For this blog post I have decided to look into how Mubarak’s departure as president of Egypt and the increasing prominence of the Muslim Brotherhood was dealt with by two ideologically opposed media outlets, Fox News, the bastion of conservative rhetoric in the U.S., and the Huffington Post, the blog and news hub of the liberal persuasion. The topic I have chosen presents a good fit for these two opposed outlets because the Egypt debate has taken on very different characters on the two sides of the ideological isle. Read more…
If you’re reading this, then it’s doubtless that somewhere on the Internet you’ve come across news about the earthquake and tsunami that have devastated northeastern Japan. Those of you who are more up to date will likely also know about the deepening nuclear crisis unfolding there as the damaged nuclear plants’ reactors near meltdown because of cooling system failures. What you may not know, however, is how media, both social, traditional and global are shaping the aftermath of this disaster. Read more…
There are many parallels between the development of the internet today and the development of the telegraph and later the telephone. The U.S government took somewhat differing approaches to its involvement in these new technological developments. The U.S government did not take a large interest in financing or encouraging the adoption of the telegraph and instead left it up to private industry. The Internet, however, was not devised by a individual and was instead a creation of DARPA, the military research branch of the U.S. government. It was early on used to connect research universities and later on began to enter the private sphere with the proliferation of email. Just like the telegrpah in the past, the U.S. government did not take a personal stake in proliferating the internet through goverment run/controlled enterprise and left it up to private companies to build and control the national infrastructure. There was then and still is now strong opposition from certain groups of U.S. citizens to government involvement in business of any kind. Such pressures have contributed to the current situation where the U.S. government oversees the communication infrastructure, rather than actively running and developing it.
To examine the alternative one need only glace across the Atlantic and look at the European nations and their infrastructure. The government exercises much tighter control and there is greater competition between competitors. This is opposed to the U.S where there are typically only a couple large companies that provide phone and Internet in any given area, the winners in the days of more fierce early competition. If the U.S. government had played a more active role in pushing nation-wide adoption of the telegraph, I feel that it would have been adopted early and been available to more consumers much quicker and at lower prices. That is of course assuming the government could run the industry in the interest of the people and not just those running it. Something businesses struggle with no less than government it seems.
To consider what the landscape would look like if the U.S. had done so with the internet, there is no better example than South Korea. The South Korean government took an early and a dedicated stake in the development of its national Internet infrastructure. It pushed ubiquitous coverage and the latest technology associated with it. As a result, South Korea has the fastest Internet speeds of any nation and does have not the digital divide in the U.S. where the urban centers have broadband and rural areas are forced to settle for dial-up. While this may not have been or be the most desirable solution for lining the pockets of the telecommunication companies, I see this as a much better solution for the nation as a whole and the citizens of the U.S. The South Korean government has recently begun making plans to spread 1Gbs internet around the country when the U.S. can’t even get 1mbs internet to people in Nebraska. I don’t think anyone needs a commentator to tell them who is winning the Internet arms race.
In conducting my research for the final project, I plan on using several methods to create a more informed paper. I will be examining the recent string of uprising in the middle east and Africa in conjunction with the toppling of the established regimes there. Qualitative and quantitative research will both be employed in an attempt to better understand the differences in the mainstream and alternative news sources.
On the qualitative side, I plan on looking for certain words and phrases that appear in the articles and examining the frequency they appear in both the mainstream and alternative news sources to see if there is any kind of bias toward a particular point of view, SRC ect. Additionally, I plan on looking at the frequency of links to external sources and other related articles in the attempt to establish the validity of the facts presented and to see if there is any kind of bias in where and from whom the information presented in the article has come from.
On the Qualitative side, I plan on doing some analysis of the point of view the articles are written from, how they portray the people involved and what kind of framing the article uses. I wish to examine not just what is presented, but how the article is portraying the event and what meaning it is ascribing to it.
I also believe meta ecology may play a role in my analysis as well. One of the key points of debate in the recent uprisings has been the influence of the internet and social media. What influence the different news sources ascribe, if any, and if there seems to be any legitimate shaping of the revolts/protests as a result of the presence is likely to appear in some form in my analysis because of the prevalence of this debate throughout discussion of this topic.
Comcast is one of the largest players in the cable, entertainment and communication industries. According to their website, Comcast has 22.9 million cable customers, 16.7 million high-speed internet customers and 8.4 million voice customers. They also employ about 107,0000 people nationwide.
While Comcast is indeed a massive corporation and provides services to millions of Americans, this does not mean that those millions of Americans think very highly of Comcast. Comcast has earned the ire of its customers and regulators alike for several of its recent activities. From a customer service standpoint, one only need to google “Comcast blogs” to see the result: the second search result after the official Comcast blog is a blog lovingly titled Comcast Must Die. This is followed by other individual blog posts from blogs not dedicated solely to bashing Comcast, with such titles as “I hate Comcast…” ect.
For in-depth individual accounts of how customers have had bad customer service and be poorly treated by Comacast, The Consumerist blog provides a laundry list of options to choose from. Stories such as this, or this, this one as well, even this one, this one too, and many more clearly show that Comcast has its share of unhappy and unsatisfied customers.
To find positive buzz and good customer relation stories is significantly more difficult than those of individuals slamming the service. The fact that people are more likely to blog their grievances as opposed to their satisfactory experiences does, however, need to be taken into account.
There are even some websites entirely devoted to bashing Comcast. For a slightly more empirical view of the situation I direct readers to Customer Service Scoreboard to see how Comcast stacks up. I feel the results are self explanatory, so I won’t go into much detail other then to say it’s not pretty.
One issue in particular stands out enough to merit mentioning on its own: this is none other then Comcast’s assault of the principle of net neutrality. In 2007 it was discovered that Comcast was secretly traffic shaping its network and interfering with P2P traffic. While at first Comcast denied the claims they eventually admitted to doing so after empirical evidence surfaced. The FCC got involved and it eventually went to the courts. What is significant here in regards to customer opinion is that 1)the consumer response was almost universally negative. 2) not only was Comcast engaging in traffic-shaping, but was doing so secretly without informing its consumers and subsequently denying its practices as long as it could. This created a backlash against the corporation among many current subscribers and served to damage the company’s image.
The Bottom Line
What all this boils down to in the end is pretty simple: many current customers are unhappy with their current service and the way Comcast has acted in the past.
The debate on national security vs personal freedom is one that has raged for as long as there have been nations to protect and citizens to exercise what freedoms they have been granted. One need only to look beyond their national borders to see that there are as many differing opinions on what level is appropriate as there are nations to set those levels.
Put simply, I do NOT think that the U.S. government should have any additional power to exercise prior restraint than it already has. I don’t feel that the events of 9/11 have much relevance as to whether or not the U.S. government should have additional or less power to exercise prior restraint. More than anything, I feel that 9/11 is merely used as an excuse and isn’t even the real issue here.
From an ideological perspective, I do not support government restriction of citizen rights beyond a certain basic necessary level. People tend to act in their own self interest. This is true of organizations, regardless of type, just the same. At the base level, organizations are just collections of people. These people will tend to act in their own self interest just the same. As has been demonstrated through the years in the courts, the government officials have repeatedly attempted to abuse their positions and exercise prior restraint on those news stories that would damage them personally and professionally. Whether it be Pentagon Papers, which detailed the U.S government’s involvement and deception in the Vietnam war, or any of the other host of examples, it has been clearly shown time and time again that government officials have attempted to abuse their powers to protect their personal position, or to merely suppress information, rather than truly act in the national self interest. If the U.S. examples do not provide a strong enough impact, one merely needs to look at what has occurred in foreign countries such as Iran or Russia to see what can occur where less safeguards are in place.
I do not necessarily feel that the government needs to have less power than it does now, so I can’t say there would be any difficulty in maintaining the status quo. The government is currently trying to increase what power it has to exercise prior restraint. Thus, some difficulty could be encountered even just maintaining the government’s current level of power, as this goes against current trends.
There are two possible outcomes in the case of leaving the government’s power where it is today. Outcome one is that everything stays as it is and the government has some, but not extensive, power to exercise prior restraint. Outcome two, and the one the current and the previous administrations are proponents of, is that the government will have it’s ability to combat terrorism and pursue criminals severely diminished without increased power as of a result of new means of communication, such as the proliferation of the internet and its various services. One need only to look at the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty, that the U.S. is trying to strong arm the international community into signing, to see where they stand. Perhaps most telling of the direction the government is moving is their reaction to requests from the public for the release of the details of the treaty which they had desperately been trying to conceal. From CNET, “Both the Obama administration and the Bush administration had rejected requests from civil libertarians and technologists for the text of ACTA, with the White House last year even indicating that disclosure would do ‘damage to the national security.'” Full text can be found here: Link~
In short, I only see negative implications should the government be grated any additional power in exercising prior restraint and cannot sanction any move in such a direction.