Viewsdesk - chasing the global public sphere

December 2006

Uncategorized08:22, December 5, 2006

Word from Iran has it that parts of Wikipedia are censored for access from within the country. The English language version of the user-edited encyclopedia was blocked for a few weeks but was recently re-opened, my sources tell me. The Kurdish version is still blocked however, and can not be accessed at all from within Iran.

Iran?s Kurdish minority is a constant worry for the Iranian central regime, when some of the people have refused to assimilate into the mainstream of national life and does, along with their fellow Kurds in adjacent regions of Iraq and Turkey, seek either regional autonomy or the outright establishment of an independent Kurdish state in the region.

It appears not only the Chinese are afraid of the power of wikis, although their movements are more closely monitored by the NGOs, the international press and the blogging digerati.

Censorship14:02, December 4, 2006

In this short essay I summarize a not-so-positive view on ICT diffusion and the impact it might have on developing countries in non-western contexts. I also, briefly, discuss the situation in the Middle East.

The American president Ronald Reagan was, in the years following his presidency, convinced that the spread of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) were going to help bring down the Soviet Union, and prophesied “the Goliath of the totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip” (Kalathil and Boas 2003). Optimists take for granted that the introduction of communication technology leads to increased exchange of ideas and that mediation itself is constructive (Bohman 2004:47).

While the information revolution rapidly unfolds, governments around the world are affected by the profound changes that come with it. The advancement of technologies in general and of ICTs in particular, has been discussed in political circles for decades as a means to change the outset for political evolution. Often, a very optimistic view is heard from world-leaders and journalists, who believe that the internet will lead to salvation for the democracy-starved third world. Others mean that this view is simplistic, too positive and that there is no empirical evidence to support the claims.