The openness paradigm magnifies access and use of resources that can be mobilised for a wide range of activities, good as well as bad. This is no surprise in the world of ICTs as they amplify the range and magnitude of social activities – but do not necessarily pre-determine the social activities themselves.
- The surveillance state/loss of privacy: Essential to the efficient functioning of a modern nation-state is the collection of information upon which the organized activities of the state are predicated (Giddens, 1990). In this way, effective modern governance is increasingly dependent upon observation and information collection to achieve goals such as reducing fraud, improving efficiency and maintaining citizen safety (Webster, 2002). A by-product of this information gathering is the increased potential of the development of a surveillance society (Bellamy & Taylor, 1998). Such a situation is even more pressing a concern in countries such as Singapore and China, or politically unstable democracies, where surveillance and control over information flows and the Internet effectively erodes the public sphere (Anderson, 2004). The outcome of these processes is not yet known, and certainly not pre-determined. What is clear, however, is that the issue of privacy will certainly be an increasingly important one in the future. Lasica (2007) notes that “privacy will be harder to maintain in the new order”. Indeed, as we move towards a geo-semantic web, with the combination of personal data and usage patterns linked to personal location raises obvious concerns. As we become increasingly connected, how much personal transparency will be required? How can we achieve the benefits of network effects and personalised services without sacrificing anonymity or privacy? Where is the balance? Will and how should people have the choice over what information is collected and shared by government agencies or ministries and how it is used?
Calling the police to account From today, it is illegal to photograph the police (in the UK), despite the fact that they use increasingly aggressive techniques to record us
- Internet addiction: Increased access to the Internet and games has led to a concern of Internet addiction in Asia. What other personal/psychological impacts does being constantly connected and on-line bring?
- Information quality: The shift from more traditional vertical to networked horizontal forms of content production and dissemination begs several questions, such as who is best placed to generate factual or informative content? And, what constitutes importance or necessary content? Examples can be found in the fields of health (where patients offer advice on care or prevention to others with similar medical conditions), education (where students answer each other’s questions), and even in more traditionally technical fields, such as the advent of the neo-geographers. The term neo-geographers is commonly applied to the usage of geographical tools (such as Google Maps) for personal and community activities or for utilisation by a non-expert group of users (usually embedded into a personal or community website). The question becomes, to what extent can these peer and non-expert sources of information be verified? How will we judge quality of information in the age of information explosion?