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Silence don't win no rights – and moderation in search of justice ain't a virtue.

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"The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear view mirror. We march backwards into the future." Marshall McLuhan Although there has been much academic gum rattling about how the democratizing web has opened a 'brave new long tail', (...the Internet), in actual fact it seems to be shaping up to look a lot more like the terrestrial corporate broadcasting world - with just a few players dominating market spending, while monopolising content and seeking to influence future trends. Quite literally then Rupert Murdoch on ether.. Already only 10 companies earn nearly ¾ of all Internet revenues, and the Big Four, Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL are now seriously dwarfing other more creative but smaller players. And so like Microsoft itself, they are getting fat on profits while beginning to control system/network innovation - as well as placing in jeopardy future individual rights and freedoms. All this with even less justification than Bush and Blair had to invade Iraq, but unremarkably for the same fundamentalist reason - profit.. Which of course should never be a dirty word, except when it IS. You know this of course when the word 'unbridled' comes to mind when there isn't a horse in sight. A diverse group of activists, bloggers and alternative media makers have recently successfully fought plans to pass legislation in the US giving phone and cable companies greater control over the future of the Net. With fresh network neutrality legislation being introduced in the new Congress, it is likely that fighting for its passage should be our, and the progressive media's, top priority. This will require public support to create sustainable "new media" services that help harness the power of digital media to ensure diversity and better promote social justice, freedom of expression and individual rights. Our internet system needs to have the capability to help define political and social "reality" for the majority of world citizens - but like most other things today the Americans think they own it The takeover of YouTube by Google and the buyout of MySpace by Rupert Murdoch represent the leading edge of a powerful interactive system which in true capitalist style, is slowly but surely being designed to serve the interests of some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet - rather than the people that use it. We all know that advertisers are already following our journeys through cyberspace, tracking our behaviour and collecting data. Whatever we do, i.e. e-mail, instant messaging, mobile communications, searches and yes blogging - we are being followed and monitored for commercial as well as 'security' reasons. Oddcast, is just one example of the new insidious and 'immersive media' companies, whose "conversational character products" represent a new medium for marketing to get inside our heads. "All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values" Marshall McLuhan Bloggers as well as social activists will increasingly need to ensure the development of socially responsible advertising which respects personal privacy, is transparent about how data is collected and used, and allows net users to opt out of 'immersive' experiences. We will all need to continue to ensure the net fosters independent identity and freedom, builds community and supports social justice. Lets not be silent as these rights are threatened by huge media moguls, and the mainstream reporters they feed - cos they don't give a damn about individual freedoms as long as they can keep their hands in the cookie jar... Having said all of this and pointed out to those that were blissfully unaware that the wolves are indeed circling the sheep, I sincerely believe that there should be one Iron Rule when it comes to the internet. ..... Don't f*ck with simple!

 

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Cully Downer is Irish and the author of 'Ahaanews' a UK based blog activist site. He has been a mental health advocate and freelance author both in the UK and North America. He works independently and now lives in the south coast of England.

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