Bill Dutton, director of the Oxford Internet Institute, recently presented a seminar CRASSH in Cambridge, entitled ‘The fifth estate of the internet realm’. It gave me lots of ‘food for thought’ for developing my resources here, in terms of thinking about the impact of the net on various different aspects of society.
The work was driven by the question ‘what is the political significance of the internet?’. Views on internet technology are usually polarised – either thought of as entirely ‘free’ or entirely ‘controlling’ (for example, the Net Delusion). However, Dutton characterises it as strategic resource for reconfiguring access – enabling a fifth estate. Check out Bills’ slides on Slideshare for some very elegant examples of the concept in various different aspects of society.
(If you’re wondering ‘what are the other four estates?’, the idea takes its inspiration from Thomas Carlyle in 1831, who described the press as the ‘fourth estate’, extending the idea of the three feudal estates of the clergy, nobility and commons – each being an independent but powerful body of actors. (I think!).)
Bill’s presentation at Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/WHDutton/5th-estate-presentation-to-crassh-cambridge
Information about the event on the CRASSH website: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/1533/85
Bill Dutton intoduces the concept of the fifth estate (YouTube video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scMjDEUf4Rw