Recently, I discovered or re-read some academic studies which revisit classic International Communication concerns and apply them to the Net. It is interesting to see how much the new proposals can resemble research tradition, while still improving it.
In 1970’s and 1980’s it was easy to find scholars who criticised openly the unfairness of global information flows’ distribution. Core World regions (North America and Western Europe, mainly) always enjoyed more media attention, while peripheral zones (specially Africa) became easily forgotten. In 1990’s and 2000’s, with Internet popularization, such criticisms seemed to have diluted.
The following works somehow question to what extent such flow patterns have changed in the Web, where it is possible to visualize links better. Several studies substitute the traditional content analysis of international TV news by the study of new telecommunication networks (be it telephone lines or e-mail connections); other authors inquire into hyperlink exchange among countries.
- George A. Barnett and Joseph Salisbury (1996 and 1999): Their first work explains the effects of telecommunications on communication and globalization; the second deals with the network structure of international monetary flows.
- George A. Barnett (2001): In this paper, the main concern is the structure of the international telecommunication network (pdf).
- George A. Barnett and Han Woo Park (2005): Both authors are interested in the structure of international Internet hyperlinks (pdf).
- Naewon Kang and Junho H. Choi (1999): They look for patterns in the exchange of international news among Usenet users.
- George A. Barnett, Bum Soo Chon, Han Woo Park and Devan Rosen (2001): They look into online connections among OECD countries.
- Alexander Halavais (2000): He analyses national borders in the cyberspace according to international links placed in websites.
- Stanley D. Brunn and Martin Dodge (2001): Both authors are interested in ingoing and outgoing top-level domain links (e. g. between a given “.es” site –Spain- and a “.fr” site –France-). Dodge is also the creator of the famous «Atlas of Cyberspaces«.
- Han Woo Park (2003): His paper compiles many of the works that are mentioned here, presents some others and explains the strenghts of Hiperlink Network Analysis – HNA (pdf).
- Jean-Michel Guldmann (2004): His proposal deals with models of international telecommunication flows.
In some cases, the papers can surprise the reader: old unfair patterns are hard to correct, and information flows are not much more balanced in the Net than outside it. I find all the proposals challenging and original. They are praiseworthy efforts to apprehend the complexity of the real World (and the online World) we live in.