Friday, September 10, 2010

Truely borderless?

International communications and technology has been used to theorize a variety of controls and influences one nation has on another. Theories such as the Dependency, Cultural and Hegemony theory have been used as explanations to justify or understand one country's products, language and values having been asserted upon another nation. International communications and or communications as whole have been "viewed as a process and a technology that would sometimes for religious purposes, spread, transmit and disseminate knowledge, ideas and information...with the goal of controlling space and people." (Corey, 17).

Corey's definition states international communications in terms of imperialism of the past and soft-power of today but it is not the only concept/definition of communications to consider. "Communications" is a term that is as intangible as "Culture" is society, as a "symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired and transformed," as stated by Carey. Communications in this sense can be used to look at intangible components such as culture, as a way to connect to a borderless sphere, that has integrated itself into the public sphere.

Take the public sphere defined by Manuel Castells, as "a network for communicating information and points of view." By definition a social network such as Facebook and a similar network Japanese version Mixi could fit the bill as a form of public sphere gone digital. No longer are issues contained within a room, within a single nation but the information is able to be transmitted among thousands of individuals from various locations around the global, in which people from one nation can have a say into the domestic issues of another nation.

Though there are limits to this "border less" social networking. Returning to the previous example lets focus on Mixi, a Japanese social network that could be considered border less as it can be accessed by users all over the world but at the same time it has limitations, borders if you so choose to call them that. These limitations or borders are Facebook in origin, in that, to initially engage in starting up an account on Mixi, you must have a Japanese cellphone e-mail address and also you MUST be invited by a current member. Some features are strictly limited to viewers only with ISPs in Japan to view say: videos and music. Another is the network is entirely in Japanese (verses Facebook's new multi-language user interface).

While people may see this in a culture context as something distinctively Japanese (another example of in group, out group), one must hark back to Facebooks' origins when one had to have a college address to join and the user-interface was strictly in English. Hence, while technology may be built to allow border less usage, sometimes the borders are intangible things that are brought about by the various way people or social groups view their interactions, and the limits they set on their own forms and ways of communication.

Thus, is international communications truly border less if even with "national" borders gone there are still self-imposed limitations that hamper communications between groups? If so then are theories such as hegemony, cultural and dependency theory one way streets or are is there more then one entity at fault for corruption or saturation of a cultural/society?

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