participating in local projects to raise public awareness, collaborating
with Insafe’s safety nodes, and producing and distributing online safety awareness-
raising material for schools (now also including social networking sites).
o Awareness-raising: maximising the awareness of online risk among parents, teachers
and other stakeholders, including children. These risks include personal information
risks and cyber-bullying.
o Parental mediation: research has shown that parents practise a range of strategies for
mediating their children’s online activities, including three types of management
(although not always effective):
- imposing rules and restrictions (e.g. time restrictions)
- using technical tools (such as filtering, monitoring)
- using social approaches (watching, sharing, talking about the internet)
(Parents seem to prefer social approaches, which means that dialogue
about content and risks areas should be encouraged)
o Media literacy: evidence shows that among young people internet-related skills
increase with age, including their abilities to protect themselves from online risks.
Thus, making children more Internet ‘literate’ can reduce Internet risks.
o Education: Teachers are key players in supporting positive online experiences of
children by providing access to high quality content, safeguarding children and young
people from negative experiences, and in communicating effective strategies to reduce
risks, not only to children, but also to parents. (e.g. cyber-bullying)
o Coping: children’s ability to cope with online risk varies across types of risks,
cultures, genders and ages - Awareness-raising campaigns should be continued for all
types of risk encountered by children online, but more attention should be given to
how children do and should cope when they encounter such risks (new guidelines for
coping strategies should be created – “tell a teacher or parent” is ineffective).
o Self-regulatory codes and practices: efforts to ensure that risk and safety
considerations are the focus of self-regulatory actions by the industry.
More use, more skills and more parental supervision
ICT Skills which need to be improved
o Instrumental Skills o Social Skills (e.g. ‘netiquette’)
o Information Skills o Strategic Skills
Digital divide exists within and between countries (Norris):
o Economic development (BNP per head, expenditures)
o Social development (literacy rate, secondary education)
o Political development
Article: Exploring user-producer interaction in an online community: the case of Habbo
Hotel – Mijke Slot
o Different levels of user-generated content (in Habbo Hotel)
o The analysis of communication between the users and producers
o The matter of online safety
In the past 25 years, users are increasingly assigned more active roles by many scholars from
different theoretical fields (no longer passive role)
For example, they place the users of technological artefacts in the centre of their analysis,
counterbalancing technological determinism by emphasising that technology is socially
The idea of domestication (or the active user) can be extended to the online domain. Many
users have integrated the internet into their daily lives. Not only are they actively consuming
content online, they have also taken on more active roles in many parts of the value creation
Not everybody has a positive attitude about the changing user roles in online communities
(lead users, pro-ams, prosumers). Some critics have serious doubts about the freedom and
agency of users on the internet. They believe that user roles are limited, especially in
It can be argued that users have taken the lead in online developments and producers (firms)
are following, hoping that they can capitalise on user behaviour.
The internet’s characteristics, combined with multiple forms of user activities, enable (or
force) firms to reorganise their business. The internet, for example, enables firms to reduce
their transaction costs, develop new products and services and try out new pricing and revenue
The interaction between the users and producers in the online domain is supported and
accelerated by technology.
The internet makes two-way communication much more direct and faster than other media
were able to. It changes, for example, the scope, speed and impact of the interactions within
communities, between various user groups and between users and firms (however, in online
media and entertainment services, users, producers and technology cannot be analysed
Safety is a very important issue which should be addressed by ISPs, especially in online
environments which are accessible by children (e.g. Habbo Hotel)
Article: Kids Online: Opportunities and risks for children – Sonia Livingstone & Leslie
Although many adults are also online, and although parents make considerable efforts to keep
up with their children, it may seem that, one decade after gaining access en masse to online
technologies, children and young people are living in a different world from that familiar to
the adults who are bringing them up, teaching them what they need to know, and designing
policies to ensure their well being.
Since all human life is now online, this includes many risks – bullies, racists, cheats and, the
greatest fear of all, sexual predators.
Although long encountered by children in one form or another, today these risks too are more
available and more accessible, readily crossing national borders to reach children anywhere,
anytime, too easily escaping local and national systems of child welfare and law enforcement.
o If young people’s online activities really are beneficial
o If the benefits are fairly distributed
o If children need educational or other forms of support
o Whether the various forms of potentially harmful content, contact and conduct
children encounter online are really worrying or not
o If they are, how such risks can be managed and minimised
o How to encourage children and young people to gain access and make the most of the
opportunities afforded by the internet (e.g. learning, communication, entertainment,
creativity, self-expression and civic participation)
o Whether, in encouraging children to go online, society inadvertently increases the
risks children encounter in their daily lives (e.g. violent or hate content, bullying,
abuse of personal information).
o Whether efforts to reduce online risks inadvertently constrain children in their
exploration of the benefits afforded by the internet.
‘The risk society’ (Beck): argues that modern life contains both ‘the threat and the promise of
emancipation from the threat that it creates itself’.
Processes of social and historical change are always contingent, unfolding with different
inflections at different times in different parts of the world children’s encounters with the
internet differ in important ways (comparative approach required).
‘Self-actualisation’ (Giddens): the balance between opportunity and risk.
To understand the relation between opportunities and risks, research must consider both
children’s agency – their motivations, interests and knowledge – and also the structures,
offline and online, which enable certain actions and inhibit others (Giddens).
The chapter explores the relation between agency and structure by taking a child-centred
o First identifying children’s experiences, voices and actions
o Then contextualising them within the concentric circles of structuring social
influences – family, community and culture.
This enables us to recognise ways in which children determine what happens in their lives, but
on the other hand, it permits us to recognise the power of institutional actors - those multiple
stakeholders who, in policy terms, may or may not benefit children’s internet use.
o The idea of the technological determinism commonplace in public and policy
discourses should be rejected:
- society shapes the process of technological innovation and its diffusion,
adoption and implementation in specific historical and cultural contexts.
- We must ask careful questions about the dynamic and contingent relations
between users and technologies
- We should also ask careful questions about the relationship between
practices of the social shaping and social consequences of new
o There is little evidence that the internet is revolutionising society, transforming
childhood or radically changing the family or education:
- the internet is implicated in complex processes of social change,
facilitating some possibilities and impeding others.
o There are substantial continuities between the online or ‘virtual’ world and the offline
or ‘real’ world:
- the more familiar we have become with the internet, the more it is
recognised that while the internet extends and reconfigures information
and communication, it does not constitute a virtual world wholly
disconnected from the offline
- Offline practices – whether of social networking, social hierarchies or
social hostilities – are typically reproduced and reinforced online.
- Similarly, legal frameworks increasingly insist that what is illegal or
regulated offline is illegal and should be regulated online.
- activities and structures in on and offline spheres are mutually influential,
not least because the actors are the same in both.
In developing policies, two points of consensus have emerged:
o Policy should be generated through multistakeholder dialogue and, moreover, be
implemented by multiple stakeholders rather than just by governments;
o Policy should be evidence-based, firmly grounded in and tested against the
experiences of children and families across diverse everyday settings.
A number of facets as being central to shaping the conditions of children’s engagement
with the internet:
o the issue of children’s rights (e.g. e-inclusion and equality considerations, positive
content provision and promoting creative, civic and learning opportunities)
o Awareness-raising is also important, taking into account parental mediation, as well as
education and the role of the internet in schools.
o Effective industry self-regulation, involving the development of an array of codes of
conduct and efforts towards child welfare and protection, including the operation of
law enforcement agencies.
o Programmes to promote media and digital literacy and the regulation of privacy,
including the protection of data and treatment of personal information.