Resistance to broadcast media - self-publishing - self surveillance
Theorists such as Howard Rhiengold and Umberto Eco signal the danger for democracy if the Web is controlled by corporate media. Rheingold posits that emerging forms of self-publishing on the net offer a challenge to the traditional broadcast paradigm: “What’s important is not how you put…words together in a machine, what’s important is what a population does with it. When you collect computers and telecommunications together, you created a global many to many medium that unlocks the access to other people’s minds. You no longer have to be a television network or own a newspaper, take a little computer bulletin board system and publish a manifesto or an eyewitness report…I believe that is as fundamental a power as the printing press was. And I think ultimately if you believe in democracy, it’s a very important step forward.” (Rheingold quoted in Scott, 1998).
Throughout the previous sections of this article I have tried to highlight the freedom for discourse that 24 hour/7 day Webcam sites represent for women and I have aligned some of these aspects to the need for decentralized control over the internet that Net theorists such as Rheingold, Eco et al. have presented throughout their writings.
One of the strong points and seductions of the medium is the possibility for people to produce and control the dissemination of their own narratives online:
“Most Web diarists say that they want to get at something real, however humble, as opposed to the fabricated images of reality provided by mass media….some even suggest that the diaries represent a mass revelation of the truth that may lead the world, New Age-style, to a higher plane of consciousness…” (Green, 1998).
As OrpheliaZ the founder of ‘Open Pages’ states: “With every byte of ‘dear diary’ that’s put online, however mundane or extreme, the more complete and accessible the essence of mankind.” (Green, 1998).
Dawn Marie (Fabulous Fishbowl) commented on the freedom inherant in the medium of personal Webcam sites: “For me its the ability to be heard and seen by the audience and to get feedback and approval…for the visitors it’s just a way to get involved in someone’s life without having to open up your own life to them.”
Monty T. Full was also captivated with the empowering aspects of Webcams as a means for discourse: “The cam satiates my need for personal expression and I have a great deal of control over that expression…”
“Since ezines like ‘zines and the majority of other sites on the Web (Webcams) are directly produced by their creators, without intervention from editors, publishers or even collective editorial boards, and are not governed by any rules on content, they are generally driven by their creator’s sense of identity or interests, and are often highly autobiographical. Because of this self-production, ezines provide a forum for their creators to express themselves freely with little mediation between creator and publisher. The perceived immediacy of the electronic medium (plus our ability to interact with it on the microlevel through, for instance, sending email to creators) augments the illusion of direct contact between creator and reader.” (Scott, 1998).
Yet various critics have named this belief in the democratic nature of access that the Online world is touted to offer, as Utopian and have posited that access is at this point in history a largely mythological concept for the majority of the worlds population. As Senft states in “Performing the Digital Body - A Ghost Story”: “two thirds of the world’s population have yet to make a telephone call, never mind have access to the internet.” Utopian theories of the democratized vision of access that the internet has come to symbolize have also been criticized by feminists who posit that it is a white middle-class representation of women that is the dominant representation of women Online (Blair,1999).
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