Managing the Information Explosion
January 31, 1997
in this forum:
Should Internet users expect to pay for information in the future? Should the government provide Internet access? With so much information on the Internet, how can one avoid Web Trash? What does the Internet mean for those living in remote places? Can a "common culture" exist in the age of New Media? What skills do children need to learn to be media literate? Viewer comments regarding New Media.
December 30, 1996: Will information traffic jams increase in cyberspace?
December 25, 1996: The NewsHour reviews the Year in Cyberspace.
Browse the Online NewsHour's coverage of cyberspace.
Alex Randall of St Thomas, Virgin Islands, asks:
The new media means access to people living in remote places. The fact that I can sit on a small island off the shore of St Thomas and participate in the world is a revolution. The NY Times here costs $11.50 on Sunday. That's 50 cents of information and 11 dollars of jet fuel to get the paper here.
I want to know about the new media from a different persepctive. In Manhattan you swim in information channels. Outside the major cities, these new media are a way to be in touch with the rest of the world.
Is anyone looking at the new media from the perspective of the opening it makes for people who live outside the media capitals?
Jon Katz responds:
Alex Randall's question is interesing. Generally in media, marketers look for masses of people because they draw advertisers.People in distant, remote or rural areas have always suffered relatively in terms of content because they don't have enough of a mass to draw advertising money. This is surely true on the Web and the Internet worlds.
But in the Virgin Islands you now have access to much more information than you had before. MIT researchers report that this is transforming scientific research, for example, because reports, findings, studies are being circulated much more rapidly than ever before, and processes of ratification that used to take years take minutes. Research that used to take months to circulate is now available to everyone everywhere so this knowledge is shared much more rapidly.
In those ways, people in remote places will be better. But mass media will always aim at big numbers primarily, especially in terms of news. Hopefully you can form your own digital communities, though.