Monday, October 19, 2009

New Media, Politics and Regulation

Castell's article, “Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society” introduces concepts that revolve around politics and decision-making in the network society. He writes about how politicians are the face of politics in general. They have to sell themselves using their and image and looks. This is particularly interesting given the time that article was written (2007) because communication technologies were decisive in the last presidential election. Blogs, emails, facebook and other such social media sites were all utilized by the candidates. This perhaps led to the high young adult turnout. Castells writes how credibility and destruction of credibility and character assassination become potent political weapons. This has also been the case recently with politicians personal lives showing up in the news. It is not just about the politics, but about the person. Trust plays a big part. The media can built politicians up or bring them down.

People have built what Castells calls mass self-communication via podcasts, wikis, blogs, SMS, and P2P sharing networks. 52% of bloggers say that they blog mostly for themselves. These kinds of mediums allow for a larger diversity of information that are of “largely autonomous origin.” This begs the question of credibility and reliability that we have been discussing in class. If people are purportedly writing blogs for themselves, than can we believe what they are saying? Should we even bother reading if it is mostly for themselves? Even those who write for an audience, there is an increasingly problematic dimension that the social media technologies have bring. Plurality and diversity of sources and information are very often seen as a positive, good thing because they afford consumers a greater amount of choice. However, there is also those who think it simply too much. We are inundated by information via the internet. Slander, false information, gimmicks included. Celebrities, for example, have been sued over what they report on twitter. Courtney Love said something negative about a brand and they are suing her. Not only that, but there are hackers who have gotten ahold of Demi Moore's account and posted some rather strange tweets. I'm not sure how to control hackers or check the majority of news posts for legitimacy, but this an important aspect that has recently been taken into consideration.

Castells contends that there is a “new media reality whose contours and effects will ultimately be decided through a series of political and business power struggles.” This made me think of an article I read yesterday about the White House and Fox. The media, as we have discussed and as Castells writes about, has the power to change people's minds and affect the decisions they make. The White House and Fox News are now in a battle. The NY Times article notes that the fight for 'truth' is not easy. The White House can't have a 'truth-o-meter' or a 'reality check.' So, the author of the article says that perhaps it is time to restore some imperiousness to the relationship. I don't think this is the best idea, but I'm not sure what either party can do.

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