2 Aug 2006

The Real Source of PAP's Fear

New Media Power:
The Internet and Global Activism [pdf]

W. Lance Bennett
(Chapter in CONTESTING MEDIA POWER, Edited by Nick Couldry and James Curran, Rowman and Littlefield, 2003)

When networks are not decisively controlled by particular organizational centers, they embody the Internet’s potential as a relatively open public sphere in which the ideas and plans of protest can be exchanged with relative ease, speed, and global scope –all without having to depend on mass media channels for information or (at least, to some extent) for recognition. Moreover, the coordination of activities over networks with many nodes and numerous connecting points, or hubs, enables network organization to be maintained even if particular nodes and hubs die, change their mission, or move out of the network. Indeed, the potential of networked communication to facilitate leaderless and virtually anonymous social communication makes it challenging to censor or subvert broadly distributed communication even if it is closely monitored. These points are elaborated by Redden:

The fact that it is a decentralised, distributed network currently makes it hard for any elite to control online activities. It allows fast one-to-one, one-to-many and even many-to-many communication in web and conferencing forums. Together, the technological and economic aspects of the Net allow for cheap self-publication without mediation by corporate publishing....Of course, cheap is a relative term. The Net is cheap, not in absolute terms, but relative to the efficiency of message distribution. It is clearly not a panacea that guarantees freedom of speech for all. But while it is not accessible to everyone who has something to say, it does dramatically increase the numbers of people who can afford the time and money to distribute information translocally to large numbers of other people. In short, it allows individuals and community groups to reduce the influence gap between themselves and wealthier organizations (Redden, 2001, n.p).

The capacity to transform time, space, costs, and the very roles of information producers and consumers also enables the rapid adaptation and transformation of political organizations, and the creation of new sorts of power relationships (Bennett, forthcoming). W. Lance Bennett

Debates on whether those in power should try to control this new media tend to centre around issues of 'objectivity' and anonymity. They allude to the issue that the new media is having a decentralising effect on information dissemination. The new power relationship is that the PAP are having to 'deal', 'manage' and possibly attempt to 'control' this new media that is open to all in Singapore who have crossed the digital divide.

The 'fear' issue that for so long resulted in those who contributed to this online open society 'self-censoring' has infected those institutions that have for so long had unfettered access to information dissemination.

Is all this talk of 'chaotic chatter' and attempts to undermine the work of bloggers, podcasters, etc mere verbal manifestation of their fear for the future of their hegemonic domination of Singaporean discourse?


Matilah_Singapura said...

Well folks, thats how the free-market works and that's why it's so great at creating individual wealth and freedom.

Decentralisation: No one individual or group has all the power

Distributed networks: It's anyone's guess how resources are allocated — it all depends on how the consumers choose, and what the producers do about it. The verbs are italicised becasue they represent Human Action

The chaotic nature of these freemarkets have been described by people like Adam Smith as the invisible hand, and by Friedrich Hayek as the sponatneous order.

They work because all actors act in their own self-interest, independent from one another. collectivists, statists and governments dislike this kind of phenomena because they "can't plan anything".

That's great. That means greater freedom for me and my fellow anarchist-types to do as we please :-)

Anonymous said...

does freedom really lead to anarchist?or is it a scare tactic to contain subversion against the powerful rich? i dont see how the planners are any better than adam as long as ms penny takes centerstage.

soci said...

I have disabled the anonymous comment facility not because of censorship or someone flaming etc but simply because I am sick and tired of receiving upwards of 20 or more spam comments daily. They waste my time and money. Even with anonymous comments disabled I still receive a few daily. It is almost enough to make me quit blogger altogether.

So if you want to comment on this site you will have to register with blogger or go to the wordpress site and comment anonymously there.

Matilah_Singapura said...

To anon 12:10 — it's all up to you. Any "-ism" when taken to extremes becomes a prison. I've met lots of people (mostly libertarians, anarchists, atheists and other "freedom" loving individuals) imprisoned by their (fixed) ideas on freedom.

It's a good idea to go out and do something completely mindless everyday, like being silly, dancing silly, screaming out silly incomprhensible words, and listening to pumping, grooving silly music. Usually you can save time by combining the above activities into one glorious session of no objective! (the use of mind-altering substances is optional. Check you local laws) ;-)

soci: I understand how you must feel. Its a case of "lots of freedom, too little responsibility". Such a shame though. Some of the anon comments were good!

soci said...

I agree that the majority of anonymous commentators were contributing to the debates here. The problem is that studies have shown that once you disable or moderate comments the number decreases rapidly.

If I simply label one anonymous comment as spam in my gmail account they all go automatically to the spam box. If I could someone how get all anon commentators to use a different name it wouldn't be a problem but this would mean that all new commentators would have to know about the requirement. Too much to expect I fear.

as for your comment to above anon I agree. There is no such thing as an absolute or rather everything in moderation is usually the best policy, including moderation of course.