Man forever delves in his obsession of creating ‘bridges’ to interact and communicate for selfish needs. The latest milestone he successfully invented is fondly termed New Media. This mainly comprised of the hailed Internet, Cellular Phone, Video Conferencing, Satellite TV, Satellite Radio and other awe worthy communication technology. The quintessential difference between Traditional Mass Media and New Media is the question of content control. Speaking of tradition, the lay man had been used to only receiving information disseminated by mass media and its gatekeepers. Yes, he was skeptical and made his own opinions irrespective of media bombardment but he lacked a voice.
New Media is just that. It’s his voice. It’s a gargantuan platform for him to scream as loud as he can. The sheer beauty of being able to put one’s opinions, thoughts, beliefs and view out there for the world to see made New Media an instant hit. Virtual Diaries called Blogs to rant away, single line blabs called microblogs, forum and communities to meet global netizens of the same wavelength, instant message and reply facilities on the go…what more could one ask for. It’s safe to say, new media takes individual’s right freedom of speech and expression to newer dizzy heights beyond the curb of nations and their chalk drawn boundaries.
It’s a long information superhighway with no stop signs, no signals or anyone to stop you. Is that necessarily good? Do anti-social elements allow for a clean positive use of such a phenomenon? Will control crazy governments of the world allow for such ruthless freedom?
The freedom of this revolutionary technology reaches far and wide even into the hands of anti-social elements. Rouges, terrorists (the trendy tag), scamsters et al ruthlessly use new media to concretise their plans. The 26/11 terrorists used satellite telecommunication to communicate with each other while taking Mumbai hostage. Religious extremists and propagandist continue to use the internet to for disseminating hateful and instigating messages.
Governments such as in China and Pakistan have imposed severe restrictions on their citizens over the internet. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in Feb 2008 ordered the banning of Pakistani access to the popular video hosting site YouTube.com though access was eventually restored. In 2010, Britain passed a strict cyber law against piracy and websites hosting peer-to-peer sharing as well. Currently concerns regarding a growing tendency of governments around the world attempting to selectively restrict access to the user-generated new media content are on the rise. Censorship is catching on in many countries and pressure for websites and service providers to practise self censoring is soaring.
But man has always found a way around obstacles. Owing to the ban on political blogs in China, campaigns like Adopt a Chinese Blogger cropped up where a non-Chinese would get in touch with a blogging enthusiast Chinese by mutual consent, thus allowing the Chinese blogger to write via a mediator non-China IP.
This is merely one of thousands of examples depicting how no mountain is high enough to gag man and his innate need to communicate. New media has effectively given power back to the people.