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Archive for the ‘Harold Innis’ Category

  In the last article, I said that  Internet can increase the monopoly of knowledge, because many information on websites are only posted by limited people, the people who has the skills to use the technology. They can easily portray one thing in a certain way they want, and spread this idea to millions of people through Internet.

  On the other hand, however, Internet can also break the monopoly of knowledge. Let’s take Wikipedia as example. Wikipedia is a largest and free encyclopedia online, it has more than 260 languages and now it becomes a widely-used search tool. Anyone with internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles; people from different occupation or different background can provide their own knowledge and deliver it to everyone.

  Due to this open and easy-edit system, now we can obtain professional information from the Internet instead of consulting the expert. Moreover, the professional information, such as medical knowledge or scientific knowledge, is not limited to the small group of scholars or governing authorities anymore.  Because of the Internet, people can exchange their opinions and share their knowledge to other people. Any kinds of information from art to astronomy, from history to architecture, can be found and learned from the Net. Unlike the old days, we don’t need to be an expert or have great power in order to gain knowledge; simply by accessing the Internet, then we can get all information we want.

   Therefore, Internet just likes a double-edged sword, it can be used to monopolize certain knowledge on purpose, but it can also decentralize the information monopoly. It all depends how people use it and how people view it.

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    When I was reading Harold Innis’ theory, I found one concept about ” monopolies of knowledge” that we can used in our project, in order to understand this idea and apply it appropriately, I did some research about it. And the following  is part of a article that i quoted from the Wikipedia.

According to communication theorist Harold Innis, monopolies of knowledge are created in the atmosphere of hostility between time-biased and space-biased media, wherein one tradition marginalizes the other. In this context, the term “knowledge” refers to all information and data in addition to the products of literacy and science.

Paul Levinson suggests that “[l]iteracy probably constitutes the most significant monopoly of knowledge in human history.” (Levinson, 1997: p12) In times when only a select number of people could read or write, the knowledge conveyed in written texts remained among the literate. It was these literate people who could decide the nature of the information that they passed on to the rest of the community.

Those who control knowledge through the dominant media of a given society also control reality, in that they are in a position to define what knowledge is legitimate. Thus, monopolies of knowledge encourage centralization of power.

    Internet, in some aspects, could be one way of increasing the monopolies of knowledge. People who have the skills to use the computer, who knows how to set up blog and how to post articles, have the power to decide what information can be put on the Internet. And because the space-biased quality of Internet, any ideas can be easily delivered over a great distance; any message could reach thousands or millions of viewers.

    If we get this monopoly, then we can easily portray ourselves (or one company, one country) as the way we want, we can persuade others to accept our opinion and the way we think, we can tell other people that we are the only truth to believe, and all the other source of information is not trustworthy at all. Perhaps the things will not be worse like this, but what I am trying to say is that “Stereotype can be formed or spread widely just by this monopolies of knowledge.” People who is ignorant of information might completely believe what a “knowledge elite” said, they don’t know whether the information they believed is true or not, because those who control knowledge have power to define reality.

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