Sunday, November 2, 2008

CCK08 - week 8 – Power, Control, Validity and Authority in Distributed Environments


The Fifth Estate — Through the Network (of Networks) .pdf

Network Logic: Who governs in an interconnected world? (.pdf) (this is a long paper/book. Skim sections that you find to be of interest) – edited by McCarthy H, Miller P & Skidmore P

Notes from readings:

The Fifth Estate — Through the Network (of Networks) .pdf – William H Dutton, University of Oxford

Fourth Estate – advent of the printing press, radio, television and other mass media created an independent institution in many nations – became known as the Fourth Estate = central to pluralist democratic processes.

Fifth Estate – new form of social accountability – enabled by growing use of Internet & ICTs

‘communicative power’ of ‘networked individuals’ is key

the Internet and related ICTs can play in ‘reconfiguring access’

The Internet and Web may be packed with material that is free, but they also contain much that is owned – trademarked, copyrighted, proprietary, licensed and more.

By enabling a huge range of people across the globe to reconfigure their access to information, people, services and technologies, the Internet and related ICTs have the potential to reshape the communicative power of individuals and groups in numerous ways. Of course, powerful actors and institutions – not only groups – can enhance their communicative power by strategically using the Internet. This is shown by the increasing influence of companies anchored in cyberspace, such as Google, and the growing online presence of traditional Fourth Estate media giants like News International or the BBC.

the access divide, the economic ‘haves’ get more access to the Internet than the have-nots. This underpins concerns that the Internet reinforces socio-economic inequalities in society.

‘digital choices’ about whether or not to use the Internet also comes into play - many people choose not to use it - individuals who do not find the motivation to go online when they could.

Internet has already achieved a critical mass, enabling networked individuals to become a significant force even though there are continuing digital divides. 

beyond its mere diffusion the Internet is becoming a critical infrastructure of everyday life.

educated individuals are relatively more sceptical, but the most distrustful are those individuals who have never used the Internet. This leads us to call the Internet an ‘experience’ technology.41 As experience online continues to build, more users are therefore likely to develop such a learned trust in the Internet.

I will argue, the Internet is crucially enabling individuals to network in new ways that reconfigure and enhance their communicative power – as a type of Fifth Estate.

users of the Internet and Web will choose to access only a narrow spectrum related to what most interests them. In the words of Cass Sunstein44, users are ‘cocooning’ themselves, creating ‘echo chambers’ in which their own personal prejudices will be reinforced rather than challenged.

As discussed, it can flourish despite a digital divide in access. And it can be a significant force even though only a minority of users are actively producing material for the Internet, as opposed to simply using it. For example, only about 28 percent of current users even post pictures on the Internet. Less than one in five use a distribution list for e-mail (19%), post messages on discussion boards (16%), try to set up a Web site (16%) or maintain a personal Website (15%)

The gates the Internet opens to allow in those aspects of the outside world of benefit to the user also bring in those causing harm by intent or accident, including spammers, fraudsters, pornographers, bullies, terrorists, and more. -  the Internet can empower the malicious in addition to the well intentioned. This has led increasingly for calls from citizens, governments, business and others to introduce online gatekeepers and other controls to govern what was originally conceived by the Internet’s designers as an open, end-to-end network with minimal central control, particularly in allowing a free flow of content65.

The vitality of Internet-enabled Fifth Estate networks rests less on new policy initiatives since its emergence than on preventing over-regulation or inappropriate regulation of the Internet.

peer production of Internet governance’ – ie Wikipedia & ebay

the Internet can be used to increase the accountability … or … as an alternative source of authority and as a check

Network Logic: Who governs in an interconnected world? (.pdf) (this is a long paper/book – edited by McCarthy H, Miller P & Skidmore P

we have taken advantage of the new connections: to earn, learn, trade and travel. But collectively we don’t understand their logic - a governance gap that needs to be bridged.

We are paying so much attention to networks now because of computerisation; it is electronic connections that have made the network such a ubiquitous and public organising principle.

our conception of accountability seems likely to evolve away from simple lines of answerability towards something more complex and messy, with lines of accountability that are:

multiple, so that any one actor was accountable to a number of other actors in a number of different ways

overlapping, so that at different times in different circumstances one source of accountability might take priority, but at no point could there be no accountability at all

based on deliberative as well as procedural processes – generating opportunities for genuine discussion and learning, rather than fostering defensive mindsets or going through the motions.

we can only connect the pursuit of freedom to systems of organisation that will not be undone by its exercise, a networked world can become a more sustainable and a more enriching place. Making it so requires us to change not just our tools of intervention, but also our ways of seeing the world.

No comments: