New media, politics and society- Second edition
Chapter 1: Engines of Change
chapter 1 Engines of Change We should not call the Internet the Internet. We should instead, says James Curran, call it the internet. Curran’s point is rather less flippant than it sounds. He observes that nineteenth century liberals had once believed that popular journalism would become an ‘autonomous agency of rational and moral instruction’ and had therefore capitalized the ‘Newspaper Press’ and suggests that we have applied the same idealizing or fetishizing attitude to the internet, arguing that it is now time to drop the awestruck capitals and see what this medium is really all about (Curran, Fenton and Freedman 2012: 60). That was the first change upon which I decided when coming to produce a second edition of this book. The second was to do the same thing with World Wide Web. We might also come to interrogate the term ‘new media’ – which, like Oxford’s New College (founded in 1379, but – by just 55 years – the newer of the University’s two colleges dedicated to the Virgin Mary), is starting to sound a little old. We will, however, let it stand for the moment, for the purposes of this book, though we might usefully think of the term as being under threat of erasure, or indeed simply in ironic air quotes. The survival of this term is not merely because there is not as yet another phrase in common usage which better serves the intended meaning; it is precisely because the innate inadequacy of the designation ‘new media’ seems quite...
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