Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Burma in the Second Media Age

As Mark Poster points out, technologies of the second media differentiate themselves from the first media age. Whereas the first media age was defined as having few producers disseminating to a large number of consumers, the second media age is defined as having multiple producers and consumers. The obvious example of the second media age in practice, with multiple producers and consumers, is the Internet. I mention this because of the recent events in Burma and the important role of media technology.

One of the crucial struggles, apart from the protests, is the dissemination of information, pictures, and videos. It is through these that the people of Burma can hope to provide 'real time' coverage of what is occurring. While it is estimated that under 1% of Burma's population have access to the Internet, which is also censored, the cyber-bloggers of Burma have been able to exploit loopholes. The BBC website has an article on this practice here.
However, the Burma Junta have realised that the flow of information reaching the outside world is going to be a problem, and I recently heard they are closing down Internet cafes. The other problem, as Mark Poster discusses in his recent book, is that the Internet is not immaterial, and a lot of material technology is required for access to the WWW (phonelines, mobiles, PCs...).
It was even report on the 18th September that the Junta cut off mobile phone service to foreign reporters, which can be read here.

At present, I don't have much to say, but only wanted to bring attention to the significance of the medium in Burma, which I will certainly be paying attention to find how it plays out.

4 comments:

CresceNet said...
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Ortho said...

Both Poster's Information Please and The Second Media Age are pretty insightful. His Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings is a great intro to Baudrillard, who, I'm surprised did not make the cut for your poll. But, that's beside the point.

Anyway, techno-cyber communication--email, cell phones, internet, blogs--, an infrastructure of planetary capitalism, plays a major role in networking multitudes (in a Hardt and Negri sense), not unifying, but connecting multitudes. The postmodern planetary age shall be marked with revolutions and rebellions that begin in techno-cyber space (networking, collaborating, and organizating) occur in geospace (rallies, violence, protests, swarms), and remain alive in tehno-cyber space (communicating and disseminating open-source information). This pattern is currently widespread, for instance the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the Zapatista movement, environmental activists in India, dissidents in China, and now Burmese bloggers.

For the above revolutionary and networking potentialities, I greet the "$100 laptop" with great enthusiasm.

Mark202 said...

thanks for the link ortho. Hopefully the $100 laptops goes some way to bridging the digital divide in the world.
I've been re-reading McLuhan's Understanding Media, who seems to be one of the great untimely thinkers of the 20th Century. His ideas on electronic media may have seemed absurd in the 1960s, but I feel history has shown them to be quite sane (even reserved). In thinking about the multitude of producers/consumers on the WWW the tribal features of electronic communications fully emerge.

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