This book is written to respond to the often heard but erroneous statement: “You can find everything online now!” Internet users assume that information is free. They do not question if free (in the sense of gratis) information fetters the freedom (in the sense of liber) of information. Using Google as a case study and the political economy of communication as an approach, this book aims to examine Google as a corporation in a capitalist system. The book illustrates how Google is both a product and a force in a specific political economic system. The ultimate aim of the book is to empower readers to realise that Internet users have the power to free information.
As each day passes, and as new and better devices and services are developed, more and more government and private services are being moved to an online format. This movement makes access to the internet essential for twenty-first century life. The internet has become so integrated in our lives that many of us cannot imagine how we could operate without it. This omnipresent ‘being’ affects all forms of ‘normal’ social and economic activity and does so in ways that we do not realize.
Those with access are able to engage with government, business, family, and friends more easily, which can lead to an improved standard of living. For the disadvantaged, however – those with the desire but without the capacity – a lack of access can be socially isolating.
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
- T. S. Elliott (1925) “The Hollow Men”
Engagement in the internet economy requires both physical access and the individual to have the necessary finances and skills to make and sustain their use. If governments and the international community want a fully functioning internet economy this requires that all individuals must be operating in it. That not all individuals do so means, very simply, that the internet economy is not fully functioning.
The text contextualizes for policy makers and legislatures why it is essential to ensure that individuals have appropriate access to the internet and what can be done to achieve it. The interrelationship/overlap between why access is essential, how it can be achieved, and the central role of the individual to the internet economy is explored and translated into the concept of connectedness. From this, solutions for ensuring connectedness for all individuals are developed.
It is Dr Cradduck’s hope that in the not too distant future readers will puzzle over why texts such as this needed to be written.