Globalization and the information society

Dr. Naif Alhadari

The world has become a global village, as Marshall McLuhan said, and this has imposed major challenges on the use of new means and methods of communication, that are able to overcome the limitations and constraints imposed on freedom of opinion and thought. The technological revolution has given a new challenge to intellectuals and opinion makers in how to publish their ideas through the use of modern technologies, especially the Internet, to disseminate their ideas to different parts of the world and to reach the greatest number of readers in different communities. 


One of the most prominent features of the twentieth century was the proliferation of media; its diversity; its ability to transfer information immediately and rapidly; its profound effects on the recipients and its ability to cross borders and states. Therefore, new media works to cross barriers and borders because it possesses the ability to reach audiences wherever they are. This media is characterized by a multiplicity of forms and content types, and this provides an opportunity for the recipient to choose a specific type of subject or news. 


Globalization took place after the end of the Cold War, and it produced a global system dependant on openness to international media and technology, and the increasing convergence of communication between states. These were the features of the communication revolution which accompanied the international social movement, and are now being used also in new forms of transportation and communication.   

Given recent developments produced by the new “electronic media”, new words and concepts have emerged at the top of the media landscape. For example, blogs, alternative media, interactive media and others; and this shows the impact of modern technology on new media related developments. Media space has become full of diverse and multiple programmes, within an open atmosphere with no restrictions. 


The emergence of the “information society” created a shift from providing information services to the passive recipient of mass media, to active recipients. The former receives the information sent to them from various traditional media forms, without active participation, in terms of selection, preparation or in the methods of dissemination of news. No doubt, the reader in the new millennium wants access to the news in detail, at any time and in any place. Not only that, but he/she also wants it to be free, and this is already provided through Internet news sites. 


Some people use the term "civic journalism" to refer to the broad participation of ordinary people in the communication process via the Internet, particularly within the framework of journalism blogs that raised a lot of controversy around the world, because of the boldness and focus on topics, perhaps not covered by the traditional press.  

Communication technology and modern information in the last two decades helped to accelerate the pace of development of the media and opened up large areas with an unprecedented expansion of the press and access to far-flung places especially in developing countries. It can bring in, the largest possible number of readers, and open the doors of freedom of expression. 


This has become a reality, even though it is going on in a default world (i.e, world of the internet), not a real world. Full control of the content of the Internet on a worldwide basis is impossible. Nowadays, no country is able to live in isolation from the rest of the world, and this is even more so, the case now, with the techniques of communication itself, starting to update “our” ideas. Media has greatly changed due to the technological development created by the advent of the Internet, especially in countries where the state regards itself the only legitimate power that has the right to determine the content of the media to suit its policies. The Internet, in its potential ability to produce open debates on the political scene, has become one of the landmarks of “direct” democracy. 


With the development of communications in the age of information, digital media has emerged to offer scoops, visually and directly on the network. This has made newspapers compete to adopt this technology and apply methods that attract Internet users to their websites. 

Moreover, for the first time in its history, journalism has been able to move across borders, countries and continents without censorship, prohibitions or fees. Electronic journalism, is real time journalism and low-cost, circulated widely through the Internet, while traditional newspapers are still suffering from the same old crises. There is even a global standard for measuring the level of demand for sites, and the frequency of its visitors; most notably the Alexa website, which arranges web sites by number of visitors. Truly, New Media has thus benefited from the advancements witnessed in the era of globalization. 


Moreover, pressure groups use new media to put pressure on governments, through memos or flyers they send to politicians, in order to convince them of their points of view. Here it is evident that this impact of new media, on public opinion, has helped lobbyists to influence governments. Also, there is an important role for this new media in the lives of youth in particular. 


More specifically, it is in intellectual, political and youth issues, where new media has enabled young people to participate in various activities, including intellectual, political and social. In fact, this new generation, who was born in the era of information technology, may not find enough time even to switch on TV, due to its total engulfment in new media.

Internet satisfies all their desires including listening to music and songs. They no longer go to the library like previous generations to find sources of information or scientific references, the Internet has provided all of that for them, and more. 

Because of this, many workers in media and analysts, believe that the Internet poses a threat to news and traditional media, particularly television news and newspapers. Mark Sandz, director of Marketing in The Guardian, a British newspaper, says poignantly, that print newspapers are facing a real danger from online newspapers and sites that offer classified advertising services. 


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