We Have Al Gore to Thank…

I’ve been a regular net user since 1997, and first discovered the thing in 92, when we were delighted to find we could access the Village Voice sitting in the Semper Floreat offices at UQ. A feature in the Fin magazine on Friday made the point that many of the utopian claims made for the internet’s impact on society, culture and the economy have receded in the new millennium. Interviewed by the Fin, researcher from UQ’s Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, Dr Gerard Goggin, argued that rather than driving social change, the net was in fact accentuating phenomena that had always been around, or were just reflections of late modernity generally. After all, though cyberdating is new, personals and establishing a relationship by correspondence isn’t, zines might be the old blogs, porn was popular in Ancient Rome, and junkmail predates spam… So, if for instance, we can learn about Delta’s shocking dumping by Mark Phillipoussis online with our morning coffee, couldn’t we always have done so with our morning paper, and if MsFits can post piccies of her boobs on her blog, might the same revelation not have been made in certain Melbourne nightspots once upon a time? Does the Internet fundamentally change how we receive and process information, and interact? I’m agnostic on the question, but would be interested to hear from Troppo readers as to their views…

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
This entry was posted in Life, Print media, Society, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
17 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
C.L.
C.L.
2021 years ago

Should have kept that boob reference to the very last Mark. Newspapers didn’t have hyperlinks to take your readers away.

=^O

Evil Pundit
2021 years ago

The Internet is the biggest revolution in communication since the invention of the printing press. It’s only just beginning to change the world — it may yet turn out to be bigger than the invention of writing itself.

Like the printing press, it will be a major contributor to changes in governments and social structures. We’re just starting to see the beginning of these effects now.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Gee, that’s twice in 2 days I’ve agreed with EP. Once on his succinct analysis of the WA election result, and now on his view of the likely impact of the Internet (and the fact that it’s still at a quite early stage).

C.L.
C.L.
2021 years ago

OK I’m back.

The comparisons you make do make me wonder if we indeed over-rate the net as revolutionary force. The informational catallaxy factor is obviously the most notable difference where news is concerned.

Millions of readers can instantaneously junk some notion or political outlook; with the conventional media that was always a slower and iffier prospect. Information – including on matters related to high politics – has undoubtedly been democratised.

On a more personal front, I think the radio star killed by the internet’s video store has been posted correspondence. As more than one person has pointed out, primary research for historians of the future will be a dry affair with no letters to draw on.

And an email will never beat a letter for romance – the stamps, the ink, the effort, the perfume (if you’re lucky). People treasure a billet doux; they delete even the most touching email.

Evil Pundit
2021 years ago

The mind control ray is working!

I’ve been saying this kind of stuff about the Internet since the late eighties. It’s a genuine revolution in communication, and it is profoundly different from what has come before.

And that’s just the lower bound of the likely outcomes. At the upper bounds of speculation, we have things like Vernor Vinge’s Singularity:
http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~phoenix/vinge/vinge-sing.html

Scot Mcphee
Scot Mcphee
2021 years ago

In 1993 or 1994 I wrote an undergraduate paper basically pointing at the parallels between the then internet mystics and utopians and the 1920s radio mystics and utopians. Although this was mainly about the mystics (eg the theosophists, extropians etc) more than the political utopians.

Many new technologies have similar periods of utopianism, I think, usually marked by a similar wing of dystopianism. There are parallels between the reception of early cinema and the way that digital cinema is viewed now (my wife Lisa Bode, was just awarded her PhD from UNSW studying this very topic).

Dianne Webster
Dianne Webster
2021 years ago

mark is hot

Evil Pundit
2021 years ago

I’m sure there were plenty of monks who argued that the printing press wouldn’t change the world any more than the invention of gold inlay.

That’s where the traditionalist academics and “Centres for Critical and Cultural Studies” stand now. They can dimly see a rising wave that will make them as obsolete as the skilled manuscript illuminators of the 12th century, and they can only retreat to a kind of hopeful denial.

David Tiley
2021 years ago

Besides the apposite printing analogy, think of the library. And then remember that the internet has plugged all the world’s modemed computers into a single titanic instantaneously returning library.

Yes it is patchy, full of blind spots, overwhelmed by noise and pullulating with liars. But it is still amaaaaaazing.

The blogosphere is less stable. At the moment we are all hacking away giggling with delighted energy. But a few more years of hits, no money, increasing competition and a slow motion mudsludge of bad sites from self opinionated ego maniacs inspired (horrors!) by the glories of us (even EP) might make this less attractive.

The early adopters have kept going because they got famous. Cut through for the rest of us is a lot harder.

And an archival shutdown by the world’s press proprietors might dent us severely.

Which reminds me, robotwisdom is back. YAY.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2021 years ago

mark
looks like you got yourself an admirer. Is blogging the new human version of the peacock’s tail?
EP – when you’re not talking about ‘men’s rights’, you are extremely coherent and intelligent. keep it up.

sophie
sophie
2021 years ago

As someone who’s used the Internet for years now and whose career has greatly expanded due to it–so much easier to get things published o’s, now, because you can email ms and so on, and also people all over the world can get to hear about you through linking to sites, blogs, etc–I love the whole thing. Research is made easier(tho’ you still have to track down actual books, which are often more reliable)–the research is also constantly updated, obscure things can be looked up instantly; you can have great salons like Troppo going; you can keep in touch with your farflung family very easily. However, I do caution against too much being read into the whole thing, Sure, it greatly revolutionises communication; sure, it increases opportunities, at least for us Internet-literate folks; but it doesn’t change human nature and it doesn’t change the way we ‘fundamentally interact’. There have always been people who commnicate across distance and cultures; there has always been contact between scholars, overseas publication, family letters and so on. And there are drawbacks–the first one that springs to mind being the encouragement of an impatient ‘click-away’ mentality which may heighten divisions rather than not; and too much ‘blink’ decisions–yes I know that’s meant to be good, and being a bit of a ‘blink’ type myself, do a lot of it–but sometimes you need time, time and more time. I think the Internet can be a marvellous repository of knowledge, interaction and sheer fun, but horrid stuff can travel quite as quickly as good, you know!
So for me, it’s excellent, but with caveats. I distrust utopias of any kind. There’s always a bloody snake in the garden.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“mark is hot”

Still no aircon then?

Rex
Rex
2021 years ago

Ah. I predicted all this when Morse said ” …. .. … . -..- -.–“

DrShrink
2021 years ago

Whilst I think the internet will increasingly become a significant tool, I don’t think it will have much impact on the mode of society or the way we interact.

The biggest advantage of the internet is multi-media. Bringing in media we could get elsewhere to one point of access such as the text form we are using now, through to online TV or Voice/video communication

That is, gaining access to material we could already get today. It’s not like the media revolutions of the Printing Press and Television which brought written word and vision into houses for the first time.

The Internet will probably end up as a conglomeration of all current mediums, accessible all at one station. (Something like a screen, speakers & keyboard be it on a desk or mounted to a wall, or carried in your pocket)

The internet doesn’t change what material or mediums we can get, just the ease of getting them.
I’m sure we will increasingly depend on such a source but only because of the speed, not the substance. People will still read books in paper and talk in person. We could be having this very conversation in mail or down at the coffee shop. We have not substantially changed anything by using the net.

Of course internet democracy could play some role, that’s’ far down the line, but would allow significant citizen interaction with Parliamentary bodies.

I think it’s wise to not overplay the internets role. It’s not a new media, just a new way to access such forms.

Evil Pundit
2021 years ago

You’re missing out on one of the most immediately revolutionary charascteristics of the Internet, Doc.

Beyond the importance of combining traditional media forms, it breaks traditional media barriers by allowing anyone to be a publisher. The gatekeepers of collective knowledge and opinion are being bypassed.

The priests and ruling classes lost control of the written word after Gutenberg — and eventually they lost control of religion and political power as well. Today’s media moguls and politicians are now facing a similar shift of power as their stranglehold on public communication is breaking.

Evil Pundit
2021 years ago

Jason, I’m always coherent and intelligent. It’s just that many people have accepted feminist doctrine as truth, and have not yet analysed its failings and developed a more accurate, less sexist view of the world.

Rafe
2021 years ago

The internet is the only hope for independent scholars or just independent freaks who think they have something to say but will not be touched with a stick by any mainstream or even non-mainstream editor or publisher.
Rafe (you will all be sorry one day that you rejected my manuscripts) Champion