ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Internet : Belling the Cat

Belling the Cat The fact that the growing facility to communicate at speed offered by the Internet can only be effective if accompanied by a measure of self-regulation has been brought home quite firmly in recent months. The effective exchange of ideas, views, opinions and information is possible only if there is a wide range of users, but this in turn means that the medium should provide for secure exchanges which respect the usual norms of conduct with regard to privacy and human dignity. The Internet with its ease of use and wide reach makes it possible for large

The fact that the growing facility to communicate at speed offered by the Internet can only be effective if accompanied by a measure of self-regulation has been brought home quite firmly in recent months. The effective exchange of ideas, views, opinions and information is possible only if there is a wide range of users, but this in turn means that the medium should provide for secure exchanges which respect the usual norms of conduct with regard to privacy and human dignity. The Internet with its ease of use and wide reach makes it possible for large 'bytes' of information to be put within reach of large populations in a very short time. In consequence there is emerging a need for what is termed 'content' which, because web designers assume viewers' need is for quick and easily digestible bits, often gets poorly edited and distorted. At another level, a lot of this information/opinion, because it is in formats such as 'chats', discussion, bulletin board, etc, is largely unedited and either indifferently monitored or deliberately fashioned to titillate in order to gain a regular viewership. While the issue of censorship has prompted discussion across countries, only recently has there emerged concern about a code of conduct for web-based journalism.

A recent incident involving a website designed for school children with a core content of information on Delhi's public schools illustrates this issue well. The site provides information about schools and reportedly has a bulletin board section for school gossip that seeks to encourage 'juicy' exchange by awarding prizes. One of the schools and several students affected have made public their complaint about the site for encroaching on their privacy. Also under criticism is the language used in these chat sessions. And interestingly enough, there are those, including content editors and psychologists, who are defending the availability of a medium where people can let their hair down without having to own up responsibility. In other words, you can be angry and express it in whatever words you care to without loosing your image of, say, a self-possessed and urbane executive/teacher/student/mother/wife/doctor, etc.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top