Cold War policies and Web 2.0…

April 22, 2007 at 2:40 pm 2 comments

An interesting, if not somewhat scary, article in the NY Times got me wondering…”has the horse already left the barn?”

The topic of virtual communities, web search and globalization is nothing new in the world of “cleansed conversations.”  It seems there’s a big story every few months on a new controversy in China about the “right balance” between information globalization and political/cultural policy.  And certainly, many global citizens (most of whom have NEVER been to China) have a wealth of expert opinions on the matter.  This is certainly not an area I claim to be an expert on, so here are few references I thought informative if you are interested:

Open Internet Policy – Danny Weitzner

Internet Censorship in Mainland China – Wikipedia

Now, I’m not going to write today on the issue of openness vs censorship – I guess anyone who reads my blog knows that I assume openness and transparency as inevitable and that it is often catalyzed by attempts to achieve the opposite.  What struck me today were the differences in what I saw in this NY Times article:  50% Good News is the Bad News in Russian Radio.

A scary excerpt:

MOSCOW, April 21 — At their first meeting with journalists since taking over Russia’s largest independent radio news network, the managers had startling news of their own: from now on, they said, at least 50 percent of the reports about Russia must be “positive.”

In addition, opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy, journalists employed by the network, Russian News Service, say they were told by the new managers, who are allies of the Kremlin.

Now, for a minute at least, let’s set aside the scary geopolitical issues here.  How is this different from the “Great Firewall of China?” 

  1. It defines “positive” in some way which is very subjective – this is just plain odd.

    “When in doubt about the positive or negative quality of a development, the editor said, “we should ask the new leadership.”

  2. The US to be portrayed as an enemy – yikes!  this is proactively creating news with a specific goal in mind!  Worse than censorship  –  by design vs. error of omission oriented.
  3. Different starting points – China (at least it seems) is on a path to incrementally, albeit slowly, becoming more and more open.  For Russia, this is a reversal from a decade or more of growing openness. 

It’s this last point that jumped out for me and had me wondering if the “horse had already left the barn.”  In today’s web 2.0-ified world is it possible to go backwards?  I wish I read Russian so I could follow some Russian blogs on this…perhaps someone can help spur this conversation forward to share some local perspective.  I did come across the following on Russian blogger’s that offers both some clues to the opposition to closure and some troubling insights into the influence of good old fashioned bribery.  It seems impossible that in today’s world of the citizen journalist that cold war style media policies can have the same influence, particularly in a society that has already tasted openness.  Here’s wishing I could watch (and understand) the Russian equivalent to John Stewart on the way to the December 2007 Parliamentary elections and March 2008 Presidential elections. 

This truly will be an interesting test of the participative web phenomenon.  To bad we can’t test in ways that might be less hazardous to the worlds health.

Note:  Here are two Russian blogs I know nothing about but that I’ll be looking in on from time to time to see if this is discussed…if you know of others, please share here!

http://www.veryrussian.net/category/popular

http://www.zhezhe.us/

Не пропадай! (keep in touch)

Sean

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Microsoft Live Spaces updated… links for 2007-04-23

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