Since the advent of the Internet in the early 1990s, analysts, policy makers, and academics have generated an impressive amount of research examining the role of the emerging technology in human life, and, perhaps more importantly, the impact of the Internet in the personal, social, and political realms. So much of this analysis, however, has examined the role of the Internet in the advanced Western nations, where technological development and diffusion are common, the mass media are privatized or semi-privatized and competitive, and assumptions of personal liberty are taken for granted. Even with the tremendous amount of cultural overlap between advanced Western nations, the Internet has had widely varying impacts, and netizens have deployed the technology to vastly different uses.
The purpose of this book is to begin the process of examining the encounter of the Internet with Asian cultures, Asian nations, and Asian netizens. The significance of this interaction cannot be understated, as the expectations for information technology began to impinge on almost all of the significant policy decisions faced by Asian governments, including funding priorities, educational priorities, military priorities, and so on. In many ways, the questions from which we find ourselves working boil down to this: Does the Internet transform Asia, or does Asia transform the Internet? Or are there a host of more complex cultural and social factors that make answering any version of these questions impossible?
On September 14-15, 2001, the university members of the Internet Political Economy Forum held a conference entitled "the Internet and Development in Asia" at the campus of the National University of Singapore. Nearly 150 participants attended from many nations with dozens of papers presented that provided in-depth examination of the economic, social, and political implications of the Internet, as well as the role of intellectual property in Asia. Although participants from North America were prevented from coming due to the tragic events of September 11, the conference was a meaningful effort to begin to consolidate and synthesize the findings of researchers from around the world.
This volume is a collection of some of the most significant of the papers presented at that conference. All of the papers have been significantly