Report on the Future of the Internet

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project conducted a survey among 895 technology stakeholders and critics on the future of the internet. Follow the link to find the report. Here is one of the interesting findings:

Google won’t make us stupid: 76% of these experts agreed with the statement, “By 2020, people’s use of the Internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information they become smarter and make better choices. Nicholas Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid.”

The report represents the experts forecasts for the year 2020 on anonymity, knowledge, information and various other issues concerning the internet.

Report on Next Generation Connectivity

The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University has published its final report on “Next Generation Connectivity – A review of broadband Internet transitions and policy from around the world“. Follow the link to find the report in pdf-files. Read here the report description:

On July 14, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University would conduct an independent expert review of existing literature and studies about broadband deployment and usage throughout the world and that this project would help inform the FCC’s efforts in developing the National Broadband Plan. The Berkman Center’s Final Report was submitted to the FCC on February 16, 2010.” (Berkman Center 2010)

Judicial, economical, technological and sociological aspects are focused and examined. You can also watch an interview with Prof. Yochai Benkler, director of the Berkam Center, at JohotheBlog.

FCC Workshop on Innovation, Investment, and the Open Internet

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) organized on the 13th of  February a workshop on the topic “Innovation, Investment and the Open Internet”. The organizers put the focus on technological, economical and judicial aspects of the internet, especially on investment and job creation. The issues were approached from different perspectives, such as innovators and entrepreneurs, investors, network operators, equipment vendors, and experts in Internet innovation and investment.

You can find various pdfs concerning the topic and its subitems here on openinternet.gov .

There is also a three-hour-long video on youtube, watch it here:

It gives some interesting insights to what extent the world wide web transforms economical interrelations and work environments.

Open Government UK

At end of January UK´s government opened its data base for the public. “Unlocking innovation” is the projects headline, which stands for approaching a more transparent government. Find the official website here. People can now access freely  information and data of administrative and governmental institutions – and observers from outside the UK are glancing jealously across the channel. Especially some “net-democrats” see a lot of potential in the free access of this data, for instance:

  • Governmental actions could become transparent and “open”,
  • Administration could become interactive, more efficient and adjusted to the needs of the citizens,
  • The project can provide complete primary sources
  • Information / data is easy accessible for a broad audience

The UK is in Europe one of the first countries providing such an open access to its data base(s).

What do you think about this development? Could you define a concrete merit for you personally?

17 Rules for Mobile Social Networks

The European Network and Information Security Agency (Enisa) recently published a report on mobile social media. The paper includes an examination of the chances and dangers of mobile social networking as well as recommendations for a safer use of this technology. It focuses for instance identity-stealing, loss of sensible data, and risks for reputation. To avoid these dangers the authors of the report provide 17 “golden” rules: some are just “common sense” others mere commonplaces.

Find the press release here.

Find the full report here.

Reflections on Cyber-Culture and Information Societies

The documentary we watched last Wednesday gave an broad overview of the debate on cyber-culture and information societies. Different academic discourses problematized the impact of new information technology on society and culture, respectively: cybernetics, cultural studies and philosophy. During the film and the following discussion some interesting aspects of the issue were highlighted. I want to focus two, from my point of view, more important points mentioned last week: the problem of determinism and the evaluation of trends towards an so-called information society and cyber culture.

The statements of the “cybernetic fraction” made it clear: Those, who are involved in the process of creating new forms of media, technological devices etc., seem to see in technological progress the determining variable in social and cultural development. However, this techno-determinism has been criticized as a rather unreflective perspective: It is highly debatable if technology alone shapes our social and cultural environment. This sort of mono-causality simplifies far more complex correlations. The step towards a kind of cultural determinism should thereby be avoided, too. It seems to be more appropriate to speak of a complex interaction of several factors in society, culture and science, influencing each other. There is no teleological development and it is impossible to predict the future course of mankind – especially not by focusing on a single aspect exclusively. Sir Karl Raimund Popper demonstrated this in his book  The Poverty of Historicism over 50 years ago.

As long as the technological infrastructure is based on limited resources, we cannot speak of one information society in general – access is restricted and the term is applicable only to developed capitalistic(-democratic) states. However, some of us are constantly surrounded by technology and information products. Thus living in a kind of information society is for certain parts of world`s population a simple fact – if this is “good” or “bad” should not be the question. It is more important to accept the changes in everyday life,  to face the challenges and to find orientation. The individual decides for which purposes he or she uses the possibilities of new media. A key term is here, I think, “media competence (or capacity)”. This means: learning to understand the possibilities, limits, merits and demerits of new communication and information technologies; to be able to evaluate and use new media effectively and to avoid possible dangers concerning privacy / sensible data.  The right education might provide an appropriate preparation, before one enters the ever-flowing data stream of the internet.

Concerning “Cyborgs”: Actually, we are all to a certain extent connected with machines – this discourse for instance is constituted by the usage of computers to express our thoughts and exchange opinions. We connect, chat, discuss, fight, praise, shop, date and play online. Some have a one or more online identities. Others even live their sexuality in cyberspace. Our eyes, ears, (mouths) and minds are extended by computers and the internet. Effects of cyber identities on the “real-life”-existence have appeared already – and some of them are rather negative: 70% of U.S. human-ressources officers admitted, that they have rejected job applications due to inappropriate info material they have found on social networking sites (Time Magazine) . One can find plenty of examples in the web:

Girl Sacked Afte Boss Sees Ranting Facebook Status Update (The London Paper 14/08/09)

Worker Sacked over Facebook Comments on ‘Boring’ Job (Personnel Today 27/02/09)

FACEBOOK FIRED: 8% of US Companies Have Sacked Social Media Miscreants (Mashabel The Social Media Guide)

Therefore, actions of a digital effigy can cause consequences in “real life”.

Another important question deals with the aspect of hegemony: Who has the power in the world wide web? Who controls access? Which sources are independent? Where are hidden agendas? How “free” is information really? Who evaluates and defines the reliability, i.e. the worth of information? What shapes the virtual reality? People seem sometimes to forget, that the first page showing hits on google reveals only a very small part of the vast spaces we call the internet.

New Report on Social Media and Young Adults

The US Pew Internet Project has published a report on social media usage by young adults – read here the overview:

“Two Pew Internet Project surveys of teens and adults reveal a decline in blogging among teens and young adults and a modest rise among adults 30 and older. Even as blogging declines among those under 30, wireless connectivity continues to rise in this age group, as does social network use. Teens ages 12-17 do not use Twitter in large numbers, though high school-aged girls show the greatest enthusiasm for the application.”

You can download the whole report as a pdf-file.

What People Think about New Technologies

PBS.org, a website focusing developments of the contemporary “digital age”, collected the personal experiences of various people with new technologies – in form of short Videoclips. Among the interviewees are prominent individuals like Patrick Stewart (talking for instance about Twitter and Video Games). The clips give interesting insights in the evaluation and usage of media technology by consumers in everday life. Find them here:

digital_nation

Every individual highlights another aspect he or she uses communication- and computer-technology for. Furthermore, all of them have different social backgrounds.