"Although it is an old technology (deployed first in 1969) its expansion in the last two decades has weaved the entire realm of human activity in the Internet networks. While the digital divide persists, over 1.3 billion users of the Internet in 2008 and its potential expansion through wireless communication networks make the Internet in the Information Age the equivalent of the electrical grid and the electrical engine in the Industrial Age. However, in spite of ubiquituous presence of the Internet in our everyday life, its understanding as a social process of communication is blurred by myths and ideologies that populate the media. And yet, scholarly research has gathered a substantial amount of evidence, worldwide, in the last decade on the actuality of its effects. This lecture will summarize the main findings of such a body of research, including some conducted by Professor Castells on the specific effects of Internet-mediated communication in the patterns of social life, in business, in education, in public services, in politics, in the media and in culture, and will draw the analytical implications of these findings. Finally, the lecture will explore the reasons for the persistence of myths, be it utopian or dystopian, about the Internet in contrast with the knowledge we now have about its social consequences."
The Space for Thought Lecture series celebrates the completion of the New Academic Building and is supported by the LSE Annual Fund.
Added by nico_macdonald on October 17, 2008