Re: Internet freedom [cr-95/8/25]


Sender: •••@••.•••

LECLERC YVES <•••@••.•••> wrote on 9/2/95:

>news editors ... are basically moved by three factors, none
>of which is acceptable as a basis for fair information of the public:
>a) Personal likes, dislikes and beliefs.
>b) Advertising and commercial considerations.
>c) Sensationalism.

     Probably even more important than these is:
d) assumptions about what is considered to be "news"
e) assumptions about what can people be expected to read

     Much deeper and more important in most media selection than the overt
use of power and influence -- and even the craven anticipation of power and
influence-- are the common, generally-accepted definitions of what kinds of
things are real, what kinds of information is palatable for a particular
public, and what in fact constitutes "information." These "boundary
conditions" are usually tacit, unacknowledged, or taken for granted. It is
true that they are strongly affected by the uses of power, including the
direction of those uses; they serve the apparent interests of existing power
and authority. However, they are deeper than that. They constrain and limit
the powerful in some of the same ways they constrain and limit the powerless.
(For example, to see "the environment" as a usable, manipulable, or
able-to-be protected, _object_ tends to prevent us from experiencing
ourselves as [part of] "the environment," or the environment as ourselves.
This is an impoverishment of the experience of the powerful as much as of the
powerless, and is equally damaging to the lives and the posterity of both.)

     "The news" --and most of a society's culture-- is bent on keeping things
as they are. (Except, of course, for the hairy edge of culture, where the
artist/shamans dance in the fields of chaos, breaking themselves on the task
of bringing home new, more adaptive, order.)

>All of this pleads not for a government hands-off policy, but on the
>contrary for judicious and publicly-controlled government intervention.

    (snip --snip--snip)

>So it *is* disquieting that these people want to control the
>net, for their purpose would obviously be to preserve their grasp on
>public power.
>But using this as an argument against public control is misleading: it
>leaves the field open for far more pernicious private, profit-motivated
>control and censorship.

    (snip --snip--snip)

>What you have to look for are institutions that keep the politicians at
>bay, while allowing reasonable and open public control (and protection)
>over the new media. Independent State corporations, quasi-judiciary
>bodies, and joint (government-industry-public) supervisory boards are
>three distinct possibilities which can be explored.
>I admit that in theory, total freedom of expression over the digital
>channel is very attractive. But it clearly must create a power vacuum
>which would rapidly be filled by people or organizations whose
>intentions are at least as far removed from the ideal of free speech as
>are those of politicians. Limited well-designed public control is far
>preferable to this.

     Quite so! An open field must be protected and nurtured if it is to stay
open. The public must protect what is public.


| Gerald M. Swatez, Ph.D.  /  | Athena University  (VOU)   |
|                         /   |      |
|                        /    | Campus: 8888    |
| •••@••.•••         /     | •••@••.•••          |
________________________      ______________________________

 Posted by --  Andrew Oram  --  •••@••.••• --  Cambridge, Mass., USA
                 Moderator:  CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)

    World Wide Web:

You are encouraged to forward and cross-post messages and online materials,
pursuant to any contained copyright & redistribution restrictions.