Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Communication and Cyberspace: Chapters 1, 4, 10, 11, 18

In Chapter 1, the authors introduce the chapter by clarifying that cyberspace and the physical environment are two completely different realms. The laws that exist in reality might not work as efficiently when used in the digital world. This chapter also describes how we have attempted to mold cyberspace as close to reality as possible. The immersive qualities of the Internet are made apparent by computer programmer, David Alsberg. When he passed away, two communities mourned his death: his family and friends composed one community, the other consisted of his online friends that had their own version of a wake online. This shows the growth of which people are using the Internet as a medium for social interaction. Social interaction that takes place in electronic space redefines the nature of creating relationships in public and private spheres. The Internet is beginning to blur the line between  public and private relationships because of its accessibility to a number of various sources. The authors also discusses the repercussions of cyberspace on physical space. They refer to Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame to build their argument where the character states, "The book will destroy the church." What the character means by this is that soon old technology will be replaced or remediated by newer more efficient technology. With the acceleration of digitalization dominating different industries, it is easy to be concerned that all assets of real space will eventually enter electric space.

In Chapter 4, Neil Kleinman points out the question, how do we enforce notions of property in a medium that advocates the complete freedom of information? The broad and extensive nature of electronic media makes it extremely difficult to apply copyright laws. Some solutions have surfaced including the search for careful balance between the scope of copyright protection and its duration that makes for the optimal access to information. Two strategies have risen to quell the conflicts between the public and producers. Either one should place limited protection combined with a rather extended period of protection or broaden protection combined with a more limited period of duration.  As a way to resolve this issue, Congress enacted the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 which forbid the creation or marketing of devices that allow for the circumvention of technologies intended to protect copyright material.

Chapter 10 discusses the digital divide which is the divide between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not. This divide is fueled by economic factors such as income. Some believe that this is an issue that should be resolved by the industries and others believe that the issue is government responsibility. One way the government tried solving the issue was through the $12.5 million in grants they gave in order to stimulate nonprofit organizations that serve underprivileged rural and urban areas to incorporate advanced network technologies to enhance their services. As of today with the availability of more inexpensive computers, I think the digital divide has definitely narrowed.

In Chapter 11, the authors examine the risks associated with the Internet. One of the most prominent concerns is pornography. Because of its popularity and availability on the Web, pornography along with other vices has led to criticisms of the new medium. The Internet was thought to be an "evil influence", possessing a toxic environment that induces immorality. It was described as a portal of pornography, hate speech, and violence. As a society, we try to balance these risks and negative qualities with the superfluous benefits that this new technology has to offer. I also think it's important that we sculpt the next generation to know how to responsibly patrol and enjoy the internet. The public receives a certain degree of power from Internet use, and with great power comes great responsibility.

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