Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
An Alternative Internet

An Alternative Internet: Radical Media, Politics and Creativity

Chris Atton
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 192
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    An Alternative Internet
    Book Description:

    This book explores how the Internet presents radical ways of organising and producing media that offer political and cultural alternatives, both to ways of doing business and to how we understand the world and our place in it. The book is characterised by in-depth case studies. Topics include the media of new social movements and other radical political organisations (including the far right); websites produced by fans of popular culture; and media dedicated to developing a critical, 'public' journalism. It locates these studies in appropriate theoretical and historical contexts, while remaining accessible to a student audience.Major themes:*The use of the Internet by political groups such as the anti-capitalist and environmental movements, as well as the far right*Radical forms of creativity and distribution: the anti-copyright and sampling/file-sharing movements, and their role as cultural critics in a corporate world*The development and maintenance of a global, 'digital public sphere' of protest through such practices as 'hacktivism'*The use of new media technologies to transform existing media forms and practices, such as news media and Internet radio.This is the first book devoted entirely to 'alternative' ways of political organisation and cultural production on the Internet. The author is one of the leading international experts in the study of alternative media, and this book is an authoritative guide to all aspects of these phenomena: the cultural, the political, the economic and the social. The range of topics covered will make it an attractive text for a wide range of media and cultural studies and computing courses.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-7698-9
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xvi)

    This book is a study of an ‘alternative Internet’. Through a sequence of case studies it explores the use of the Internet as a set of information and communication technologies (ICTs) produced by a range of individuals, groups and organisations whose philosophies and practices I have chosen to term ‘alternative’. By this I mean a range of media projects, interventions and networks that work against, or seek to develop different forms of, the dominant, expected (and broadly accepted) ways of ‘doing’ media. These projects might be explicitly political in intent, such as the media activism of radical, ‘amateur’ journalists who...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Internet, Power and Transgression
    (pp. 1-24)

    In an insightful essay that argues for the necessity of a cultural studies approach to the Internet, Sterne has pointed to the prevalence within academic studies of considering the Internet as a ‘millennial cultural force’ (1999: 258, original emphasis). He finds that the most common approach in these studies is to treat the Internet in terms of binary oppositions, most typically those of revolution/alienation and technophilia/technophobia. These approaches, he argues, assume the technology is autonomous from other forces (social, political, cultural) and suggest a highly deterministic place for the Internet. Lacking these contexts, such studies fail in their attempts to...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Radical Online Journalism
    (pp. 25-60)

    The primary aim of this chapter is to present an overview of the main features that characterise the critical, ‘public’ journalism that has emerged on the Internet, largely through the media of new social movements and radical political organisations and institutions. It will examine the dialogical and popular methods that inform many of the radical journalism projects on the Internet through a case study of the Indymedia network, described by one commentator as ‘to date the pinnacle model of citizen participation in the media’ (Giordano 2002). A key feature is the egalitarian mode of address, where intellectuals share media platforms...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Far-right Media on the Internet: Culture, Discourse and Power
    (pp. 61-90)

    The 1990s saw a dramatic movement of the European far right towards the centre of national politics, through a series of attempts to establish ‘respectable’ electoral parties. Right-wing parties with policies based primarily on nationalism and immigration (such as Joerg Haider’s Austrian Freedom Party and Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National in France) resonated with publics increasingly disillusioned with what they saw as centralist policies of the European Union, of a liberalism that to them appeared to favour the rights of ‘aliens’ above native-born citizens, and a globalisation that seemed to ignore domestic issues such as law and order, housing and...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Radical Creativity and Distribution: Sampling, Copyright and P2P
    (pp. 91-113)

    As we saw in Chapter 1, the progress of digital technology in recent years has hastened legislators and commentators alike to suggest methods by which the electronic transmission of information and ideas might be monitored, some would say policed. We have already met arguments based on national security, morality and economics. This chapter explores the last two of these in relation to intellectual property rights on the Internet, and does so through an examination of the implications of the exercise of those rights for creative practices and in particular the legal and commercial threats to ‘social authorship’ (Toynbee 2001). Finally,...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Alternative Radio and the Internet
    (pp. 114-137)

    Radio as a contemporary public medium tends to be considered primarily in terms of its industrial and cultural arrangements. We may identify five broad types of radio broadcasting: public service broadcasting, commercial radio, state radio, community (or micro) radio, and pirate radio. The first of these, perhaps best known in the West through long-established services such as the BBC, is predicated on providing services that, whilst funded largely by government, are independent of direct state control and are ideally free from commercial imperatives. The ideal of public service broadcasting, in the classic Reithian formulation, is to educate, inform and entertain,...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Fan Culture and the Internet
    (pp. 138-155)

    In Chapter 4 we explored how the Internet has been employed by musicians and fans to shift the emphasis of musical production away from corporate control towards more libertarian and collectivist ways of production and circulation. The use of open source licensing is one such attempt to encourage radical ways of making music. The discussion of Internet radio in Chapter 5 developed these issues further, demonstrating the ways in which the application of new technology to a traditional medium might prompt audiences to create their own forms of creative communication. The present chapter focuses on these audiences as fans and...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 156-160)

    In their study of online fanzines produced by women, Cresser, Gunn and Balme (2001: 470) state that ezines represent ‘[a] unique medium for communication’. The ezines examined in the previous chapter have shown us that to make such a bold statement is not only dangerously iconoclastic, it is far from accurate. We have seen the powerful historical links that persist between the printed fanzine and its electronic successor (though that is not to say that the latter has usurped the former – there remain large numbers of printed fanzines). Whilst, as we have seen, communication between fans may have been...

  12. References
    (pp. 161-170)
  13. Index
    (pp. 171-176)