The advent of a new technology also heralds a new kind of power. The Internet is probably the most powerful tool to have ever existed. Winner writes that there are two ways that artifacts can contain political properties. One is in the way the artifact is intended to be used; used in a way that affects the affairs of a society. Second, he states is what is called “inherently political artifacts.” This occurs just by virtue of an artifact being used. The use creates a political effect.
The internet can function in both ways. When the internet was created from a US Defense Department project, it seemed like the power was in everybody’s hands. We could have a slice of the huge cake called the Internet. But that soon turned out to be far from the truth as huge corporations rose up to shape the internet stratosphere. Who owns the internet? The obvious answer is No. But a look at the websites you visit reveals a different answer. You would like to browse the World Wide Web, you use Google. You would like to watch a video, you use YouTube. You would like to send a mail, you use Gmail. All of these platforms are owned by one singular entity: Google. And the megacorporation collects your data. But Google does not have a monopoly on the data market. There are only a handful of companies that control most of the infrastructure on the internet. These companies include Google, Facebook, Amazon and a few others. These companies have the power to control the internet space in which you live and breathe in. And despite their claims, they are heavily influenced by government.
The government has its hands in the internet. The whole internet was spawned off of one of their prrrojects, the ARPAnet. It was not until sometime in 2013 when Edward Snowden released documents detailing NSA surveillance of the internet that privacy consciousness seeped into people’s minds. Now in 2020, several interesting facts regarding privacy and data breaches have come to light. All of the scandals involve the few corporations that control the internet. Our activities are being monitored and people are now aware that privacy is nothing but a façade.
People are looking to challenge the authorities that control the internet by creating their own little space. The Dark web is often criticized as being a cover for criminal activity, but it also serves as a haven for people who are tired of being regulated and monitored by the power structures on the internet. Here, they can truly participate in the internet space.In creating articles, movements, hashtags, people feel like they are taking some control back.
In this Digital Humanities course, I feel that by creating my own website in a little corner of the internet that I have control over, I am shifting the power structure if only by a bit. By hacking and tweaking a piece of work to my taste, I have gained some form of control.
Works Cited: Winner, Langdon. Do Artifacts Have Politics? www.cc.gatech.edu/~beki/cs4001/Winner.pdf.