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POL_30030 Political Communication.

We have not left late capitalism behind and entered a post modern period; however it cannot be argued that nothing has changed. I will divide this essay into two parts. In the first part of this essay I will convey five features of internet use that can depict an excellent example of post modern experience. First I will demonstrate how the capacity to be selective on-line means that one is far less likely to be challenged. I will illustrate how his lack of confrontation and debate are key characteristics of post modern behaviour. Next I will show how both filter bubbles and facebook depict the post political feature of postmodernism. I will then portray how the web permits post modern behaviour by facilitating mash ups. The fourth area I will look at is fragments and hyperlinks. I will argue that these elements of the internet have altered the way we see the world and are prime examples of post modern behaviour. I will place my analysis of blogs at the ending of the first section and the beginning of the second. This is because blogs represent both sides of this argument. Does this use of the internet demonstrate that we live in a post ideological age? No. Even though these aspects of internet use seem like a perfect example of post modern behaviour, this essay will argue that we do not live in a new era of post modern society. I will begin the second half of this essay by revealing the paradox of the internet. Alongside the capability to be selective online I will explain the substantial scope to debate old and familiar political ideas. Next I will analyse how the political philosophy of the web developed alongside its technological evolution. I will then briefly denote some time to the technological development of the web. I will then highlight the crucial fact that the debate about the net is modern. Within this paragraph I will analyse John Perry Barlows Declaration on the Independence of Cyber Space and how it was directly set against an interventionist social democratic regime. I will show the relevance this debate has today by explaining the reason behind American Censorship Day. I will epitomize the contending nature of libertarian ideology and social democratic ideology. I will highlight the element of post modern behaviour in the modern debate on regulation. Next I will explain that smart filters are too controlling to be classified as essentially social democratic. In contrast to metafilter.com I will demonstrate that smart filters could essentially eliminate political discussion. Within this paragraph I will illustrate that the Open Net Initiative is an example of modern ideology. I will conclude this

essay by analysing the debate on conglomerate power. I will show how this debate was and still is, a modern debate. The ability to be selective online can eliminate the opportunity for political debate. Internet use has facilitated a personal online experience for what I propose to call the new liberal citizen. The abundance of information found on the web allows this citizen to have their own space devoid of political debate. This use of the internet illustrates post modern behaviour. The postmodern approach excludes the feasibility that ideology which had impelled politics for at least the previous century, maintains relevance. ...that postmodern society is characterised by a lack of adherence to overarching philosophical systems and beliefs (Berger, 2003: 95). The internet enables this new liberal citizen by giving them a tailored result of what they desire. The internet facilitated us to enter an information society through its delivery of information. Many authors see this delivery of information via the internet as the third industrial revolution or the Information revolution (Kumar, 1995:8). The plethora of information on-line gives the new liberal citizen an ability to be selective. This capability to be specific means that they are far less likely to be challenged on-line by other political attitudes. Without challenges, the on-line experience for the new liberal citizen becomes tailored to their own needs. The substantial amount of information on-line allows the liberal citizen to be particular. This particularity can create an on-line space devoid of political debate. The web reflects the post political feature of postmodernism by enabling the user through on-line filter bubbles and facebook. This bubble creates a restrictive space on-line that can expel the attitudes from the contending political ideologies of the modern period. The internet is tending to create a world adapted specifically for the user. Eli Pariser depicts how search engines are altered to take into account the type of computer, location and seating arrangement of the user. (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html/: 2011). He compared the results when two users searched under Egypt and showed them to be remarkably different. Based on this evidence it can be argued that the returned results had been altered by the search algorithms to appeal to the needs of the individual searcher as demonstrated by previous searchers and other on-line information. (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html/: 2011). The web provides for this post modern way of thinking by creating a unique world for each of its

users. Pariser also uses the example of facebook editing out conservative links that would exhibit challenging information to the web user. He is very impressive in demonstrating the limiting nature of facebook. This new application on facebook can nudge the user into a post modern experience. Facebook can prevent the user reading, hearing or seeing challenging information. The facbook user is now confined by seeing only what their facebook friends post and discuss. Facebook alongside these restrictive bubbles, create an on-line world that tends to avoids challenging material. This cognitive dissonance is a fundamental characteristic of post modernism. The web facilitates this post modern behaviour through mash-ups which move away from a grasp of the world as consisting of image versus real. The Web is a fluid society containing so much information and images. The postmodern age is said to be one in which distinctions are blurred between reality and appearance (Altheide and Snow, 1991:11).The simulacrum denies the traditional distinction between real and image. Simulacra are imitations that have lost the original objective murderers of the real, murderers of their own model (Kumar, 1995:124). In the modern period there were concerns over representation and getting to the truth. There was a quest to get beneath the surface image and to find the real. The post modern approach argues that the distinction has disappeared into the simulacrum. A mash-up is a web page or application that connects information from two or more services to create a new single service. Mash-ups move away from the truth. Mash-ups represent the hyper-real. The web enables this new experience in which there is no real versus image. A mash-up is a pastiche because there is no single original. In this age the pastiche is becoming more important than the original (Berger, 2003:96). Hutton depicts how the user of the web can now create his/ her own truth Now the beholder can create the truth he or she wants (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/: 2006). The development of the web has created a world were facts are selected, ordered and distorted to present any number of truths. Hutton demonstrates Wakefields wrong link of the MMR to autism. Despite the fact we are creating our own truth, Hutton argues for the unlimited space of information valued by early net libertarians. Only an abundance of information can let us discover the truth and the ammunition is information (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/:2006). However, it is the plethora of information on the web that has caused this new electronic reality (Kumar, 1995:122). The web has facilitated a new hyper reality where there is no image versus real view of the world.

The internet demonstrates postmodernism by creating a fluid virtual society. Internet use has created a shift in ones fundamental understanding of the world. Although we may not have transformed into a post-industrial society, our view of the world has been seriously altered. The web has modified the way we see the world through the use of fragments and hyper links. As stated by Ignatieff (1989) postmodernism is increasingly a culture catering for people with the attention span of a flea (Walkerdine, Curran& Morley, 1996:61). Hyper links enable the user to acquire knowledge with minimal effort and time restraint. The post modern age is characterised by its fast pace. What was once a three minute culture in the age of broadcasting (Walkerdine, Curran& Morley, 1996:61) is now transformed to a .3 second culture via the internet. Blogs can seem like a perfect example of post modern experience but they are also characterised by the clash of old and familiar political ideas. Blogs can be argued by both sides of the debate but their popularity is diminishing. A postmodern world is a world without a grounding theory or narrative. ...incredulity towards metanarratives (Berger, 2003: 95). This age portrays an anti theory with no ideological core. According to post modern theorists our experience is devoid of political debate because there are no present ideological clashes. Blogs are a major characteristic of the post 2005 stage of internet development. The open nature of the internet makes it the ideal medium for the individual blogger. A blog is a web based log that reflects the opinion of the author (Devereux, 2007:62). In Tony Blairs Feral media speech in 2007 he depicted the move away from traditional media outlets and into blogs. There are 70 million blogs in existence, with 120,000 being created every day. (Tony Blairs Speech on the Changing Relationship between politics and the media, 2007). According to Andrew Keen Huffpost is the worlds most influential blog. Keen argues that this blog has no ideological viewpoint (Keen, 2008). This is untrue. Although this is a counter- hegemonic blog it still maintains different view points across a wide range of topics. The use of the internet in this way he argues is a threat to representative democracy. On this blog journalists are being replaced by opinionated celebrities (Keen, 2008). Within this article Keen argues against communitarian ideas of citizenship and the emergence of the citizen journalist He believes this type of internet use has created the cult of the Amateur, which has no fundamental ideological core (Keen, 2008). This creation of a citizen journalist directly contradicts his early statement that blogs are devoid of modern theory. Ideologies are found in blogs throughout the internet. Postmodernism is characterised by a specific lack of ideology. Blogs often present familiar political ideas. This fact is significant because it argues

against blogs being classified as a perfect example of post modern experience. It should be noted that very few blogs are read. Despite being characterised as an element of post modern behaviour many blogs have maintained their political discussions. The same cannot be said about facebook. Blogging may become less popular as facebook increases in popularity. In contrast to blogs, facebook is restrictive and can eliminate all political debate. Blogs convey an element of both modernism and postmodernism but their influence is decreasing. Paradoxically, the internet seems to provide an unchallenging flow of favourable information to individuals (point1 and 2), but it also seems to offer significant scope for collective, shared identity and debate. The internet maintains the values of the people who first invented it. This culture had distinct shared values that came from the modern period. Demonstrating access to tools was the job of the Original Earth Catalog before the Web. The Whole Earth Catalog established a challenging and comprehensive world view in its direct years of publication 1968-72 and in many articles published after 1972 (www.wholeearth.com/: 13/11/11). Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant founded the WELL Whole Earth Lectronic Link in 1985 (Curran and Seaton, 2003:246). As well as the WELL society students developed dispersed grass-root networks including Usenet (1979), BITNET (1981), Fido Net (1983) and Peace Net (1985) (Curran and Seaton, 2003:246). The most significant of these were Usenet news groups built around the UNIX system. Usenet established an important place for the expression of minority views at this time (Curran and Seaton, 2003:246). This minority view included a combination of communitarians, free market liberalism and anti system libertarianism. Community and shared experience is still facilitated by the Web through sites such as Wikipedia. Alongside the faculty to be selective on-line there is substantial capability to debate old and particular political theories. Wikipedia is the primal site to validate the ethos of the early pioneers: (http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2011/06/morozov-web-no-utopia-twenty-years-shorthistory-internet/: 2011). Wikipedia was established as a site to share knowledge with other people. Shared in this context is defined as political argument with others. This type of internet use is characterised by extensive political debate, which is in direct contrast to post modern experience. This familiar political argument exists alongside an agreeable plethora of online information.

The early development and use of the internet was defined by a preservation of modern ideas. The post prefix can also suggest a degree of continuity from the modern (Kumar, 1995:137). The American counter culture of the 1980s had a huge influence on shaping the early internet. This counter culture consisted of hippies, a communitarian subculture and radical sub culture who believed in a more populist mode of government (Curran and Seaton, 2003:246).The web was designed as a frontier that had no limit to information and no scarcity in resources. The political philosophy of the web developed alongside its technological development. The frontier philosophy of early net thinkers based their ideas on libertarianism. Liberalism stressed the importance of the competent citizen who took part in political debate. Parties and political actors were among the first people to establish a presence in cyberspace (Caramani, 2008:484). The early days of web 1.0 saw the internet being used as a place to do politics. The earliest reports of launching of websites appeared in 1994 around the US Congressional mid-term elections (Caramani, 2008:484). E-government initiatives were developed in this early stage alongside utopian vistas who wished to keep government influence on the web to a minimum (Caramani, 2008:486). The internet accommodated for both anti system libertarians and politicians in this early stage. The later development of the web is described in two stages. The early days of web 1.0 takes place from around 1994-2005 (Caramani, 2008:486). Political communication via the web included a role for the state through the establishment of governmental websites. Sign-up email news bulletins began to appear more widely post-2000, allowing candidates and parties to target their message and to create a continuous and updated flow of information (Caramani, 2008:486). Despite the development of both liberal and state websites this was a period of limited innovation for elites and minimal participation of citizens. A significant shift in web design and use came in 2004 with the emergence of web 2.0. ... a point of paradigm shift in the functionality of the web (Caramani, 2008:486).It was during this time that internet use came to be predominantly seen as an archetype for post modern experience. Despite some features of the net prescribing to postmodern behaviour, the debate about the net is essentially modernist. A declaration of the independence of cyber space by John Perry Barlow illustrated the familiar anti system libertarianism of the modern period. He was a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a fundamental cheerleader of the internet

(http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2011/06/morozov-web-no-utopia-twenty-years-shorthistory-internet/: 2011). In this declaration Barlow precisely told the state to stay out of cyber space. Sixties utopias were perceived by an anarcho-syndicalist vision of socialism (DeKoven, 2004: 271).This freedom rests on a modern political philosophy. This debate depicts how our society is not postmodern. He wrote this declaration primarily in response to the passing into law of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 in the US (A Declaration of the Independence of Cyber Space, John Perry Barlow, 1996). This law made it unlawful to say anything that broadcasting could not say. He wanted the internet to develop its own social contracts to handle problems instead of regulation. This declaration was directly against an interventionist social democratic theory also from the modern period. This is old fashioned political philosophy. Barlow was a freewheeling libertarian who had a vision to rule out state regulation on line. You have no right to rule us nor do you possess any methods we have true reason to fear (Barlow, 1996). This frontier philosopher conveyed the message that the state could be transcended in cyberspace. This debate depicts the clash of some old and familiar political ideas. The net demonstrates an ideological clash between anti-system libertarians and social democrats. The EFF Electronic Frontier Foundation was founded in 1990 to defend digital freedom in the courts When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is the first line of defence (www.eff.org/ :2011). A current clash between modernist perspectives on internet use can be seen in the establishment of American Censorship Day to be held on the 16/11/11. The U.S government and private corporations wish to create a blacklist of censored websites. This regulation is known as Protect IP Act in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the house. The libertarians alongside the EFF believe state controls are limiting and should be resisted. They are against Hollywoods new war on software Freedom and Internet Innovation (www.eff.org/ :2011). This case is just one amongst many cases in which the EFF is fighting against an interventionist social democratic approach. Both political ideas are from the modern period. Familiar libertarian ideology is directly against the interventionist social democratic ideal to regulate features often regarded as undesirable. There is an element of post modern behaviour in this essentially modern debate. Barlow argued that the great virtue of the net would be no regulation. But no regulation has brought problems. According to Jenny Diski the internet was

supposed to be A dream library of everything (Diski, 2007). With the abundance of information herself and many followers argued that too often the good information supplied on the web fell to the bottom. As results become more specified for the user (point 1 and 2), the best result is getting even further away in web searches. As stated by Hutton So much information seems to mean its degradation (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/: 08/11/11). Scott Lash agrees that this unnecessary information disinformation facilitated by the internet is connected to the postmodern and got to do with information culture. (Lash, 2002: 142). To solve this problem websites such as metafilter.com and Meta Talk began to act as regulating websites. Instead of an unlimited frontier argued by Barlow many websites have now become elitist by requesting membership fees in order to discard of garbage online (Diski, 2007). The increase in numbers subscribed to this site meant that self policing broke down. In 2004 two moderators were employed to make sure people were treated with respect. This regulatory system stems from social democracy of the modern period. The lack of regulation on the internet, strongly favoured by liberals, is causing some websites to regulate themselves through on line moderators. On this website you cannot say anything you wish that youll treat others with opposing viewpoints with absolute respect (Diski, 2007). This regulation has helped create a political forum online. Post modern experience lacks political agitation. The use of these websites actively engages its users with politics and it can therefore be argued that we are not in a postmodern age. It should be noted that this opulence of information is a feature of post modern internet experience. The development of regulated websites with moderators has allowed internet users to contest these old and familiar political ideas. The development and use of the web is characterised by these two contending ideologies. Alongside this debate there is again an element of post modern behaviour. According to the libertarian Becky Hogge the real hazard to internet users is censorship and not social networking sites that depict modern experience (Hogge, 2007).To regulate a feature implies control by the state and not the internet user. Some countries like Tunisia have used smart filters to block out categories including politics and opinions on search engines. This type of direct regulation is preventing the confrontation of modernist political theory. This use of the internet by China, Burma and Saudi Arabia is preventing political discussion. (Hogge, 2007). In contrast to websites that portray managerial features like metafilter.com, smart filters can eliminate politics. The idea of supervision stems from an interventionist modern theory, however the development

of smart filters go further than regulation. Smart filters can segment all political discussion. In the new media age, censorship will take place at the fat pipe level (Hogge, 2007). Based on this evidence it can be argued that this use of the internet is more dominating than the modern social democratic approach on regulation. The Open Net Initiative against these types of Smart filters is an example of liberalism. Freedom of information is freedom to be supplied with information that one requests or that it be attainable to anyone who searches for it. This initiative therefore argues that the user should be free to value political opinions online and should not be subject to the intense regulation of smart filters. It should be noted that participation in online argument may be the experience of an elite. As mentioned in the first half of this essay, the capacity to be selective online means that citizens are now less likely to engage in confrontational political debate. Even though freedom was a fundamental value for early net thinkers, it is not clear that the majority of citizens engaged in gossip and amusement would contend its importance. The Open Net Initiate is a libertarian approach against a forceful regulatory regime. Smart filters go beyond regulation and pose a serious threat to online political debate. This global debate on the rise of conglomerate power in 2003 was in essence modernist. It was and still is a clash between the elite and the less well off. The advent of pay-only media would add greatly to social inequality around the world. This ongoing debate is on net neutrality. The end to end principle put forward by David D Clarke, is the precedent to the concept of net neutrality (http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2011/06/morozov-web-no-utopia-twenty-yearsshort-history-internet/: 2011). The idea of free software is not new. In the 1960s and 1970s, the concept of making source code freely available was standard research practice for most countries such as MIT and UC Berkeley. (Latham and Sasses, 2005: 179).Today, however, the best part of software production is organised under the economic logic enforced by a fairly standard intellectual property rights system. (Latham and Sasses, 2005: 179). This may result in the Internet becoming dominated by the elite who can afford to pay the most to have their information packets out there (Devereux, 2007:72). Lessig and Wu were leading researchers on this topic in 2003. Their primary fear was the creation of a multi-tier internet which gave affluent consumers privileged access. They argue for survival of the fittest, rather than that favoured by network bias (http://www.timwu.org/wu_lessig_fcc.pdf :2003).This notion is in complete opposition to the early net libertarians vision of a new world of on-line activity and unlimited space. This ever developing pay-per-use fee structure is directly excluding the lower social

classes and the developing world. This development of the internet is creating digital divide betweeninformation rich and information poor countries (Devereux, 2007:72). Nowadays, it may be the prosperous who are buying the latest devices that are moving most quickly from online political participation. The internet facilitates for this divide by forcing consumers payment for admittance to specialist information sites and online newspapers. This type of internet development would take away the webs modernist aspect. Discursive political debate would decrease. This development would remove this clash of ideology we see today on the web, and would create a more elite virtual community. This development is precisely opposing the early net thinkers view of the internet as a tool to flatten the world (http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2011/06/morozov-web-no-utopia-twenty-years-shorthistory-internet/2011). Internet developer Berners-Lee is entirely against this commercialisation of the web. In 1991 he persuaded CERN to release the world wide web code as a free gift to the community. His approach finds fulfilment in service to others, and resents the exaltation of market values above all else (Curran and Seaton, 2003:247). A neutral network annihilates the risk of future discrimination and makes the world more impartial. However, business people know that the control of property rights and production are converted to profit in a modern economy (Latham and Sasses, 2005: 180). This debate is essentially a social debate that identifies with modern ideology. In conclusion, certain uses of the internet are a perfect example of post modern experience however, the development and use of the internet is specifically defined by a clash of modern ideology. The plethora of information found on the web creates a faculty to be specific. This specificity can eliminate the scope for challenging information online. This results in an on-line space lacking political debate. This deficiency is a key characteristic of post modern behaviour. Facebook and filter bubbles also highlight this post political aspect of post modern experience. Other aspects of post modernism have also come to characterise internet use. The post modern approach demonstrates that the distinction between image and reality has vanished into the simulacrum. A mash up is a pastiche that has abandoned this distinction. This type of internet use enables the user to create any number of their own truths. This characteristic of post modernism was highlighted by Wakefields wrong link of the MMR to autism. Fragments and speedy hyperlinks have also changed the way we see the world. The post modern world is defined by this fast pace. Blogs are an example of post political modernism however, they also depict the clash of

modern ideology. As stated by Keen Huffpost contains no political viewpoint. This is not true. Opinionated celebrities do argue different viewpoints. This use of blogs is directly against the post political feature of post modernism. A case can be made highlighting the political importance of blogs, however this essay has shown that their popularity is decreasing due to the increasing demand of facebook. Facebook more readily denies this clash of ideology. In contrast to facebook, websites such as Wikipedia enable the user to debate modern ideology online. This use of the internet is in direct contrast to the tailored on-line experience that depicts the modern approach. The early development of the internet was influenced by libertarianism. This ideology influenced the very earliest development of the internet through its creation of a frontier devoid of restrictions. The later development of the web is divided into web 1.0 and 2.0. The latter depicts the post modern use of the internet. The debate about the net is modernist. John Perry Barlows Declaration was in opposition to an interventionist social democratic ideology from the modern period. This clash of ideologies is revealed again in the current debates on censorship and regulation. These debates highlight the disagreement between libertarians and social democrats. Social democrats wish to regulate censorship through the SOPA act and they argue for regulation sites such as metafilter.com. On the other side of these debates are libertarians who which to eliminate this control. An element of post modernism is present in these current debates. The abundance of information on-line has created this disinformation described by Lash. Smart filters are too authoritative to be defined as social democratic regulation The Open Net Initiate created in response to this intense regulation can be characterised as an example of liberalism. The current debate on the acceleration of conglomerate power is also modernist. It is a social debate that encapsulates modern ideology. Internet use epitomizes both post modern behaviour and the ethos of the modern period.

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