International Relations: What kind of impact has the information revolution had on state sovereignty? Would you argue it has increased or decreased the power of the state? Why or why not?
Essay 2007 7 Pages
People are difficult to govern because they have too much knowledge.
Lao-tzu, “The Way of Lao-tzu”
The contemporary information revolution is due to technological progress in the computing and communication sector that, simultaneously, cheapened and simplified access to information (Nye 234). With the help of the internet and access to millions of websites, online news live streams, so-called podcasts and blogs, an enormous audience is now able to get information fast and everywhere due to the availability of laptops, broadband connections, wireless networks and internet cafés. As a result of focusing on cost rather than speed, the information revolution leads to “an explosion of information” and “is changing the nature of governments and sovereignty and creating a diffusion of power” (Nye 234). Joseph Nye, Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, equates this event with a third industrial revolution, therefore following the application of steam and the invention of the internal combustion engine (235). While Walter Wriston, former Chairman and CEO of Citibank and economic advisor to the Reagan administration, also lists the agricultural revolution as precursor, he states that “the third revolution enables the citizen to watch Big Brother” (172).
Only four years ago, statistics showed that 62 percent of all American households had one or more computers, a rise of eight percent within two years. Approximately 55 percent of people owning a personal computer also had access to the internet. Besides home use, the internet spread at work and school. Daily errands such as shopping or movie rentals are being handled online. People communicate with each other and create new websites every day. Computer users go online particularly in order to get the latest news or find information about the government and health services (United States 1-16).