Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Media and Beyond

by Emily Kearns

For a complete summary of New Media such as social networking sites click here. The following readings address how technology and globalization are transforming existing media and means of power.

Papathanassopoulos, Conclusion
In this chapter of European Television in the Digital Age, Papathanassopoulos looks into the relationship between television and the Internet. As the Internet grows and converges with television, the boundaries between traditional and new media are blurring. The author notes that although Internet usage is rapidly growing, it will take a while for computers to have the same penetration rates as television, because television is “virtually in all households” (244). However, in Europe sales of computers are currently higher than sales of televisions.

He then begins to discuss the challenges that the Internet has created for TV broadcasters and how broadcasters are using the Internet. He argues that Internet usage for TV broadcasters has come in two waves. The first was creating web sites for television shows that were used as promotional tools. In the second generation of websites, “content would appear to be key” (245). Websites are not only used for promotion, but are also destinations with unique content.

Next, the author questions whether the Internet will ever replace TV. There are five ways in which the Web is similar to television viewing: entertainment, pastime, relaxation, social information, and information. Despite this, the author believes that “in the near future viewers will be more attracted by the interactivity of digital television, rather than the new media world offered by the Internet” (247). The future of television is allowing viewers more flexibility in TV viewing and letting them watch what they want, when they want.

He then argues that we have entered the ‘pay-society’ era of TV. Viewers are now paying for on demand programming and digital platforms are giving customers “a diet of all types of programme genres” (248). Additionally, new thematic channels add to the fees that European television subscribers pay to watch what they want to watch. In the future, the author argues, European viewers will no longer be able to watch television without paying for content.

Minority Report, Light screens of the future?

Next, the author discusses how the television revolutions has led to a decrease in the power of political parties and an increase in the power of media companies. He concludes by noting that the position of the average television viewer has changed since television was first introduced. In the beginning of the television era, “the European viewer [was] a silent citizen in the state monopoly.” Now, viewers are “valuable consumer[s] in the digital era” (251).

Alec Charles “New Media, New Europe: Estonia’s E-Mediated State”
Alec Charles is the principal lecturer in Media at the University of Bedfordshire. He worked as a writer, journalist and producer for BBC Radio and has organized international conferences on ‘Transatlantic Cooperation’ and ‘EU Enlargement’ in Estonia. “New Media, New Europe: Estonia’s E-Mediated State” was published in 2009.

In this portion of Media in the Enlarged Europe, he looks into the ways governments are using new media. In particular, he uses the country of Estonia as a case study. He introduces the chapter by discussing the problems of “e-democracy,” most significant among them the fact that electronic gaps in countries are reflective of socio-economic divides. Citizens who are less wealthy and lower class are less likely to have access to computers and the Internet. This gap could possibly lead to problems with Internet voting and is the main reason why many countries have yet to introduce e-voting. However, this is not the case in Estonia.

Relatively recently, Estonia has become incredibly technologically advanced. Since the late 1990s, the country has attempted to position itself at the forefront of the digital revolution. In 1997, it launched the “Tiger Leap Initiative,” a program whose purpose was to establish Estonia as a modern ‘e-state.’ In a short amount of time, many advances have been made in the country. It is a leader in online banking, with more than half of the Estonia’s citizens banking online, software programs such as Skype and Kazaa were developed by Estonian companies, and the government has made increasing wifi availability a priority. Charles claims that the most important contribution to Estonia’s technological development was the Look@World project, which trained more than one hundred thousand Estonians in basic IT skills between 2002 and 2004.

The Estonian government has played a major role in the ‘e-development’ of the country. The government has moved much of its work onto the Internet and has significantly reduced its paper use. In 2001, a program was established called TOM which allowed citizens to present ideas for legislation on a website. However, the program has enacted little change and is seen as somewhat of a failure.

In 2005, the Estonian parliament passed legislation that started online voting in elections. In order to vote via the Internet, voters would need a specific electronic ID card. Two years later, e-voting was extended to national elections “in what was hailed as the world’s first full-scale internet election” (214). However, the entire population of Estonia does not have access to computers and this was reflected in the election. The party that middle class voters tend to vote for got more votes, as middle class people had access to computers. Although sixty percent of Estonians use the Internet, the majority of eligible voters did not have the necessary electronic ID card. Charles says that, “Estonia initiated an online voting system at a time when nobody new how many people has access to the technology that would allow them to vote from home” (217). In summary, although the idea of e-voting was revolutionary, in Estonia it did not have the impact that the government had hoped. Charles concludes by noting that this Estonian case study shows that “technological developments do not necessarily result in greater levels of participatory citizenship, democratic accountability, or social justice” (217).

Alain Badiou, “ The Meaning of Sarkozy”

Alain Badiou is a French philosopher who was formerly chair of philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure. He is a Marxist and has published many philosophical books and essays. His bookThe Meaning of Sarkozy was published in 2008.

In Chapter 4 of The Meaning of Sarkozy called “One World”, Badiou questions the idea of a single world that all people live in. Many people think that there is one world. However, as a result of capitalism, there are in fact two worlds- one of the rich and powerful and one of the excluded. We live in a world of the global market, as Marx predicted. This has led to a world where many human subjects do not exist freely because they do not have access to money. Therefore, they are “locked out” of a certain part of the world. Furthermore, Badiou posits that walls are put up that assure that these people remain this way.

Most of the excluded are immigrants and foreigners. Badiou defines excluded as “the name for all those who are not in the real world but outside it” (56). According to the author, these people are proof that the idea of a single world is false, as foreigners and immigrants live separately from the rest of the world and are forced to integrate and lose their culture and identity in order to become included. Foreigners and immigrants are victims of the two worlds (one rich, one poor) that exist today. These issues are particularly evident in France, where immigrants are banished to the impoverished banlieue and told they must learn French values and lose their own country’s values in order to live a better life. The author quotes President Sarkozy as saying, “If foreigners want to remain in France, they have to love France; otherwise, they should leave” (61).

2008 Chloe Mortaud was first ever non-white Miss France

Next, Badiou discusses the topic of identity. He defines it as “the series of characteristics and properties by way of which an individual or a group recognizes itself as its ‘self’”(64). He also questions whether the existence of different identities is preventing a unified world. Badiou argues that each person has the right keep his own identity rather than integrate. It is also possible for people to expand their identities. For example, a Moroccan immigrant can become “a Moroccan worker in Paris” (65). He does not have to lose his identity as a Moroccan to live in Paris. Finally, Badiou argues that identities are helpful and serve a purpose as they allow for an ‘exchange of experiences’ (67).

Skyrock is a multi-purpose French social networking site that brings together people of all classes and ethnicities

In summary, in this chapter, Badiou is arguing that, contrary to what many believe, there is not a single world today. There is one world that is rich and another that consists of the ‘other.’ The majority of the population is a part of this world. He also discusses how foreigners and immigrants are a part of this world. However, Badiou believes that, despite the popular belief in France that immigrants must integrate in order to eliminate problems, ‘foreigners are an opportunity’ (69). Their different cultures and identities should be embraced and used to create a better world.

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