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You are here: Home Knowledge Base Brave New Media World? How the Internet Spreads Information Across the Globe
Symposium 2015

Brave New Media World? How the Internet Spreads Information Across the Globe

The Challenge

Hardly any recent innovation has contributed as much as the Internet to making the world become globalized. With this new medium, information about nearly any topic can be distributed at high speed and low cost, worldwide. This development most obviously has fostered international economic integration by lowering transaction costs. Moreover, it facilitates the transnational organization of political interests by providing efficient channels for mass communication. Eventually, new media might thus contribute to improving the provision of global public goods by equally spreading information on costs and benefits of related policy measures around the world, and helping to formulate demand accordingly.

However, the mere availability of new media does not necessarily guarantee an equal spread of information and better informed consumers, as a consequence. In fact, new media shift the costs of filtering information onto the user, and differences in the ability to do so may even increase the knowledge gap between the informed and the uninformed, within and between countries. If users find it too expensive to search and validate information from different sources, they might rely on biased information that match their preconceptions instead, potentially fostering ideological lock-ins. If individual costs of processing information are prohibitively high, consumers might even consume less information.

So, paradoxically, the new media may spread information globally, without improving the average consumers' deeper understanding of worldwide economic and political developments. While access to new media is the prerequisite for spreading information more equally, it is the new media consumers' patterns of usage that eventually determine whether progress in the information and communication technologies will result in more or less informed consumers.

  • Information and communication technologies are expected to further spread accross the globe. Internet-related services, media platforms, and social networks will continue to attract masses of users in the next few years. How can free access to new media be secured? Which specific skills are required to process the information provided by new media more efficiently? Which developments might interfer with egaliatarian access to new media and the information provided therein? How can new inequalities (within- and between countries) resulting from differences in the ability to efficiently making use of the information provided by new media be balanced out?
  • New media often provide information without editorial filtering. It is up to the user to select information, to evaluate its reliability and relevance. How can ideological lock-ins on the users' side resulting from selective news consumption be avoided? Which supply side measures might be effective (e.g. low-threshold access to comprehensive news outlets, label for "net-neutrality"), and which actors could offer the respective services (public/private/non-profit)? How can users be better prepared to process an ever-increasing amount of information (e.g. education, training in media competence)?
  • How can access to information and knowledge be facilitated without interfering with other values like individual privacy, cultural identities, and intellectual property rights?

 

This session is organized by Robert Gold, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Please check out the tabs below for additional facts and information.

    Solutions

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Responsible Openness

    Responsible Openness

    Responsible Openness

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    A European Journalism Fund

    A European Journalism Fund

    A European Journalism Fund

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Securing Access to Information by Securing Access to and Payment of Content Originators

    Securing Access to Information by Securing Access to and Payment of Content Originators

    Securing Access to Information by Securing Access to and Payment of Content Originators

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Promoting Digital Freedom Rights

    Promoting Digital Freedom Rights

    Promoting Digital Freedom Rights

    Background Paper

    Background Paper
    Symposium 2015

    Brave New Media World? How the Internet Spreads Information Across the Globe

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Virtual Library

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    ICT Facts and Figures 2014

    This report nicely summarizes recent developments in the supply & use of information and communication technologies (ICT) worldwide. Provided by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN a ...

    This report nicely summarizes recent developments in the supply & use of information and communication technologies (ICT) worldwide. Provided by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency, ICT Facts and Figures features end 2014 estimates for ITU’s key telecommunication/ICT indicators on mobile-cellular subscriptions, Internet use, trends of fixed and mobile broadband services, home ICT access, and more. A detailed and much more comprehensive report is available on the ITU's homepage http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/publications/yb2014.aspx, where ITU also provides data access.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    What Are We Not Doing When We’re Online?

    As the title suggests, this paper assesses the opportunity costs of Internet use. More specifically, it shows that an increasing amount of leisiure time is being spent online -- which crowds out a num ...

    As the title suggests, this paper assesses the opportunity costs of Internet use. More specifically, it shows that an increasing amount of leisiure time is being spent online -- which crowds out a number of other activities, as a consequence. Along that line, the paper sets out differences in the patterns of Internet use bewteen several population groups.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    The Big Question: Does the Web Cause Political Polarization?

    Lean back and relax: This is more of a must-watch than a must-read. In this video, Matthew Gentzkow, Brian Leiter, and Jim Kirk discuss whether the Internet polarizes the American electorate.

    Lean back and relax: This is more of a must-watch than a must-read. In this video, Matthew Gentzkow, Brian Leiter, and Jim Kirk discuss whether the Internet polarizes the American electorate.

    Watch "The Big Question: Does the Web Cause Political Polarization?"

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Filter Bubbles, Echo Chambers, and Online News Consumption

    This article starts with an excellent literature overview on patterns in online news consumption and related biases. The analytical part is comprehensibly outlined and comes up with a well balanced re ...

    This article starts with an excellent literature overview on patterns in online news consumption and related biases. The analytical part is comprehensibly outlined and comes up with a well balanced result, i.e. that the Internet, specifically social media, both increase and decrease the ideological gaps between its users.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2014

    This report features recent trends in patterns of Internet use, with a specific focus on news consumption. The report provides a number of country studies that reveal significant differences in consum ...

    This report features recent trends in patterns of Internet use, with a specific focus on news consumption. The report provides a number of country studies that reveal significant differences in consumption patterns, complemented by an in-depth analyses of overreaching trends. An executive summary can be found on pages 8-18. For getting just a quick overview, Section 2 (pp. 43-54) is also highly recommendable.