Elgar Law, Technology and Society series
Edited by Sean A. Pager and Adam Candeub
1 Sean A. Pager and Adam Candeub I.1 INTRODUCTION Digital communications, it is often claimed, accelerate cultural convergence, disrupt local cultures and threaten the nation state itself.2 Whether termed a “Flat Earth” or “Global Village,” the planet’s shrinking and linking is widely accepted as a fait accompli.3 Many celebrate this supposed acceleration and integration, seeing freedom in globally networked communities or profit in the accumulation of eyeballs to monetize. Others fear a monocultural wasteland; the vision of global unity celebrated by Disneyland’s “Small World” is derided as a Potemkin village masking inequalities of access and influence. But the metaphors and pundits’ prognostications hide how little is understood about how the globe produces, consumes, and exchanges cultural media. For example, is it in fact true that the richness of cultural diversity has retreated in the Internet age? The evidence is mixed. Closer examination reveals both peaks and valleys in the “Flat Earth,” and the “Global Village” turns out to be as much “Cyberbalkans” as homogenized 1 The chapters in this volume were first presented as papers at a conference entitled Bits Without Borders: Law, Communications and Transnational Culture Flow in the Digital Age, held September 24–25, 2010, at the Michigan State University College of Law. We thank the Michigan State College of Law, the Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law at Michigan State University, and the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center at Fordham University for their support of the conference. The advice and support of our editor Tara Gorvine...