University of Hawaii
Information is increasingly disseminated through telecommunication networks. New technologies such as the Internet and cellular telephones can bring information into and out of regions that in the past were largely cut off from the outside world. Thus our telecommunication networks have the potential to democratize information.
However, there are a number of issues that attend these new technologies. For example, the same technologies that facilitate information sharing can be used to block information sharing or to spread disinformation. If access to information is to be equalized, the world must address not only the technical issues but also the issue of financing the information-sharing network. How will people in remote areas or with low incomes be able to access information in the digital environment? In addition, there have been efforts by corporate entities to prioritize Internet traffic based on corporate ability to pay. There have also been numerous news stories about government agencies intercepting and viewing or listening to telcommunications—whether personal conversations, file sharing, or accessing Websites.
This course will examine some of the issues related to information dissemination and access via telecommunication networks. In order to discuss these issues, we will look at the technological infrastructure as well as the political power structures behind the major telecommunication networks. We will look at the roles of entities such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the design and management of global telecommunication networks. We will talk about the potentials and the conundrums these new (and some not so new) technologies pose in a world of unevenly distributed resources and competing ideologies.
Castells, M. 2010. The rise of the network society, 2nd ed.
Cortada, J. W. 2002. Making the information society: experience, consequences, and possibilities.