Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Earthquake in Japan: the role of the Internet

The Internet has been a permanent and essential source of information about the horrible tragedy that took place this 11th of March in Japan. Twitter and Wikipedia have been the best and most important sources to get updated information. These are just one of the two examples of how the news about the Earthquake have spread through the web. Facebook, Google and Youtube have also played a main role, together with digital newspapers such as The New York TimesBBC or El Mundo

Twitter. In Tokyo alone, twitter reports that 1,200 minutes are been sent per minute, providing an insightful overview of the situation. 

Wikipedia. A group of contributors opened a page detailing important information related to the earthquake. Twelve hours since the earthquake hit, that page was edited more than 500 times. 

As well as associating with Save the Children and The Red Cross, facebook has published an album which shows, nearly every hour, which countries are commeting the most about the earthquake. 

Google. They set off a very useful tool to find people and a web page with the latest news. Google Maps reported the exact positions of the affected locations, shelters in Tokyo, the eathquake's epycentre and more. Finally, images (which have been used all over the world) of the most devastated areas before and after the tsunami were published.

Youtube. Citizentube showed the most raw footage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

This is an example of the main role that social networks and digital newspapers are acquiring. Nowadays, they are one of the main sources of information, in fact, they are the fastest and the most efficient way to reach the most updated information. In extreme cases like this one, people need to be in constant communication and getting information as rapidly as possible. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Internet Governance: Conflicts of Governance in China

   China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) imposed the 14th of December a total control of domain names, to have the complete power over the internet. The CNNIC has recently introduced a procedure for those who want to register a domain: the registration must be done in a written application form and they can only register if they prove they own a business and can provide the registration information (paper documents, a copy of the business license and copy of the national ID card of the individual who wants the web page). Furthermore, China’s government wants to force people to have a license for providing audio or video content, the result has been that anyone who wants to provide audio-content needs to have legal personality and the web has to be financed by the state.

Chinese citizens are able to use the Internet to communicate with others, for entertainment, to take part in commercial activities and to obtain allowed information. When China started to use the Internet, it presented a challenge to the Chinese government control over information flows and public opinion, however, in search of economic growth and modernization, the government actively promoted Internet development.

Some people hoped that this would encourage political expression and democracy in the country. However, the Chinese government has the most sophisticated content-filtering Internet regime in the world (according to an empirical study of the OpenNet Iniciative). The governments of the People’s Republic in China (PCR) places strict limitations on its domestic and foreign news media. Information that is considered “politically sensitive” or that conveys organized dissent and criticism of the Communist Party is not tolerated. Information websites such as the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and the public encyclopedia, Wikipedia, have been regularly blocked in China, while other news sources, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and CNN have been completely blocked. Websites that carry news in Chinese language generally face greater censorship obstacles than English-only webpages. 

 A recent example to China's Internet Governance is the "Sidi Bouzid Revolt" or the "Jasmine Revolution"
.The Chinese government is afraid that the echos of the Arab revolution will reach China and provoke an uprising of the sort. Consequently, the government has censored words like "Sidi Bouzid" and "Jasmine" in order to avoid revolutionist ideas reach the Chinese people.

Click here to get more information about the subject

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Participatory Journalism

Participatory journalism is “the act of a citizen, or groups of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information". Authors Bowman and Willis say: "The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires." 

Many people are afraid that this type of journalism are jeopardizing what they call "real journalism"; serious, dedicated and professional writing about what are considered the most important, relevant and shocking news. However, I personally believe that participatory journalism is not a threat, it's a way of interacting and exchanging information with people that have similar interests to you, and t
his is exactly what blogs are for. 
Here is a list of the characteristics about participatory journalism that I consider very positive:

  • People are able to read and write about the subjects they prefer. It allows independency of information to individual needs and interests.
    "In the future, online news would give readers the ability to choose only the topics and sources that interested them" - Nicholas Negroponte.
  • There will be decentralization of information as well as more news to compare and contrast
     "The question is not about greater personalization but greater perspective" - 
    Watts Wacker. 
  • People have the opportunity to exchange opinions, personal believes and personal feelings, it is based on interactivity. "This kind of high-tech interaction is a journalism that resembles conversation again" - Kovach and Rosenstiel. 
This is a very interesting video in which Perry Mehrling (a professor of economics in Barnard College in New York City who received his Ph.D in Harvard University) talks about his recent and new experience with blogs and how new media became the go-to resource during the global financial collapse and how they might grow in importance over the old media in the future.

The Role of Blogs and New Media During the Global Crisis

At the beginning of the economic crisis, Perry Mehrling started to write to the editor Financial Times about the situation as well as posting in Martin Wolf's blog. As the crisis got worst, he realized that there were many other blogs related to the subject and that they were a much faster way to keep up with the financial situation, they were ahead of normal newspapers.

He has learned from blogs that...
"When things are happening, there are more media sources of information that are faster. The new media, the blogging world has broken down all the controls about who gets to talk and who gets to listen".

 don't give you respect because you are for example a professor, you get respect for whether you have something to say that makes any sense [...] you are at the same level as other people, and there are people who know more about specific details that I do, and so I read them and I learn."

"It is extremely fascinating to hear people's conversation. You can look and listen to it until you are ready to participate yourself".

In conclusion, as Rosenberg said: "Weblogs aren’t competing with the work of the professional journalism establishment, but rather completing it".