Tuesday, 08 June 2010
With a quarter of the human race now online, the Internet is bringing out a new spirit of collaboration and co-operation among people across the planet to tackle some of the great challenges we face as a species.
This is one of the themes explored in a major new international book, launched today by iiNet’s Michael Malone, “The Internet: An Introduction to New Media”, by Professor Lelia Green of Edith Cowan University and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation.
According to Professor Green, the Internet has demonstrated that people are huge collaborators, not just the competitors we sometimes like to see ourselves as.
But people are also logging on to understand more about each other’s cultures, to defuse international tensions, and to join hands globally in tackling problems like climate change, disease, poverty and resource scarcity.
Today the Internet is bridging cultures, language barriers, continents, belief systems and individual interests in a way that no other activity, trade, travel or media environment can approach, Professor Green says.
“People are using the Internet to build society and social capital – but I am very concerned that governments are starting to view it as a new form of power, and are seeking ways to control it.”
This is currently playing out in Australia over the issue of the Rudd Government’s plans to censor the Internet, she says.
“You have the curious position of Australia, a leading democracy, taking action that so far has only been sanctioned by countries such as China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran, to restrict access to the Internet for its citizens. This is deeply disturbing to other democracies – and a lonely path for Australia to follow.”
iiNet CEO Michael Malone says that in the West, the Internet is near ubiquitous, and each of us has our own distinct view of its impact on our own corner of the world.
“Lelia asks us to step back and see the impact on the world as a whole, both historically and into the future. It's an important look at how this technology has affected our society, as well as the reverse: how our changing society is shaping the technology itself."
Spanning a vast canvas, “The Internet: An Introduction to New Media” takes the reader from the origins of the Internet to its emerging future, addressing its contribution to society, government and individuals and exploring the different technological, political, economic and global contexts that frame everyday use. In particular the book traces how the internet has passed from the control of technological elites into the hands of ordinary people around the world.
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