Friday, October 29, 2010
Ronfeldt and Arquilla present in their article “The Promise of Noopolitik” the articulation of a new, and I argue distinct, concept not just in the field of communications but one that is positioned to oppose the approach of realpolitik in International Relations studies. To what extent is their concept of the noosphere emerging as a reality in the world of today’s statecraft and 21st century public diplomacy? What would a post-post script to their article include today, particularly if they were to address Sec. of State Clinton’s speech at the opening ceremony to the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on January 21st of this year?
Their first claim is that in the latter half of the 20th century, there were revolutions in the business affairs and in military affairs. They argue that the time has come for a “revolution in diplomatic affairs” or a RDA. This will depend on the recognition of the importance of the noosphere. The noosphere is similar to more widely-used concepts like “cybersphere” and “infosphere.” They present several definitions for the term. The first, that of the man who coined it, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, was that the world evolved in several stages: the first was a geophere, then a biosphere, and the next will be a noosphere—“a globe-circling realm of the mind…full of fibers and networsk, and a planetary ‘consciousness.’” (Ronfeldt & Arquilla 1999/2007 ) Tielhard claimed, “Fully realized, the noosphere will raise mankind to a high, new evoulutionaryplane, one driven by a collective devotion to moral and juridical principales.” ( )
The noosphere is similar to other network theories of communications, but better, in their opinion. The term encompasses information-processing and information-structuring. It looks at not just how messages and ideas are transmitted but also why they are transmitted and how those ideas fit into the larger goals and values of an organization or system. But is this noosphere becoming more important than other concepts in international relations? Are ideas, and where and how effectively they are dissmentated, the new source of power in the world today? One could answer yes, as again and again, civil society (and not so civil non-state actors) are starting to influence and compromise the nation-states options diplomatically.
Rondfeldt and Arquilla are at their strongest in the postscript’s section on American public diplomacy. Writing at the height of the Bush-era crisis of legitimacy for American foreign policy, they sum up their argument in one sentence: “The point to which we keep returning is that noöpolitik is ultimately about whose story wins.” Obviously, America’s story is now competing with Al Qaeda’s in the global public sphere.
They argued that at the time the post-script was written, public diplomacy in this country had gone off track and looked more like realpolitik than noopolitik. But what about the approach of the U.S. State Department today? First, we should look to Sec. Clinton’s address to the attendants at the opening of the Newseum at the beginning of this year. (link to full text below) I believe that the title of the address itself, “Remarks on Internet Freedom” suggest that the State Department has started to shift its focus.
After her introduction, Clinton gets to the subject of her address with the following statement: “The spread of information networks is forming a new nervous system for our planet.” Later, she paraphrased President Obama, saying “he defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows, the stronger societies become.” She introduced the idea of 21st century statecraft that would call on the State Department to take advantage of these sort of means of diplomacy, that this was a time when a shift was necessary. She stated, “Realigning our policies and our priorities will not be easy.” (Clinton 2010)
So it would seem, at least in theory, the State Department today is shifting toward an acceptance of the importance of ideas in the marketplace of international civil society today. Whether this will help begin a revolution toward a complete noosphere is still yet to be seen, but at least this trend does suggest noopolitik may be starting to win out over realpolitik.
David Ronfeldt & John Arquilla “The Promise of Noopolitik” First
Monday 12 n. 8-6 (1999/2007).
After reading about this analysis of the coverage of suffering, the main concept that surprised me was her idea that the Western population only cares about news that relates to people 'like us.' My first response was, yeah right, there's no way that we only make the suffering of others extraordinary if Westerners are related or the the ones doing the suffering. Yet for every case I could think of, this was true. And if the news and infotainment is showing us what we want to see, then it is a personal reflection of what we care about. I guess we're not quite at the level of 'global consciousness' that we thought, if we do not even care about the suffering of people around the world.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Phoenix InfoNews Chanel is a part of the Phoenix Television family-made up of Phoenix InfoNews, Phoenix Chinese Chanel, and Phoenix Movie Chanel. InfoNews Chanel was the first 24 hour news network to broadcast across the Greater China region which includes Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and importantly mainland China. The station broadcasts out of Hong Kong in Mandarin. The news channel seeks to provide updates and financial news from around the world. Phoenix Satellite Television was launched on March 31, 1996. InfoNews followed a few years later, in 2001. The station is now available in over 150 countries via satellite.
What makes it special, though, is its access and friendly relations with the government of the People’s Republic of China. It is named as one of only a few privately owned companies that are allowed to broadcast into Mainland China. In this way, it opens up the mainland to content that is not broadcast by the government-run media. For example, InfoNews was the only Chinese channel to broadcast live coverage of the 9/11 attacks and had exclusive interviews with both Secretary Colin Powell and President George W. Bush during their visits to China. The Financial Times stated, Phoenix “enjoys rare access into China, which has been denied to other foreign broadcasters.” 
The company seeks to give China and the Pan-Asian region a distinctly global view. CEO and founder Liu Changle is quoted saying, “ [Phoenix TV] is developing a global outlook and independent of local political attachment."  This same wording is reflected on the company’s home website in
English, “Phoenix seeks to transcend the various components of the Greater China and offer Chinese
viewers a media service that is global in outlook and independent of local political attachments.” 
But Phoenix InfoNews is also part of a bigger trend in the world of global media of mergers and conglomerations. Phoenix is a part of the News Corporation family, the company of media giant Rupert Murdoch. McChesney lists News Corp as holding 45 percent interest in Phoenix satellite television.  The company has gone public and Wikipedia lists its ownership as follows:
“Phoenix Satellite Television holdings Ltd is a public limited company. Shareholders include Today's Asia Ltd. with 37.5% of the company, China Mobile Hong Kong Company Limited with 19.9%, Xing Kong Chuan Mei Group Co., Ltd. (wholly-owned by News Corporation) with 17.6%, China Wise International Ltd. with 8.3% and the public with 16.7%.” 
Some theorists see this trend of interlocking ownership and global ownership as not a new globalized media system but rather a triumph of global capitalism.  It’s not a trend that has gone un-criticized. Murdoch and his global reach are often looked down upon. But Phoenix InfoNews is an example of a success—an alternative, free press broadcaster into mainland China.
But the access may come at a price in self-censorship as well. In 1993, Murdoch got into trouble with China over his statement that “[new communication technologies] were a threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere.” and that Chinese leadership could not survive the rise of satellite communication. Since those statements, however, Murdoch has, as McChesney puts it, “bent over backwards to appease”  Chinese leadership. McChesney criticizes Phoenix’s journalism with an example of a Phoenix reporter questioning Chinese premier Zhu Rongii, starting off with “ ‘You are my idol.’”  Perhaps this should not be surprising, as CEO and founder Liu Changle was a colonel in the People’s Liberation Army and worked to produce propaganda for the government during the Cultural Revolution. 
Phoenix InfoNews Chanel, and the larger Phoenix Television are certainly examples of the growth of international news media around the globe. Whether the company is completely successful in its goals to be free from local politics, and in a greater sense, free from the motives of economic growth over journalistic integrity is not clear.
 “Welcome to ifeng.com,” http://www.ifeng.com/phoenixtv/77406726696992768/20040713/11903.shtml.
 “Phoenix Television - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_Television; “Phoenix InfoNews Channel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_InfoNews_Channel.
 Robert McChesney, “The Media System Goes Global,” in International Communication: A Reader (Oxon: Routledge, 2010), 211.
 “Phoenix InfoNews Channel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.”
 “Welcome to ifeng.com,” http://www.ifeng.com/phoenixtv/77406718107058176/20040721/12578.shtml.
 Robert McChesney, “The Media System Goes Global,” 200.
 “Phoenix InfoNews Channel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.”
 Koichi Iwabuchi, “Taking "Japanization" Seriously: Cultural Globalization Reconsidered,” in International Communication: A Reader (Oxon: Routledge, 2010), 410-433; Robert McChesney, “The Media System Goes Global.”
 Robert McChesney, “The Media System Goes Global,” 201.
 Ibid., 211.
 “Phoenix Television,” http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/7343594.
After discussing the pervasiveness of 24-hour news, one must wonder why Africa would not produce a single station. Oceania only has one, but this can be explained by the small population; whereas, in the case of Africa this problem does not exist and one would imagine that there would be a viability of multiple players in the news market.
I think that the central reason for Africa not having a single indigenous 24-hour news channel MUST be culturally based. Cottle and Rai note that the continent does have satellite channels that include news content; however, they are not 24-hour news channels and have a degree of entertainment and drama content. Perhaps this reflects that many Africans are not as enthusiastic about politics as other regions of the world. Cottle and Rai also comment that financial reasons may be the cause for no 24-hour news services. But in a continent which contains Nollywood, the highest producing movie industry, it is hard for me to believe that the finances don't exist to support ONE 24-hour news channel.
In a continent with so many developmental issues, I would imagine that Africans would have a particular interest in producing their own channel to portray issues of health, political corruption and economic growth. To think that African's just do not have personal interest in politics seems absurd... "The horror! The horror!"
Cottle, S. & Rai, M. Global mediations: On the changing ecology of satellite television news
One fan says: "George Harrison once put it very well. 'We gave people hope. We gave people the chance to have fun. We gave people the chance to forget boredom.' Boredom and other such crap. Stupidity of all kinds: political stupidity, cultural stupidity, spiritual stupidity. The Beatles made us forget all that."
Soviet Beatlemania was huge. Young men and women risked arrest to buy bootleg records. They got Beatles haircuts and were occasionally forced to shave their heads. And if a college student were caught with a Beatles record, he or she would be automatically kicked out of school.
Regarding copyright, music producer Andre Trupillo says: "I support not copyright, but copyleft," because of the significant role played by bootleg records in the 1960s. "Musical piracy was the key to freedom in Russia. To have free information." This is in line with Mattelart's discussion of video piracy as used to bypass state controls on communications media. (Interestingly, by the 1970s the Soviet government was making a profit off of its own bootleg copies of select Beatles tracks, released as anonymous "folk music.")
According to journalist Vladimir Posner, "the Beatles did more to undermine the system than any anti-Soviet literature that was passed from hand-to-hand underground." (The documentary is currently available online here.)
Troitsky, Artemy. Back in the USSR: The True Story of Rock in Russia. Winchester, Massachusetts: Faber and Faber, 1987.
Friday, October 1, 2010
So if we as a society take the digital divide seriously, and the growing polarization of our society that is a result, then how should we address it? Our everyday lives suggest that there is a generational gap in technological skills. The Younger generation growing up with computers and internet are far more fearless and quicker to pick up these skills. But not all of the younger generation equally and here we must address the problem in our educational system.
I now look to my own educational background in media literacy for cues. I lucked up, really, particularly in two different programs that stand out in my memory. The first was part of the Georgia Gifted and Talented Program (later renamed “Spectrum”) where we learned simple programming skills on the early Apple computers. We wrote simple programs, usually a simple game, but included graphics and line by line commands. I remember the teacher always had us refer to our computers as “the stupid box” and it was up to us to tell them what do to. Early on, we were manipulators of the technology. It was great for a public school system though the program was not made available to all the students, just a few. Later on, I switched to a private school (well funded) with its own TV production studio. We had to write scripts, edit the videos, and learn how to frame the picture. Again, both programs helped us as students to see the media as constructed, implicitly. We saw ourselves as able to shape the messages, not just as receivers.
So what could and should media literacy programs look like in the educational system? First, technology skills should be made a part of the educational standards, just as important today for students’ success as math and science. But there is no reason why these skills must be taught by themselves. Technological skills should be integrated, with students using and manipulating for their own expression and purpose. Education is stronger at the intersection of subjects and the next generation will be on more equal footing.
Brian O’Neil, “Media Literacy and Communication Rights: Ethical Individualism in the New Media Enviroment” International Communication Gazette 2010: 323.
This has been in the news recently as the U.S. Government announced plans for a bill, to be introduced next year, that would make it easier for law enforcement to wiretap the internet. In recent months, meetings have been held between the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the National Security Agency, the White House, and other government agencies. Officials argue that criminal and terrorism suspects are increasingly using the internet to communicate with one another, which is more difficult to monitor than communication via telephone. The bill would require communications providers (such as BlackBerry, FaceBook, and Skype) to be technically able to comply if served with a wiretap order, including having the ability to intercept and decipher encrypted messages.
The Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act of 1994 required phone and broadband networks to have interception capabilities, but this does not apply to communication service providers. Though they are subject to wiretap orders, communication service providers do not always have the capability to unscramble encrypted messages. Charlie Savage of the New York Times reports that "while some maintain interception capacities, others wait until they are served with orders to try to develop them," which can delay or prevent surveillance of suspects.
According to the New York Times, the bill will likely include the following:
- "Communications services that encrypt messages must have a way to unscramble them.
- Foreign-based providers that do business inside the United States must install a domestic office capable of performing intercepts.
- Developers of software that enables peer-to-peer communication must redesign their service to allow interception."
This proposal raises some concerns over the potential impact on global regulation, and James X. Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, claims that the bill challenges the “fundamental elements of the Internet revolution.” Others worry about the cost of implementation that would be passed down to providers. And another concern is that the ability to intercept and unscramble messages could be exploited by hackers.
In addition, the balance of security and individual privacy needs to also be considered in terms of individual rights. When and to what extent should private communication be intercepted for the "public good" (highly subjective and defined differently from government to government)?
"U.S. Tries to Make it Easier to Wiretap the Internet"
"BlackBerry's Security Approach Leads to Theories of Secret Deals"
He notes that when the first IGF was held in 2005, development was decided upon as one of two important principles to be discussed, yet this is now the first year that the issue has actually been made a key theme of the forum. For this particular workshop Sadowsky has a panel of speakers, each discussing their view of what development means in the context of Internet Governance.
Everton Sara spoke on the subject from the viewpoint of intergovernmental organizations focusing on security and infrastructures without which "there is no possibility of using the internet for whatever means the government wants to and also to promote the security transactions that happened on the internet." Speaker number two had a few disagreements with Everton and spoke from the view of freedom of expression and civil liberty. On the issue of securitization of the internet he notes that the biggest problem with national security is that when there is any threat, it trumps all rights. He sees a strong correlation between freedom and development, and thinks that "institutionalized liberties and rights will in fact help economic and social development and the countries that succeed even if they don't take the pure, purest form of individual rights and liberties." Other speakers focused on development from a business view and in the context of professional technical management issues.
It is interesting that there are so many ways to look at one subject; but as George Sadowski says, "We all look at the world through different lenses and multiple lenses by the way. And that lense affects what our view of the world is and what we think is important." This workshop really reflects this years IGF theme: Developing the Future Together by incorporating different specialists to speak on what development and internet governance means to them.
Workshop transcript: http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/transcripts/697-174