International flows in the Internet


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.



  • Eszter Hargittai (1999 and 2007): Apart from studying online connections among OECD countries, this researcher is particularly interesting because she also wonders about diversity on the Net, that is to say, the real variation in the array of information sources that we access online.


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.