Writing this piece on the eve of the national elections on May 9, I think all will agree that the presidential and vice-presidential contest has been the most bitterly fought since the 1986 snap elections.
The fight has been a no-holds-barred grudge fight. Chances are it will continue that way until Election Day, and probably even beyond. Several factors have created this situation. Mindful of column space and time limitations, I should mention at least three highly influential factors. Continue reading “Nurturing mass-based politics online”
I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of philosophical analyses and streetwise observations about Facebook—many of them excellent insights but a few mediocre ones too. Twenty years ago the talk was about the Internet itself. Then 10 years ago it was about the explosive growth of the Web. Now everyone’s trying to define social media, especially Facebook.
I think the simplest way to describe Facebook is in terms of road systems. Think of the Internet as a network of roads, originally designed for quick military deployment but soon expanded to accommodate all kinds of civilian use. Now think of the World Wide Web as an immense assortment of useful (and some not so useful) structures—sidewalks, benches, stalls, stores, markets, supermalls, skyscrapers, parks, parking lots, billboards, office and apartment buildings—that proliferated along the more accessible parts of this road system. It’s still based on the underlying road system, but it’s now a fast-growing city.
Note: This piece was first published in the Northern Dispatch (Nordis) Weekly (www.nordis.net) on July 17, 2011. I made some minor editing for this post.
Of course there is only one Internet. It is composed of many parts, to be sure, and there are many ways of “surfing it.” But it is just one big whole, just as there is only one global ocean even if it’s composed of many parts and there are many ways of travelling through it.
So, why must the question be asked at all? Why should we be concerned whether the Internet takes this or that shape?