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The (Dis)information Age

The Persistence of Ignorance


Shaheed Nick Mohammed

The (Dis)information Age challenges prevailing notions about the impact of new information and media technologies. The widespread acceptance of ideas about the socially transformative power of these technologies demands a close and critical interrogation. The technologies of the information revolution, often perceived as harbingers of social transformation, may more appropriately be viewed as tools, capable of positive and negative uses. This book encourages a more rational and even skeptical approach to the claims of the information revolution and demonstrates that, despite a wealth of information, ignorance persists and even thrives. As the volume of information available to us increases, our ability to process and evaluate that information diminishes, rendering us, at times, less informed. Despite the assumed globalization potential of new information technologies, users of global media such as the World Wide Web and Facebook tend to cluster locally around their own communities of interest and even around traditional communities of geography, nationalism, and heritage. Thus new media technologies may contribute to ignorance about various «others» and, in this and many other ways, contribute to the persistence of ignorance.


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5 Media and Ignorance 67


5 Media and Ignorance he very concept of an Information Age has become fashionable among academics, policy makers, business leaders and others. Yet, within this Information Age persist several deeply rooted traditions of ignorance, perpetuating legacies of prejudice, discrimination, suspicion and superstition. In spite of the prevailing assumption that information equals enlightenment, some of the darkest aspects of past ignorance are sustained and even promoted by the media of the Information Age. These media include traditional mass media such as newspapers, radio and television as well as so-called new media including Internet-based communication via the World Wide Web, e-mail and social media. In the Information Age, both the traditional and new media forms make their contribution to misinformation, disinformation and the persistence of ignorance. CBN, SATELLITES AND IGNORANCE On the small Caribbean island of Grenada in the early 1990s, before the spread of cable television, the only alternative to government-owned media was an out-of-the-way facility that broadcast religious programming. The program content did not feature any local religious figures. Instead, the broadcasts from that facility comprised live or replayed terrestrial broadcasts derived from satellite feeds of U.S. based international television evangelists. These broad- casts were delivered free of charge to anyone within signal range and were relatively typical of media systems that are still in use to provide religious television programming to viewers around the world today. The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), for example, boasts of its international reach on its website where it claims to be Touching Billions Now...

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