Magazine article Information Today

News Updates over the Past Year

Magazine article Information Today

News Updates over the Past Year

Article excerpt

After a long, hot summer (yes, we occasionally get them in the U.K.), it seemed to be an appropriate time to reflect on some of the past year's stories and check on developments since we first reported on them in the International Reports.

In our International Report from September 2005, we covered Internet governance and the role that the Internet played in terrorism and the London bombings. At first glance, it may look as though not many changes have taken place in the course of this year, but that's certainly not the case. For starters, Internet governance is still on the agenda, while the U.S. government's contract with the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is set to expire this month. Although attempts were successfully blocked last year to fold ICANN into a U.N. body that was controlled loosely by the U.S. government, the U.S. government decided to recommend removing itself from its role as overseer after a number of consultants reviewed the situation.

The NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) fielded comments that the U.S. should let another international body govern the Internet. However, there doesn't seem to be any pressing desire for a U.N. governing body on any front. The topic will probably continue through 2007, but since most of the Internet growth is now in other countries besides the U.S. and Western Europe, there will still be a demand for international representation in the managing of this world resource.

From London Bombs to Lebanon Blogs

A year after the London bombings were in the headlines, the bombings in Lebanon dominated the news. Internet technologies are again challenging traditional news media with fast coverage, personal viewpoints, and a broader range of perspectives. The British Broadcasting Co. (BBC) devoted much of its news coverage to the evacuation of British citizens from Beirut by sea during mid-July. But what are we learning from a BBC reporter when he reports on what the evacuees ate for their first lunch aboard a ship? This kind of reporting does not do much to enlighten me on the differing passions and aims of the protagonists. Instead, news sources such as Live from an Israeli Bunker and Electronic Lebanon provide personal accounts, in-depth analyses, and breaking news.

These two news sources come from opposite sides of the conflict. Live from an Israeli Bunker is what we now might call a traditional blog, with posts from one person and an opportunity for comments and replies. Electronic Lebanon, however, is more of an electronic newspaper/magazine that combines editorial pieces, blog entries, news, and analysis. It is a project from the Electronic Intifada (EI), a nonprofit electronic publication devoted to the topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. EI was created 5 years ago by two Palestinians, an American, and a Scot, each with their own biases. But if you need a better analysis of the situation (other than comments from President George W. Bush when he was unknowingly recorded at the recent G8 Summit), they make much better reading.

The October 2005 International Report featured Internet company investments in China. On July 23, 2006, the China Internet Network Information Center announced that China's Internet users now total more than 123 million. This represents a nearly 20-percent growth over the previous year. At this rate, China is expected to exceed the U.S. in the number of Internet users in the next couple of years. With two-thirds of Chinese users using broadband connections and with a greater proportion of the youths using the Internet than in most other countries, it looks as though Google, Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon, and others investing in entertainment, online shopping, or Internet protocol TV in China have chosen wisely.

Internet Growth Continues

Internet access continues to grow rapidly around the world. In the May 2006 International Report, I discussed a Digital Opportunity Index (DOI), which was produced by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), that was designed to evaluate Internet use and its infrastructure worldwide. …

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