Splinternet: The Opposite of Superconnected
Posted by lizmathews01
Mary Chayko (2018), in Chapter 5 of Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life, comments on globalization in technology use and network-building. She then defines the term “digital divide” to describe disparity among different groups using and accessing technology, and brings up the link between internet access and a country’s national income. Her discussion also highlights the relative success of many European countries, Singapore, the U.S., and Japan as competitive in the field of information technology. The chapter is titled “Global Impacts and Inequalities,” which asks us to consider the worldwide consequences of digital access issues and Internet governance.
America’s contribution to a global economy throughout history has often been de-emphasized by political administrations or citizens adopting attitudes of nationalism. Whether it was to grow the national economy or an attempt to build consumer trust in only American-made products, these actions greatly affected how the invention of the Internet and digital technologies would spread.
In 1933, the Buy American Act first solidified a focus on nationalism. As a result, some consumers stick to American cars and feel pride seeing Made in the USA on any product, big or small. As a nation, we create strategy to increase access and technology for Americans at home first, and as a second thought establish relationships with developing countries to increase their access. The attitude seen in many elements of American culture promotes access and economic benefit for Americans, but does not address issues of global digital access or commerce.
Besides national income and nationalist attitudes, an additional concern is raised in a 2019 Wall Street Journal article: The Rising Threat of Digital Nationalism. While select countries already dismantled the concept of a free world wide web by regulating their citizen’s content, this article describes the possibility of multiple, fragmented networks and closed “online borders.” Looking from the perspective of weaker countries, who do not yet have technological advantages, this situation could put them in a vulnerable position. If they were looking to become more competitive, they would need to choose which strong network of countries to join, which sounds way too close to a set-up for a world war. The full article is linked below: is this threat as worrisome as it sounds?
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