Politics and Technology of Control: Introduction

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January 25

The Net has great potential for “good” (e.g. innovation, economic growth, education, and access to information), and likewise is a great platform for the bawdy, tawdry and illegal. Is this platform about fundamental social, political and economic change, or about easier access to pornography, cheap pharmaceuticals, free music and poker at home? This question leads us to a host of interesting issues that weave their way through the course related to openness, access, regulatory control, free speech, anonymity, intellectual property rights, democracy, transparency, norms and values, economic and cultural change, and cyber-terrorism, as well as scamsters and thieves.

Preparation (Assignment "Zero")

Part I

To frame the issues we will be talking about in this class and to get the discussion going, we'll start with the recent controversy involving Wikileaks. Take some time to read through the articles below. Come to class prepared to answer the following questions and to pose some questions of your own.

  • What is Wikileaks? Is it a journalism organization? A terrorist organization? A criminal syndicate?
  • Do we need an organization like Wikileaks?
  • What kind of arguments would you make to support your position one way or the other?
  • What was the U.S.'s (and the world's) response to Wikileaks' disclosure of diplomatic cables?
  • What are the legal and/or free speech implications involved in the decision by Amazon to stop hosting the Wikileaks site?
  • What do you think the debate concerning Wikileaks shows about the nature of the Internet?

Part II

  • What are the most significant changes associated with the spread of digital technologies?

In a few sentences, please offer 2-3 examples in the Class Discussion section below or be prepared to offer them during class.


Optional Readings

Videos Watched in Class

Class Discussion

The most significant changes and challenges brought on by digital technologies.

- Your ideas here...

The ways in which these mediums have changed how we relate to each other can certainly be seen to have both positive and negative connotations. In the age of 'instant information" we should question how much is worthy of our attention on first blush, and what is really noise and a waste of time. Those that manage the digital medium as opposed to it managing them are the real winners in the availability of opportunities.

However some of the most positive aspects can be seen in our new ability to see other countries through the lens of information from citizens themselves and this has inspired a higher spirit of collaboration the world over.

The uprising in Iran a couple of years ago, would never have gotten the world attention that it did before the advent of the social mediums that allowed the demonstrations to be viewed by millions. The Haiti earthquake (and many other disasters) and the quickness of the response was helped by the instant donation portals that were set up to facilitate monies where they were most required. Doctors collaborating around the world on cases and learning from those experiences is another example of how we grow our cultures for the good.

A "virtual choir" of 12 different countries bringing singers together showed a true spirit of co-operation among peoples. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs

We have choices in how we use all these mediums and yes there will always be an disturbing and dark aspects to it but looking at all the possibilities we have a world of substantive opportunities. --camcloughlin

The most significant change associated with digital technologies is precisely how pervasive the changes are. These technologies affect the manner and effect of how we conduct ourselves in society: the way we read and learn, are entertained, communicate, interact professionally and personally, and express ourselves. As such much of our existing laws and norms need to be rethought, reinterpreted, and rewritten. This sort of technological change has happened before (i.e. printing press or radio) but never at such a scale and speed.

To focus on these digital technologies specifically, the biggest impacts come from their reach, social nature, and longevity. First, due to being replicable and instantaneous, a person or group using digital technologies can reach a massive audience with their message, around the world, through many channels. Second, given the ability to continuously publish and others to respond, over time a single message can grow into a dialogue which can grow into a living social conversation, and ultimately coordinated action. Third, the ability now exists to have a permanent, discoverable, and recorded conversation. These are all tremendous changes to the way societies function. --Smithbc 13:08, 25 January 2011 (PST)

The evolution of digital technology is much like a hot war. As the Developer or Engineer creates, the digital Guerrilla works to free the technology. The greater the advance of the tools made available to the masses it becomes more and more difficult to protect an idea. One could say that ultimately the ideas are improved by the unconstrained "testing" digital liberator/Hackers subject digital creations to. --Buie 20:34, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Improvements in digital technologies and the pace at which they are happening are making it increasingly more difficult for companies to innovate and compete. Investing in research initiatives are at the forefront while still trying to devote resources to building that next biggest thing that will reach the largest number of users.---dreed07 19:33, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

I believe the biggest changes associated with digital technologies have to do with communication. Everything from the way we interact with each other on a social level to the way that businesses and governments are conducted has been changed with the advancements of digital technology. More time is spent communicating digitally than in person; people are spending more time in online communities than their physical communities. The world is rapidly becoming a smaller place; it’s easier, cheaper, and faster to communicate with people around the world by email, texting, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, ect. You can instantly exchange ideas/knowledge with people and broadcast your opinions. Furthermore, there is more pressure to keep up with the rapidly changing communication technologies (for social or business purposes) for fear of being left behind. FMRR 19:23, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Digital technology not only changes how we get information, but how we relate as individuals, how companies do business and communicate with customers, employees, and investors, and how citizens relate and interact with their governments. Other have commented on privacy and censorship concerns, but the effect on business and the challenges a business faces with this communication and information boom has left many corporations scrambling. If incorrect information is disseminated on the web, a business is not as free as an individual to respond (if it can even do so quickly enough). Outdated government regulation enacted before the digital world was created can work to restrict how a company responds or has dialogue with the misinformed disseminators.

“Today we can influence each other more easily than ever before because our media is digital, it can reach anything that has a screen. And nearly anything with a screen can also be published from — we have a two way media.” [4]

In thinking about the Internet as a medium, I believe the most profound changes derived from the shift to digital media is the introduction of a communication stream that is now (1) highly fragmented, (2) immediate, and (3) conversational in nature.

  1. We’ve evolved from a finite and more easy to regulate roster of tens/hundreds of traditional news media sources, to billions of websites. Today, the average citizen has a public voice, forcing us to challenge our notions of what is considered “journalism.” There are both opportunities (i.e., innovative thought and talent can emerge) and challenges (i.e., inundation, how to regulate, varied levels of credibility, etc.) inherent in this kind of landscape.
  2. Additionally, the pace of media consumption has become extremely rapid. We’ve become a culture that is accustomed to the instant accessibility of information.
  3. Finally, media is now social. The concept of “wiki”-based information sources means that we can interact with the information we consume, and the viral nature of the Internet lends to an ease of content ‘shareability’. Media communication is no longer a one-way stream. -- Jsanfilippo 15:42, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

I think one of the most significant challenges we face moving forward with regard to digital technology is the security. Not just private citizens but governments and corporations around the world are becoming more heavily dependent on it. Consequences of any major digital disaster (i.e. caused by cyber-terrorism or any unexpected failure) could be severe to an unimaginable level as the digital world gets more complex and interdependent within. --Edwardshinp 13:44, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

I agree with Edwardshinp regarding security. It's not just an issue of security of financial data for transactions, but we are looking at national security, corporate espionage, etc. Anything where we're engaging in the sharing of information. ---dreed07 19:33, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

One of the most significant challenges is defining what constitutes privacy of users. Facebook continually redefines the concept of what information is private for its users. As we get more social and increases in attempts by online organizations to bring a more personal experience to the user, this will continue to be a challenge. ---dreed07 03:35, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

As dreed07 said, I think the same. PRIVACY. I would say lack of privacy. (VladimirTrojak 08:29, 1 February 2011 (UTC))

Google has stuck into out lives quite firmly. I mean, than Google predict something better than government entities (CDC) just by running an algorithm and analyzing few searches... On some level that is the best example of how dependent on the Internet we became. I am not saying that's a bad thing, people before me told the same thing about electricity. Times are changing and that is a progress none the less. But shouldn't we be a little more careful, stop for a second and have a look on what we were actually doing for the last 20 years? Can the Internet be our own Frankenstein monster? :) --Jastify 00:28, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

We've talked about how an organization such as Wikileaks scores points for transparency by throwing "grit" in the government machine, but I'm also impressed by what is officially available online. Old classmates and I fondly recall hours spent on state-wide judiciary searches that revealed uppity prep school teachers as felons, perverts and drunks--and sometimes explained mysterious classroom absences. Clickable property records: liens, takings and all, immortalize for peekers embarrassing proof of habitual poor decisions, or just a temporary rough patch. And lest anyone forget that accountability means everybody, constituents can roam the virtual "halls of shame" of de-certified police officers.

As for a challenge presented by digital media, it seems very easy to become absorbed by myriad micro-tasks (i.e. micro-blogging) of dubious value that sap time and productivity. About a year ago, I sat in on a conference at Yale Law. Up in the nosebleed section, I had a decent view of the panelists onstage, as well as about 70 hunched, frenetic Tweeters in between. Having myself never Tweeted nor been Tweeted at, I was puzzled as to what they were so furiously punching into their laptops, pausing only when a pod of genial-looking sperm whales appeared and temporarily halted operations. Months later, I happened upon a slew of the Tweeters' work and was disappointed. Each was responsible for hours and hundreds of blurbs that amounted to little more than scores of parallel transcriptions of the entire day's worth of speakers. Never mind that the conference was streamed live online, archived and outlined in bullet points, nor the fact that many of the Twits were Tweeting at one another. At best, it was an exercise in the sillies; at worst, a mass lapse in auditorium etiquette. --KimberlyNevas 15:55, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

Social networking has opened a new level of communications that no one would have ever dreamed of. I believe it is a tremendous blessing that has and will continue to change our world. It has opened up nations that otherwise would have been totally secluded and shut-in. But this is a new era. An era where nations can now protest and receive support and empathy from other nations. Right now, as we speak we are witnessing history in the making. We are part of a revolution that we have only read about in history textbooks.

Egypt is a prime example that happens to be in the forefront of our minds. We are seeing a nation change and evolve. Whether for good or for worse, we are all witnesses. We are watching a government crumble right before our eyes; and the Internet is playing a monumental role in this!

It is our responsibility to nurture and protect this instrument of progress and change. We have a mechanism that has the ability to shrink the world. We now can convey messages that once were deemed unfathomable and impossible to distribute. Of course, governments want a position of control over such a tool; but like our forefathers we cannot allow that. Just like they defended their freedom of speech, we must defend ours too. It is the same principle with a modern twist. Instead of the printing press, it is now blogs. Instead of town hall meetings, it is now twitter. Like everything thing else in our ever evolving world the press has become faster and more efficient. The media has now modernized and caught up with the times. --Joshuasurillo 04:38, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Please use this space for comments/discussion you would like to share with the rest of the class.

The idea of "Stateless News Organizations" seems to be getting around... In my country though it's a little less sophisticated... --Jastify 15:45, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

Sadly, Rosen’s prediction of the public’s reaction to the release of the Afghanistan War logs was spot on. These logs, in my opinion, did not receive enough attention or create the amount of outrage they deserved. Because they exposed a distasteful problem, an uncomfortable public chose to turn a blind eye. --Jedmonds 20:38, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

The economic impact of the Internet and digital technologies can be significant. Outsourcing job functions to countries outside the United States for instance, was facilitated in part by the ability of the Internet to deliver real time data across the globe. IP telephony, high speed video and data transmitted on the Internet allowed for workers to be “virtual”, anywhere in the world. This created cost savings and efficiencies for corporations while fueling growth in emerging countries. Domestically, this has lead to displaced workers and job losses across many fields. --Earboleda

“Is Wikileaks a journalism organization? A terrorist organization? A criminal syndicate?” IMO Wikileaks is none of the above. What Wikileaks can be described as is one of several recent examples of the ways in which communications technologies are fundamentally changing the nature of life on the planet. It’s part of an incomplete definition that will be building in complexity for some time into the future.

We live in an environment today in which the sum total of human experience virtually floats in the air around us. Need directions, google it. Want to see what it will look like when you turn the corner at the next intersection, click to a 360 degree view. Wish to know what historical figure may have lived in that ancient building by the park, if there isn’t today, sometime in the near future there will be a website, wiki, webcam, historical archive, building plans, public utility schematics, images of deeds, mortgage documents, tax information, holographic immersive experiences …

Piece by piece we are collectively constructing a virtual copy of the world. More than a copy, it contains layers from this moment stretching into the past and other contextual information impossible to obtain a mere few years ago.

I worry when it is said that Assange is not "about letting sunlight into the room so much as about throwing grit in the machine." [5]. With that kind of philosophy it seems the opportunity to cause harm is far greater than that for good.

If on the other hand Wikileaks becomes or spawns places of free and open communications where transparency reigns and people of conviction can become free to disclose information that brings light into what today are dark crevices, we’ll all be better off. If not, we need to worry.

We need also worry about as Brandon Palmen says, “an incomplete and skewed portrayal of fact.” [6] Actions that result from reliance on the incomplete picture will have unintended consequences. This is true whether a skewed view is intentional or as a function of where we are with respect to construction of the new virtual copy of our world.

Do we need an organization like Wikileaks? The truth is that there will soon be many versions of Wikileaks with many different degrees of completeness ranging along a spectrum from purely altruistic to undeniably evil. It will be up to the individual and the establishment to decide on which version of reality we each choose to believe and act upon. --Gclinch 02:53, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

I would contribute to what my classmates have alredy said about “Is Wikileaks a journalism organization? A terrorist organization? A criminal syndicate?”.

I am sure there are number of people who would go for first, second and third option. It depends from which point of view we are looking at wikileaks. Sometimes term whistleblower or some intermediary is enough. I am sure that sometimes it is very questionable and wikileaks might be regarded as a journalist. I am sure that some politicians would also use terms like terrorist or criminal.

Do we need an organization like Wikileaks? I would answer with the question. Shoul we know about wrongdoing, killing, torture, corruption and tax evasion? Should we know what is really going on like in 'Collateral murder video'?

Those are arguments for wikileaks, however to put one argument why we could be afraid sometimes is following: “Everybody will be leaking dirt on everybody,” Rassudov [7] This is what concerns me a bit. (VladimirTrojak 08:29, 1 February 2011 (UTC))

The Wikileaks controversy is one of many examples how much the Internet has changed the entire world. I am sure I will develop more ideas about regulating or not regulating what is out there in the Internet as this class progresses, but in terms of Wikileaks, I am still fundamentally puzzled as to how those confidential information has eventually gotten into the hands of Assange or Wikileaks from the first place. My point is if the government wants to protect certain information, it is the government's own responsibility to do so via strict prevention measures. And I suspect that this fundamentally has nothing to do with the control of the Internet or digital media. You can't just blame and impose everything on Wikileaks because it was simply living up to its whole purpose of establishment--exposing certain types of political information to the public as a new digital medium (in this respect, I don't see any difference among Wikileaks, WSJ or NYT). I definitely do think that some of the information released through Wikileaks were inappropriate and damaging to the national security, which ultimately is not in the best interest of the American people. I support the government's non-disclosure of certain information for national interest and safety. One should not assume that government transparency is always desirable and healthy (as Assange does seem to believe so), even in a democratic society. However, imposing anything on Wikileaks, whether constitutionally legal or illegal (i.e. Lieberman's actions), is just not the right way to handle the "mess." Take out the roots of the problem whatever they are--not Wikileaks. --Edwardshinp 15:32, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

A couple of months post-Wikileaks, and we're already seeing various similar organizations and entities (and even instances of leaking) crop up; while I don't support all of WikiLeaks' leaks necessarily, I do support the overall idea of information leaking; and in the case of, for example, the Palestine Papers (recently leaked to Al Jazeera), think that it can be very effective in demonstrating hypocrisy in governments.

I also take serious issue with the handling of WikiLeaks by American companies Amazon, Mastercard, PayPal, EasyDNS, and Tableau. All acted under potential pressure from Sen. Joe Lieberman, and the vast majority gave "copyright infringement" as their excuse, more or less. If we excuse this behavior in the instance of WikiLeaks, then we're headed down a slippery slope: Do we then excuse similar intermediary censorship when levied against a human rights organization? Jyork 22:23, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

I consider as the major challenge for E-industry the adoption of basic ethical standards/rules to be applicable for and followed by each provider as well as an user. Those rules should go far beyond and should be independent from a governance scope given by a local jurisdiction (something alike Wikipedia core content policies). The element of self-regulation emanated by the industry itself might be (a) an effective interpretation tool for numberless requests imposed for pursue of e-industry in particular jurisdiction (see link), (b) could prevent or diminish negative effects of state regulation or attempts of over-regulation or could help to constructively handle occurrence of case like Wikeleaks. Further, Internet as the major source of information and widely used communication tool has changed significantly quality and content of communication all over the world. This new phenomena already has and will have an overwhelming social and cultural impact on mankind and human interaction.

In my opinion, if we use the standard definition of what constitutes a "media organization" based on U.S. Code Title 2, Section 1602, a person or entity engaged in disseminating information to the general public through a newspaper, magazine, other publication, radio, television, cable television, or other medium of mass communication; then Wikileaks is just that and would be entitled to protections as such. I don't agree with the way Wikileaks is carrying out it's mission on a philosophical level. There are other means that could be used to promote and encourage transparency in government without endangering people's lives. ---dreed07 20:13, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

WikiLeaks is a content provider. They are not terrorists because they do not attempt to destroy or disrupt the Internet. They are simply providing content which some people find objectionable. If we set aside the question of how they obtained the information then the remaining question is whether they have a legal or moral right to disseminate it. WikiLeaks is not based in the U.S. so it is not subject to U.S. laws. They are not publishing credit card or social security numbers. They are not publishing copyrighted or proprietary material. They are editorializing, but that is still the prerogative of a free press. They at least showed some self-restraint by selectively publishing what they felt to be newsworthy and redacted sensitive information that could bring harm to others. They are not in the same league as the New York Times. They are not even writing their own stories. But they are taking an editorial position by selecting which content to provide, which gives them some claim to being a journalism organization. -Chris Sura

Just wanted to add a comment to today’s in-class discussion which did not make it in due to time constraints. The seminar ended on the question of what measures the US government could or should (from a legal and ethical perspective) take in dealing with the leak of classified diplomatic data via Wikileaks. The question was predicated on the (generous) assumption that the leaked material had little to no serious material impact on US security or diplomatic interests. An obvious caveat to that assumption is the fact that only a small number of the diplomatic cables in question have be released thus far, preventing us from knowing the full impact the leaks may have in the future. Perhaps a less obvious caveat is that it is extremely difficult for those of us without diplomatic credentials to tell what sort of damage has been done in terms of the US’s international diplomatic relations, where the effects may be more subtle and less obvious to the public; certainly, there seems to be little evidence of direct damage to the US itself… however, that does not necessarily mean the released materials are without serious impact. A number of pundits, Andrew Sullivan for one example, have ascribed to Wikileaks cables a prominent (though perhaps not a driving) role in the so-called “Jasmine Revolution” in Tunisia which ousted president Ben Ali and toppled his government this January. Obviously these events are of enormous import to Tunisians around the globe, and may have a significant effect on Africa and the Arab world, and thus geo-politics as a whole. While the potential future ramifications for US foreign policy are difficult to calculate, in terms of immediate impact it should be noted the president Ben Ali was considered to be an important US ally in North Africa, and his ousting may have consequences for the US government’s anti-terrorism efforts in that region. (That is not to say that the overall impact will be negative; one hopes that the Jasmine Revolution will work out for the best for both the US government and, perhaps more importantly, the people of Tunisia. The effects, however, remain to be seen.) -BrandonAndrzej

Here are links to the topic being discussed on Andrew Sullivan’s Atlantic blog:



During the discussion that ended the class (26-Jan-11) several argued that officials of the US Government were justified in taking actions against private citizens and organizations in response to Wikileaks. This bothers me to the point of losing sleep. It is outrageous that officials of the US government felt it within their power, without any legal due process, to use the power invested in them by the people to intimidate private organizations into taking steps to deny access to information once it had become readily available. Far beyond “a terminal case of hubris” as described by John Naughton in his article in the Guardian, [8], US senator Joseph Lieberman’s actions to intimidate private organizations including Amazon and Paypal into removing Wikileaks content is an outrageous and possibly illegal abuse of the power given to him when he was elected to represent a small segment of the US population in the national congress.

Regardless of whether his intentions could be viewed by some a noble, we live in a society that is ruled by law. There are processes to be followed. Senator Lieberman availed himself of some of those processes when he filed Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination (SHIELD Act) [9].We should all be incredulous that beyond this Senator Lieberman used his positions in congress to directly contact commercial organizations intimidating them with veiled threats that the US government would use its power against them should they not comply to his personal vision of how they should conduct their private business. There are numerous judicial and administrative options available through legal due process of US Law that Senator Lieberman could have used. The fact that he did not is an outrageous abuse of power.

Senator Lieberman’s actions are just the tip of the iceberg of official reaction that was untoward and possible illegal. The actions of agencies such as the State Department - who are invested by the citizenry with even less official power than a US Senator - in contacting private individuals and intimidating them to not exercise their freedom of expression are even more outrageous. The gentleman in class who said that even his company was contacted and threatened should shout to all of us how far we have traveled down a slippery slope with regards to the fundamental rights upon which US society is based. The fact that there seemed to be acquiescence to these concepts during the class discussion, especially taking place in a building that is just steps away from the Harvard Law School, is of great concern to me.

What is your opinion? --Gclinch 12:53, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

I would like to contribute to the discussion of: Do we need an organisation like Wikileaks?

I agree that the ethos behind Wikileaks of exposing unethical government behaviour is a necessary component in establishing accountability; however, the longer-term implications of Wikileaks are (potentially) opposed to the initial aim. If governments go to extreme lengths to protect information from whistleblowers then this will lead to compartmentalisation of information and a decline in cooperation between agencies. Wikileaks may catalyse the creation of a political culture that is suspicious of information sharing where diplomacy cannot operate effectively.

A question posed on the Guardian’s 'Live Q&A with Julian Assange' by JAnthony aimed to ask Julian Assange whether Wikileaks should be held accountable for hampering diplomatic efforts – went unanswered.

“I am a former British diplomat. In the course of my former duties I helped to coordinate multilateral action against a brutal regime in the Balkans, impose sanctions on a renegade state threatening ethnic cleansing, and negotiate a debt relief programme for an impoverished nation. None of this would have been possible without the security and secrecy of diplomatic correspondence, and the protection of that correspondence from publication under the laws of the UK and many other liberal and democratic states. An embassy which cannot securely offer advice or pass messages back to London is an embassy which cannot operate. Diplomacy cannot operate without discretion and the protection of sources. This applies to the UK and the UN as much as the US. In publishing this massive volume of correspondence, Wikileaks is not highlighting specific cases of wrongdoing but undermining the entire process of diplomacy. If you can publish US cables then you can publish UK telegrams and UN emails.

My question to you is: why should we not hold you personally responsible when next an international crisis goes unresolved because diplomats cannot function. ” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/dec/03/julian-assange-wikileaks Ltconnell 22:19, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Hi you all. Just saw that on the NYT, it might interest you: The New York Times on dealing with Assange and the secrets -- http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/magazine/30Wikileaks-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 lu coelho

In my opinion one of the most significant changes associated with the Internet and digital technologies is the huge content availability and the low cost to get information. This “revolution“ is also redefining: monetary transaction (as we can see through the massive growth of e-commerce websites due to low cost of transaction and low cost of distribution), social relationship (how users are sticky to facebook, twitter, blogs, etc…), communication (high level of interaction through “new”channels such as email, voice over Internet protocol, instant messages, etc…), entertainment (access to a huge library content = long tail. E.g. Netflix, Hulu, Youtube), etc…We are definitely in the beginning of this revolution since the value proposition the internet can add has still much room to grow. Adriana Torii

My feeling is that Wikileaks is an unstable medium for providing an essential watchdog function overseeing government activity. There is a need for some kind of independant body that checks the scope of the governments autonomy, but conceding this responsibility to a rogue, pirate entity does seem to legitimize some of the governments concern over jeopardizing the safety of individuals who should not be sacrificed for the errors of those higher ranking officials overstepping the intended restrictions on their authority and influence. Unfortunately I cannot offer much in the way of a practical solution for balancing off the dangers on either end of the spectrum in the Wikileaks situation. The slope seems to slip down in both directions. Smudge24

Thinking about how the internet has changed our society two things immediately come to mind. First, from the perspective of an average US consumer, I feel that there is undeniable evidence that suggests that the internet has flattened the global marketplace. Goods from all areas of the world are now just an effortless click away. Even our methods of shopping have drastically changed from typical in-store shopping and mail-order catalogs, to instant online price comparisons of the same good between hundreds of online retailers. This continual instant access to nearly any good has shifted our societies towards more hasty and instant desires - in a way, I argue, we have all become more impatient. Things that at one point could have been considered expendable extras are now at the center of entire business models. Second, I have given some thought to the way in which the medical community has been changed with the advent of the internet. Specifically, I find it revolutionary how access to medical information has been simplified to be understood by nearly anyone with a mouse and a keyboard. The ability to pre-diagnose oneself and have instantaneous access to potential medical solutions is something that could prove revolutionary in countries that are in early development stages. Furthermore, learning medical terminology and processes (i.e. similar to med school) is simplified and made much less expensive - allowing a lower boundary to entry into the field. Lewtak 02:11, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

I believe our government has gone after the wrong target. They should be after the source of the leaks. Wikileaks is just an emissary and a conduit of information. The government wants to shoot the messenger while they should be instead hunting for the origin of the message. If they have such a gripe on people exchanging information, they should attempt to find the actually leak and plug it. If the government is successful in stopping Wikileaks, there will be another messenger in its wake eagerly conveying information from a leak. Until the original leak has been extinguished, the government will continue to have it's information published and made public.--Joshuasurillo 04:44, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

• The internet has created a virtual world for people, a global village, as coined by Marshall McLuhan. Where sharing of thoughts and ideas take place at a completely new level. Where your audience is not specified or fixed. Freedom to put your ideas out there and the freedom to express your opinion or give your take on the thoughts put down by others, without having to disclose your identity, is something only the internet gives you. The internet allows the ideas and thoughts put forward by people to be judged not by their physical appearance or their accomplishments but in a much unbiased, to-the-point way. It is also one of the fastest, cheapest and most widespread means of communication. This is the age of freedom of communication, everyone is entitled to their individual thoughts and opinions, and the internet is their diary, although not that personal. • Businesses are run using technologies such as electronic mails and video-conferencing, which are continuously outdoing themselves and introducing better features. It is a platform for people to express themselves freely and that freedom will be curbed once the government decides to get involved. Just like every school, home or playground has a big bully, the government is a big bully in a country. Everyone thinks not just twice but a million times before taking up an issue against the government. In my opinion, wiki leaks has endeavored to take up something that no other form of media would have the guts to publish, and not just put the information out there but also follow through with it. If the American government has nothing to hide then why react defensively. If they had not made a big issue out of these releases people would have most probably forgotten about it in time. Their reaction itself has generated interest in the public. Karishma goenka 11:18, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

In my opinion the most significant changes brought on by digital technologies are: - The possibility of transferring data through different medias. - These technologies allow people to communicate at low cost (Skype, for example). - The streaming video, which is changing the way people watch TV and movies. - The videoconference, which has also been used within the Court System. - The possibility of buying online 24 hours a day. - Product customization (as an example, Dell allows that the client choose on line its own computer configuration). - Immediate download of books, articles, music and films. Regarding the challenges, I would say that piracy and unauthorized copies of ideas are problems caused by the information dissemination in the internet. Another challenge would be the fact that the digitalization of content brought a radical change in the business model. See the discussion about Apple enforcing rules on e-book publishers and also the changing occurring in the cable TV segment, due to the streaming video. (Anna 21:24, 6 February 2011 (UTC))

As many people pointed out above, the appearance & spread of digital technologies has affected our society in unexpected yet profound ways - from science itself to business to everyone's daily life. The trend of changes can be generally illustrated as "being closer, easier, and faster." In terms of challenges posed by these whizzy technologies, I would like to, specifically, talk about infringement of intellectual property rights. Not only is an individual's personal information stolen by a third party and misused - mostly for financial frauds, but also an inherent right to one's idea is in a great danger of being attacked and looted away. In short, what represents ourselves (our birthdates, addresses, and social security numbers) and what we give birth in this world (our thoughts, ideas, and very creation) can be and are lost in amidst of the Internet society. In this situation, I doubt whether there would be any point of insisting freedom of expression, when the expression itself is suffering from casual invasion and robbery.


  • Identity Theft: [10]
  • Copyright Issue: [11]

--Yu Ri 14:58, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Some people mentioned organizations and the workplace and the security concerns that follow with the increase of digital technologies. I think about the actual change in culture as well, between what's "acceptable" and "unacceptable." Most people have worked and will work at some point, and now there are avenues that are more accommodating, e.g. conference calling, telecommuting, VPN accounts, to those not physically present in the office. Even if workers have all the avenues in the world to "work" regardless of where they physically are, can it be considered "work," particularly if one's action while working away from the office creates distrust and paranoia ? In organizations where something such as telecommuting is not the norm, managers are faced with justifying to their employees why it is acceptable for some and not others to have this option. On a related note, as organizations engage in social media activity to promote their brand and organization, they are also promoting the social media brand and, perhaps inadvertently, that this is an acceptable vehicle for workplace communication.Myra 19:21, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Other Useful Links

Here is a link to the BBC World Service documentary Wikipedia at 10 - a 22.5 minute retrospective on the occasion of Wikipedia’s 10th anniversary. It covers a number of topics, some of which may be relevant to the upcoming Wikipedia editing assignment.