Internet, in some ways, has proven to be the perfect realisation of the post-modernist’s fantasy of ‘borderless freedom’. Considering the power the space of the internet holds today, it would be a grave error for public discourse to not focus its attention on it. The internet space is huge (almost infinite?) and there is a need to introspect on its working and prevent it from becoming the hard-to-check-monster that many fear it would be. But internet is also a great leveling space because of its potential to be accessed and used by all, while being anonymous at the same time.
It was with this intention to propose some framework to this medium without hurting its ‘democratic spirit’ that the groups presented their manifestos. But to strike a balance between the dialectical objectives was a tough task and every proposal was confronted with its own practical limitations. It was commonly accepted that investing the role of assessing the web in the governments’ duties would be handing over of too much power which, would only come back to bite us. It was in order to prevent this that solutions offered the possibility of investing the primary role on its primary stake-holders: its users. This new role was thought of in the form of user-regulation, self-regulation, collective regulation, etc.
In order for democracy to truly succeed, it is necessary that it is accessible to all. It was in the light of this that suggestion was made for internet to be made a commodity as primary as water and electricity. The non-universality of its accessibility has created some serious problems in the form of increasing corporate and political control over the medium. Also, has emerged the problem of ‘virtual mob-violence’ i.e. a single internet user being targeted by a ‘virtual’ mob almost terrorising its victim and forcing her to quit the space – and of course, it is hard to track this mob down. So, the tool (of anonymity) which made internet a democratic space is what also makes it undemocratic. Similar is the problem of ‘abusive’ content, and surprisingly there is no unanimity in its definition either, making the policing of such content only harder. The ‘free space’ of internet has also created an explosion of information, lot of it suspicious in nature. And because they do not come with the tag ‘reliable’ it is hard to be discerning which has formed skewed up public opinion.
Report: Keshav Chandak
Photography: Samuel Buchoul
Editing: Samuel Buchoul