Term Paper 1 May 28 1996 Class: Mass Media In America By: Fredline McCormack McCormack Commission on: The New Technology Available, with emphasis on the Internet In today’s rapidly advancing world, we are confronted day to day with new and better technological advances. These advances have given rise to a whole new system of media that daily broadens the gates of communication that we now have available. We are now faced with a whole new world of media and are no longer limited to the conventional avenues that were once so prevalent, avenues such as print, television and broadcast. Today’s society also has the internet, the worldwide webb, digitalization and on-line services to name just a few. These new sources of media hold many promises for society today, and have even been said will eventually supplant television and the movies as a main source of entertainment.1 However, as with all innovations, these too are tempered with hazards and problems. The purpose of this report is to examine the benefits that this new technology promise, as well as the resulting problems and their shortcomings. Furthermore, the report will suggest ways in which these media can be improved to meet the ideals discussed. Ideals of New Technology A fundamental ideal of the new technology is that of making the world appear smaller, reducing it to what has been termed a “Global Village”. Technological advances should make it possible for people from all over the world to communicate at the simple touch of a set of keys - located on a computer key board. A person from China should be able to communicate with someone in Africa or in America all from a computer terminal. The new technology should facilitate the exchange of ideas among people from differing backgrounds. The ability to contact and talk to people from all around the world will encourage tolerance and will also be an extremely educational experience. It will also have economic benefits. According to Lisa Picarille’s article in Computerworld, ‘global communications via the internet and electronic mail will allow companies to employ workers from around the world.” The article also cites the opportunities of being able to effectively do business on a global scale - companies can create, market and deliver their products to anyone who wants them, all via the internet. New technology, especially advances such as the internet, should, then, be able to allow users maximum penetration to all parties. In this sense it should be a very effective tool for advertisers as they will no longer be limited to advertising products to a domestic market but can expand their penetration to a global scale. Another ideal is that of centralisation in organisation. A systematic system of operation would help make the internet a more effective tool as it would reduce inefficiencies and boost performance levels. This organised system of regulation should touch all levels of internet performance - from the allocation of domain names to the regulation of ‘routing tables’ - the database of interconnections. The organisation should also be able to adequately meet the challenges and problems that global communications bring with it, problems such as differing government ideals of what is decent etc. This leads me into another ideal of new technology. The internet, as an additional media source should also be able to enjoy the privilege of freedom of speech that other media sources currently possess. Ideally, it should be a forum in which people can exchange ideas and view material with unrestricted access. Confidentiality is another central ideal of these new forms of technology. People should be able to utilize these new technology confident in the security of their transactions. Although this is applicable of all internet use, it is especially important in the areas of company transactions. A further ideal new media should fulfill is that of accessibility. The numerous advantages that the internet can bring should be made available to all regardless of age, socio- economic status, race and sex. Evaluation of New Technology in performance of these ideals and suggestions for Improvement I feel that the arena of global communication is the one in which the ideals stated have best been met. Technology such as the internet and its interconnected world wide webb have an astonishing penetration and global reach. It is now possible to communicate virtually anywhere in the world as long as one has a computer and modem. However, this is not without it’s share of complications. With the prospect of unrestricted global communications, differences in community standards of what is morally decent and indecent have led to attempts by some governments to restrict the information flow. An 23example of this is the Compu-Serve incident where Compu-serve, an on-line service provider, cut off access to more than 200 forums and picture data-bases containing pornographic material. This action was in response to accusations made by a German State prosecutor’s office that the company was breaking the law by allowing access to child pornography. Further examples of international tangles cited by Amy Cortese and John Corey in their article, “Alt.sex.bondage is closed. Should we be scared?”, include the Chinese government’s crackdown on “spiritual pollution” in the form of pornography anti- government material entering the country via the internet. In China, the number of internet users jumped from 3,000 to 100,000 last year. Another example is Jordan, where “data- line licenses bar Jordanian service providers from ‘indecent’ content”. The lack of borders in internet communication has led to an inevitable clash of cultures and this has given rise to a number of problems that are difficult to resolve. There is no simple way to restrict the information on the net to a particular area as was seen in the Compu-Serve incident where the company was forced to stop access to all it’s subscribers to satisfy German law. How then can the new technologies allow unrestricted access to information and yet still be able to comply to the differing standards found in different companies? This is where the ideal of centralisation comes in.