Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Internet, blogging and public sphere

What is the aesthetic to the current influx of blogging culture? In his book 'The Blogging Revolution', Anthony Loewenstein (2008) talks about the internet censorship in countries like Cuba, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt. According to Loewenstein, the use of internet and blogging is giving people a voice in freedom of speech in these oppressive countries. As mentioned by Habermas (1991), public sphere is an idea whereby everyone gets to be involved in an open, civil discussion. Internet is believed to hold the key for the realization of this theory as there is a free flow of information and blogging allows individuals to express their opinions. That is why China controls the access of Internet very strictly to such length that they collaborate with international search engines like Google and Yahoo.

A website with a notice of the nation's server shut down on the eve of Tiananmen Square protest's anniversary (Image source:

Blogging can be seen as a medium for freedom of speech and affecting the nation's development at the same time as well. McNair (2000) points out that political and social agendas are much more easily acessible and more detailed in its coverage through this medium of public sphere. In the Malaysian contex, this idea can be seen in the change of the citizen's voting style during the 2008's General Election; whereby the government parties was not given their usual landslide wins and lost a couple of state seats to the oppositions. Political blogs and local Internet news portals were attributed for creating the change. Mainstream media is heavily controlled by the government and tends to be loop-sided in its reports; therefore, people that are literate and has Internet connectivity are turning to Internet sources.

However, without any censorship control and law in the Internet, there is an issue about the credibility of Internet sources. With nobody to edit the content in the Web, there are bound to be cases of harmful, untrue information derailing a person's reputation and cases of identity theft. For example, a person can open an account and started blogging as another person's identity and write stuffs that would get the other person into trouble. As a responsible individual, one should taken into account of what he/she writes and be aware of the consequences.



Habermas, J. 1991, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trans. Burger, T. & Lawrence, F. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US

Loewenstein, A. 2008, The Blogging Revolution, Melbourne University Publishing, Australia

McNair, B. 2000, Journalism and democracy: an evaluation of the political public sphere, Routledge

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