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Issue 2 (September 2005)

Agnieszka Szymańska: Report from the Conference Media and Politics: Elections 2005 - the Sejm, the Senate and the President

The conference entitled "Media and Politics: elections 2005 - the Sejm, the Senate and the President" took place 17-18 November 2005 in Cracow in the conference center of the Institute of American and Polish Studies at the Jagiellonian University. The organizers of this event were the Polish Political Science Association (Polskie Towarzystwo Nauk Politycznych, PTNP) and the Faculty of Management and Social Communication together with the Faculty of International and Political Studies at the Jagiellonian University. The goal of the conference was a deeper scientific contemplation of the recent parliamentary and presidential elections in Poland.

Professor Władysław Miodunka, vice-president of the Jagiellonian University, officially opened the conference. Subsequently, those gathered were greeted by: Professor Włodzimierz Roszczynialski, President of the School of Banking and Management in Cracow, Professor Jerzy Malec, President of Cracow A.F. Modrzewski College, Professor Wiesław Kozub-Ciembroniewicz, Dean of the Faculty of International and Political Studies, Professor Michał du Vall, Dean of the Faculty of Management and Social Communication, Professor Teresa Sasińska-Klas, Chairwoman of the Main Board of the Polish Political Science Association, and Professor Barbara Krauz-Mozer, President of the Cracow Branch of the Polish Political Science Association.

The first day of the proceedings began with a plenary session, during which Professor Andrzej Antoszewski from Wrocław University gave a speech. The goal of his talk was an introductory analysis of the post-electoral situation. Antoszewski considered the questions: to what extent do the elections of 2005 change the previous way of viewing the Polish party system, and also what distinguishes these elections from those in previous years? In answering these questions the Wrocław scholar first differentiated the characteristics connecting the current elections with earlier ones, including among others low percentage of voter turn-out, the electoral failure of the representatives of the ruling party on election day, the lack of unambiguous victors who would be fit to be in government independently, and also the geographical differentiation of the electorate. Next, Antoszewski listed the differing elements of the recent campaign: a change in the structure of rivalry (no longer the traditional fight between left and right), the concurrent dates of parliamentary and presidential elections, and destabilization of the left. Cautious optimism could be sensed as a result of the comparative stabilization of the Polish political party system that stirs up, in Antoszewski's opinion, an increasing lower turn-out, which in his view has a negative influence on the value of the representativeness of the system.

After a short break, the first plenary panel began, entitled "The National Council of Radio Broadcasting and Television (KRRiT - Krajowa Rada Radiofonii i Telewizji) and the Commission of National Elections (PKW - Państwowa Komisja Wyborcza) in Election Campaign 2005." The moderator of the discussion was Danuta Waniek, the chair of the KRRiT, who in leading off the discussion drew attention to certain shortcomings in legal solutions within the scope of determining the competence of the PKW and the KRRiT. Imprecise law is the cause for the situation where, in practice, the appearance of any doubts causes neither the media nor the PKW to turn to the KRRiT. Danuta Waniek also presented, among others, the results of telemetric research, pointing out very low ratings for election blocs (about 2%). The first to speak out among the panelists was Kazimierz Czaplicki, Secretary of the PKW, who talked about the legal problems connected with sharing air time, which happened as a result of the annulment of the list of candidates right after the end of sharing air time. Such a situation requires the adoption of additional legal solutions, which would prevent a similar situation in the future. The next to speak was Robert Kropiewski, director of the Legal Department of the KRRiT, who assured that the rule of law was carried out in the process of the most recent election campaign. The next voice in the discussion belonged to Stanisław Celmer, director of the Advertising Department of the KRRiT, who described the question of advertising profits of TVP, which by way of election advertising obtained a revenue along the lines of PLN 30 million. Next Jarosłąw Firlej, vice-director of the Presidium Department of KRRiT, presented the auditorium with the issue of complaints directed to the Department of Complaints and Petitions within the Presidium Department of KRRiT. The senders of these complaints, besides normal citizens, are most frequently those election committees who consider themselves discriminated against, and who in this way try to counteract the discrediting / marginalization of their own candidates in media reports. Stanisław Jędrzejewski, member of the KRRiT, as the last of the speakers, commented on the topic of relations between the obligation, resulting from a legal record, to carry out the social mission of the mass media and these actions in practice. Jędrzejewski reflected upon the way in which journalists can keep their impartiality and at the same time avoid the risk of the accusation of passivity.

The second plenary panel, "The Election Campaign of 2005 in the Mass Media", was led by Jarosław Szczepański, press spokesman for TVP S.A. Among those invited to participate in the discussion were Kazimierz Czaplicki, Secretary of the PKW, Tadeusz Fredro-Boniecki, journalist for the Polish Radio, as well as, Maciej Wierzyński, journalist for TVN24. The essence of the meeting consisted of perceptions concerning the role of the mass media in election campaigns seen from the perspective of the journalists themselves. They drew attention to, among other things, the heavy burden of program framework resulting from the requirement for rendering available air-time to candidates and election committees. One of the invited guests, editor Maciej Wierzyński, recalled moreover the debate of 1990, led by himself, between Lech Wałęsa and Stanisław Tymiński, which occurred before the runoff elections.

The conference session continued after the lunch break. Kamil Durczok, well-known presenter and journalist for TVP1, was the moderator of the third plenary session, entitled "Election Staff in Parliamentary and Presidential Elections". Among the team of panelists were the representatives of several political groups, including Lech Nikolski from the Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD), Paweł Graś from the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO), and Krzysztof Kotowicz from the Self Defense Party (Samoobrona). The discussion proceeded along two lines: the influence of publications containing the results of pre-election polls on the course of the election campaign and the phenomenon of black PR. The first issue was discussed in the context of the activity and reaction of the staff on publications of pre-election poll results.

After the next brief intermission the third plenary panel began with "Election Participation at a Crossroads". This portion of the conference was led by Professor Teresa Sasińska-Klas, representing both the PTNP and the Institute of Journalism and Communication at the Jagiellonian University. The first of the invited panelists to speak was Joanna Dzwończyk from the Cracow University of Economics (Akademia Ekonomiczna w Krakowie), who concerned herself with the topic of the reason for the absence of voters in the elections of 2005. Discussing the potential causes of this phenomenon, the speaker drew attention to the fact, among others, that starting from 1989, Poles were called to cast their votes as many as twenty times. The next to speak was Agnieszka Sora, the managing director of GfK Polonia and Maciej Siejewicz, the press spokesman for this company. In the beginning the history, achievements, and the scope of research carried out by this company were briefly presented. In later parts of the speech the varying attributes of the research tools applied by GfK were approximated.

The first day of the conference proceedings finished with a plenary session dedicated to the subject matter of the phenomenon of black PR. The discussion was led by Professor Tomasz Goban-Klas from the Institute of Journalism and Communication at the Jagiellonian University, who also appeared with a very interesting report. The phenomenon of negative PR is unfortunately very prevalent in Poland. This fact should awaken deep anxiety, the more so because it has an influence on the quality of the conducting of politics in our country. This is also true in the case of election campaigns, when these elements are being used in strategic action plans.

At the end of the day, the organizers of the event invited the participants of the conference to a formal banquet, which took place in the castle in Cracovian Przegorzały. The evening was dignified by the recital of Alosha Avdeyev.

The following day, the second day of the conference began with the fifth plenary panel entitled "The Media Image of Politics - Disassembly or Reconstruction?". The moderator of the discussion again was Professor Tomasz Goban-Klas from the Jagiellonian University's Institute of Journalism and Communication. Among the panelists present, the first to speak was Bogusława Dobek-Ostrowska from the Wrocław University (represented at the conference by an unusually large group of scholars!). The theme of the speech was to question the progressive professionalization of the Polish election campaigns, mainly consisting in an increasingly perfect absorption of the rich set of methods and techniques of communication into itself by political actors. This phenomenon also associates itself with the appearance of the category of professional communicator. Dobek-Ostrowska pointed out several means of classification of this category (according to one of them, they are divided into so-called 1. management, 2. specialists in the field of PR and media relations and 3. "technicians" / workers for technical equipment). Dobek-Ostrawska also drew attention to three elements of growing significance in the course of an election campaign: political advertisements, television broadcasts on the subject of the c ourse of the campaign, and pre-election polls.

After the end of the presentation by Dobek-Ostrowska, the moderator of the panel briefly commented on the phenomenon of progressive professionalization of Polish election campaigns. Goban-Klas drew attention to the fact that, contrary to the popular trend of comparing election battles with the classic market game, it is necessary to remember that they are, however, completely different situations (for example, in a political battle the winner takes all, whereas in the marketplace one can still function quite well while staying in second place). Barbara Kijewska from the University of Gdańsk spoke next, presenting the results of research[1] on the media image of politicians in women's magazines during the recent election campaign. The research shows that this category of media has undoubtedly marginalized the subject of elections in their publications (one exception was the magazine Glamour, where several columns were found on this subject). However if the profile of one of the politicians was in fact presented, the substance of the publication related to the private side of his life (for example the profile of the politician seen through the eyes of his wife) and most often concerned trivial subjects. In Kijowska's opinion this situation is the consequence of the fact that the reader (and perhaps rather the female reader) of this type of magazine is treated as a consumer with an inclination toward aestheticization (the ratio of words to pictures in reference to these publications amounted to 1:1!). The next speech ("Is the ‘Fourth Estate' Becoming the First?") became an opportunity for reflection on the role of the media today in the political process. Iwona Hofman from Maria Curie-Skłodowska University began her presentation with the statement that the term "power" (in Polish czwarta władza - fourth estate = "fourth power") is used in this context in a merely conventional way, and next, keeping with this convention, she also pointed to the growth in the significance of PR actions: if the media gains an increasing influence on the three political estates, then one must remember that PR actions have an increasingly greater influence on the media ("PR as a Fifth Estate"). Today's media and politics are fated for each other. A few negative consequences, however, result from this relation. First of all, the presence of the media forcing political actors to undertake PR actions lulls (or, as Hofman says: seduces) some politicians, who forget about the necessity of direct contact with the voter. Secondly, this situation has an influence on the low level of public debate (the main cause is time limitation, this being a consequence of the logic of operations of the mass media, especially the electronic media). In this situation, according to the opinion of Iwona Hofman, the virtue of ethical and professional responsibility of a journalist is of crucial significance.

The extremely interesting report of Maria Gmerek-Rajchel from Wrocław University deserved particular attention. It concerned the role of pre-election polls in the course of the election campaign. In the case of the most recent Polish elections all research institutions underestimated (for example Self Defense) and overestimated (mainly PO) the same political groupings. Maria Gmerek-Rajchel paid attention to the fundamental lack in Poland of a tradition of the research of trends and their appropriate base. At the same time she emphasized that the quality of testing done by Polish research institutes is without a doubt up to world standards. Therefore it is not so much polls that constitute a threat to democracy, as is rather their exploitation by the mass media, which very often presents their results in an unauthorized way (that is, for example, without announcing the size of the sample, research methods, etc.). What this all boils down to is the fact that in the recent election campaign infotainment prevailed over reliable information. There was a break after this speech.

After the break, the proceedings of the fifth panel continued starting with the report of Janina Fras from Wrocław University, who (on the basis of Kamil Durczok's program Debata (Debate) broadcast on TVP1) carried out an analysis of the genre of television political broadcast. In conclusion, Janina Fras drew attention to the fact that Kamil Durczok's Debata in essence is not a debate at all, because the discussion led in the studio does not have a polemic character and does not finish with any conclusions. Hence this broadcast solely transmits certain frameworks for discussion and draws the attention of the audience to certain questions.

The next to speak was Bartłomiej Łódzki, representative of the youngest generation of researchers of the communications process from Wrocław. His field of interest became the means of providing coverage of the parliamentary campaign on the news program Wiadomości (News) on TVP1. The results of his research established that, among other things, in the tested period 1/3 of the news pieces in the news bulletin of TVP1 concerned the subject of the campaign (while this made up 60% of the broadcast time), and the substance concerning the parliamentary and presidential campaigns very strongly intermingled and were hard to differentiate (by the simultaneous tendency towards a clearer presence of broadcasts concerning the presidential campaign). It is crucial that in the face of the results of Łódzki's research, Wiadomości appears as a secondary transmitter, however they did not at the same time perform the role of a passive transmitter. In reporting, the attention of the reporters focused mainly on reports about the largest party. Smaller parties rather became the subject of the broadcast by way of negative pieces of news, most often, however, they were marginalized. At the end of his talk the speaker gave a short summary of the media image of particular political groupings in the news bulletin Wiadomości.

Analysis of the content of the comments concerning Polish elections published in the columns of the British press was the subject of the speech of Ilona Niebał-Buba, another young adept of the science of communication from Wrocław. The results of her research were not optimistically inclined: the English press did not place a single positive comment on their pages on the subject of the electoral battle in Poland.

The last to speak in this part of the conference was Katarzyna Maciejewska, representing the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn (Uniwersytet Warmińsko-Mazurski). The speaker presented the results of research on the contents of Super Express in the context of the way of reporting the election issues in the campaign period of 2005 in the pages of this journal. The results of her research show that in reference to the presidential campaign, SE drew attention more than anything else to the three main candidates for president and it was designed in a large measure on the basis of negative news pieces.

Parallel to the proceedings of the fifth panel ran discussions within the sixth plenary panel, entitled "The Media Image of Politics - Legal and marketing aspects". This panel was led by Professor Krzysztof Pałecki from the Department of the Sociology of Law from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the Jagiellonian University. The first report ("The Image of Politicians in Women's Press") was delivered by Dorota Piątek from Adam Mickiewicz University. The next to speak was Robert Wisznowski from Wrocław University, whose analysis was given to the Polish election market. The next of the panelists was Małgorzata Janik-Wiszniowska from the Higher Vocational State School in Wałbrzych (PWSZ w Wałbrzychu) presenting a report entitled "Presidential Election Advertisements - the Form and Means of Visual Presentation". The next attempt at scholarly reflection on the phenomenon of negative campaigns in the most recent presidential elections was undertaken by Agnieszka Kasińska-Metryka from the Pedagogical University in Kielce (Akademia Świętokrzyska). After her, Lucyna Szot from Wrocław University spoke. The subject of her speech was the legal protection of candidates' images in the period of the most recent election campaign. Lucyna Szot spoke about a number of characteristic precepts regulating these issues, their means of interpretation and the possible method of conduct in the case of the existence of a situation requiring settlement in court. The last to speak on this panel was Agnieszka Sznajder, yet another young communications scholar from Wrocław. She focused her attention on the media image of the female candidate for presidential office within the Democratic Party (Partia Demokratyczna - demokraci.pl).

The eighth panel was led by Danuta Karnowska from Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz (Uniwersytet Kazimierza Wielkiego w Bydgoszczy). First among the panelists to speak was Mariusz Tomaszewski from PWSZ in Legnica, who offered for analysis the election programs of a party from the perspective of the contents of electoral demands from the field of ecological politics.

Next to speak was Sławomir Czapnik, another representative of the young scholars of Wrocław. The theme of his speech was the problem of the Polish-German relationship in the parliamentary and presidential election campaign of the Law and Justice Party (PiS - Prawo i Sprawiedliwość). Despite technical problems (the disappearance of a significant number of slides from the power point presentation), the speaker was able to present the results of his research, which unambiguously points to an unusual dual relationship of PiS to Germans and Germany. On the one hand, in announcements, PiS clearly was appealing to negative national stereotypes, while on the other hand frequent emphasis on a friendly attitude and concern about good-neighborly relations was also evident.

The diagnosis of the causes of the electoral failure of the Democratic Party was the goal set by Magdalena Darowska-Skawińska, also a representative of Wrocław University. In her opinion the problem of the Democrats was, among other things, the question of a lack of clear leaders (especially in the context of the continually growing degree of personalization in Polish politics). The second vital obstacle in the road to electoral success, particularly in the situation where the lines between parliamentary and presidential campaigns were effaced, was the personal dilemma connected with the decision about the choice of party candidate to presidential office. The centrist Democratic Party decided on the candidature of Henryka Bochniarz, perceived as a representative of firmly liberal views. This choice was a determining factor in blurring the image of the party and lowering the degree of identification with the party by its constituents.

The last on this panel to speak was Łukasz Tomczak, representative of the University of Szczecin, who drew attention to an analysis on the election campaigns of left-wing groups. In his opinion, in perspective, looking at the events in the Polish political scene during the period of the last two years, the election results achieved in 2005 by the main groups of the Polish left-wing are quite good, which should be acknowledged.

The next, ninth panel was led by Doctor Katarzyna Sobolewska-Myślnik from the Pedagogical University of Cracow (Akademia Pedagogiczna w Krakowie). Among the panelists was Tadeusz Godlewski from Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz, who presented a report entitled "Between the Presidential-Parliamentary and Parliamentary-Presidential Systems", Jerzy Sielski from the University of Szczecin, who spoke on the subject of the individualistic attributes of the ideal president in the Polish political system, as well as Krzysztof Kowalczyk, also representing the University of Szczecin, who took up the consideration of the concept of the presidency in the depiction of one of the head political groups in Poland, i.e. Law and Order.

The moderator of the ninth panel entitled "The Election System in Poland: Dilemmas?" was Arkadiusz Żukowski from the University of Warmia and Mazury. The host also presented a report concerning the dilemmas of choice of the electoral system in the context of electoral regulations to the Sejm and the Senate of the Republic of Poland. The next to speak was Agnieszka Hess from the Institute of Journalism and Communication at the Jagiellonian University, who focused her attention on an analysis of the mechanisms of creating election lists. On the basis of her own research, the speaker briefly characterized the methods and criteria of choosing candidates, whose names made up election lists for the most important political groups. After her presentation Jarosław Flis took the floor, also representing the same Institute at the Jagiellonian University, who on the basis of research conducted showed the results of binding election regulations. The most important of these is: the apparent character of the dependence on chance to obtain a place on the list, an ambiguous information strategy of candidates and a disintegration of political parties. The next to speak was Adam Dyla, also from the Jagiellonian University, who presented a report on the subject of the validity of division on the constituency in the most recent elections to the Sejm. In a very accessible way the speaker showed what consequences the course of division of territory has for election results on particular districts in general, and in particular what the effects were in this context of the new administrative division introduced in Poland in 1998. The last among the panelists to speak was Dominik Sieklucki, also a representative of the Jagiellonian University, who in his presentation spoke about the Polish left wing in the context of the transformation of the electoral system in the parliamentary elections of 2001-2005. During his speech, Sieklucki briefly outlined the actions of the Polish left wing after 1989.

The tenth panel entitled "Political Debuts - Dilemmas of Choice" was intended for students of Political Science, Journalism, International Affairs, and Social Communications at Cracovian colleges. Students of the Jagiellonian University, the Pedagogical University, Cracow A. F. Modrzewski College, and the School of Banking and Management took part. Jacek Stawiski, Information Director at Cracow's RMF FM radio, moderated the proceedings. The subject of discussion concerned political debuts, including also the role of the media within the scope of creating images of politicians (and also beginners on the political scene). In the course of the discussion a few other questions were also raised, such as: in general is it worthwhile to vote, and in what way, in the opinion of the young people, can we attempt to activate that part of society to take part in elections which normally does not? The first issue was discussed in the context of the Polish constituency, which in the opinion of the majority of students, sometimes starting a severe polemic with the moderator of the panel, to an imperfect degree reflects the real political will of voters through the composition of parliament, and furthermore to an inadequate extent ties members of parliament to a parent constituency. In reference to the role of the media in the context of promoting political beginners, students were inclined to the position of attributing the key role to the mass media in this question. Summing up the discussion, Jacek Stawiski (n.b. he himself after all represents the media!) directed an intriguing challenge to the students, to make use of the mass media only as a source of information and not allow it to influence their way of thinking or evaluating.

The part of the conference pertaining to the subject matter ended the plenary session of the Polish Political Science Association, which occurred after the close of the last panel discussions. The last item on the agenda of that day of the conference was a banquet in the Fountain Chamber of the Cracovian Journalist's Club "Pod Gruszką".

[1] The analysis encompassed in total 93 publications which were placed in the span of 4 months in the columns of 9 different women's magazines.

Andrzej Nowosad: Methods and techniques of procuring and processing media information for the needs of intelligence

The analysis of media information is a crucial (one of the most important, if not a fundamental) mechanism for procuring data about countries and regions. Specialized analytical units that browse the foreign press are to be found with practically every government and diplomatic post. The way in which the local press assesses the functioning of a given state has an incredible influence on the decision of foreign governments towards this country.

During the Second World War, American intelligence derived 95% of their information from open-access, 4% from half-secret, and only 1% from secret sources [Doronin 2003, p. 28].

Today, considering the cost of procuring information, it is exactly the press broadcast - commonly accessible on the Internet - which has become the basic source of information for foreign governments, and thus also of the assessments made abroad to the economic policy of a given country trying to gain political, credit, or investment liability.

It is no secret that in every country the broadcast of one media propels the other media in a spiral of information, and for the "informational awareness" of the society or foreign countries, even a "canard" from the press, repeated several times by various "trustworthy" sources becomes in the end "truth". This type of truth usually hits the mark beyond the borders through a press report presented through the embassies of foreign countries. In connection with this, on the basis of such reports, in their respective capitals, appropriate political decisions are undertaken, although in reality it may be an oft repeated "half-truth" or "lie".

For example, in March 2005 news cited by Polish journalists was announced in the columns of other media 6,227 times. Most of the references concerned the newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza", which made references 1,086 times. The paper "Rzeczpospolita" made references somewhat less frequently (1,066 times, that is 20 publications less). The daily newspapers "Rzeczpospolita" and "Gazeta Wyborcza" are leaders in the rankings of media most often cited outside the press reviews [Witkowski 2005] - they are not, however, fully objective sources. "Informational canards" occur quite often, and even deliberate misrepresentations. This is due to the fact, that the media participate in the active political game, and represent the interests of their owners, as well as, the political lobbying groups gathered around them. Hence, for an informational analyst at work for the needs of the government, it is important to establish both the "authenticity" and the original source of the information.

Vriens acknowledges, that information is made up of single received signals and their interpretation, which can subjectively evolve into data and bring about something new for the analyst. However, three signals can already be treated as reliable data [Vriens 2004, p.7]. The condition would be, however, that these three signals do not come from the same source, or a source dependant on the same original source, and that - above all - the information would be reliable.

In order to receive the original source of information, the Bradford method can be applied. As a librarian in 1934 he compiled a general rule allowing for documents to be put in order in a rational and economic way. T. Lafouge [1993, p. 26], and after him Martinet [1999, p. 80-81] thus describe Bradford's Law: If scientific journals are arranged in growing order in regards to productivity of thematic materials, there will exist a positive integer k and the core ro of periodicals publishing R (ro) of articles on a given topic in such a way, that if nR(ro) (where n is defined as a whole number) articles on the same subject are wanted to be received, it is necessary to take under consideration the number of periodicals P, which can be calculated with the help of the equation:

P = ro +K ro +K2ro +...+K(n-1) ro

This means that the general sources of the mass media can be divided into basic groups of surveys concerning ro , that is K ro , K2 ro ,..., K(n-1) ro , from which each provides R ro articles on a given subject. The Bradford method can be especially useful in working with the hypermedia, in hypertext, and in uncovering newspapers, which are based on winding up the informational spirals of press "canards".

Subsequently, sources of information can be divided with regard to reliability:

  • reliable sources - information which can be accepted as true with complete certainty;
  • reliable sources, in cases where there is a risk of error or subjectivism - the information is usually authentic, but can be subjectively interpreted;
  • sources of little certainty - the information is always uncertain and should be checked;
  • suspect or subjective sources - uncertain information which requires caution [Kwieciński 1999, p. 70; Wersig 2002; 2004].

For diplomacy, reliable information above all depends on the reliability of the source of the information itself. National analysts take advantage of the Internet to a great extent, however an undoubted shortcoming of hypertext is that it treats all segments of information and their carriers equally with regards to reliability [Caching, Yahiko 2002, pp. 276-290; Cooper 1983 pp. 9-26; Cook & Cook 2000], while applying the Bradford method with reference to hundreds of thousands of Internet sources is unusually arduous, time-consuming, as well as, capital-intensive. With regards to this, procuring "reliable" information from the inexpensive Internet becomes not only very expensive, but also dangerous. In diplomacy a high level of entropy of compiled information is much more hazardous than an information shortage [Doronin 2003, p. 185; Cronin, Overfelt, Fouchereaux, Manzvanzvike, Cha & Sona 1994].

This is why before the Bradford method is applied to Internet sources, it is better to make provisional use of other classifications concerning the worth of transmissions:

  • related to the contents (what is said) and
  • related to the form (how it is said).

In other words information should be segregated according to "material classification" (which corresponds to form) and "formal classification" (which corresponds to content). In the class of content category - the "subject matter" criterion stands out. Such a category is located in each classification key applied in the analysis of the contents of information. The number of thematic categories in keys applied in the analysis of the contents of information fluctuates from a few to a few dozen [compare Pamula 1996; Pisarek 1983].

In procuring, as well as, processing and transmitting information it is important that it be done in a systematic way (and not chaotically!), taking advantage of the rules of "key words", using exclusively professionally segregated data according to the communicative classification of the significance of the information.

According to Schiwely, there are three ways of conducting measurements of information:

  • nominal measurement - assigning examined units to isolated categories. There is no mention, however, about relations occurring between these categories.
  • ordinal measurement - arranging categories with regards to "how much" of a variable is contained in itself. Thanks to this we reach an approximate vision of the scale, which represents our variable, and points to the units, which portray the level of the scale where they are located.
  • interval measurement - if there exists a uniform unit of measurement for scale, with which it is possible to measure the difference between results [Schiwely, 1997, Polish edition 2001: pp. 89-90].

Adepts of the art of collecting and segregating information and analyzing phenomena very often resign from collecting data on a higher level of measurement, passing to a lower level to facilitate preparation of reports. This is not the correct way to act. The measurements should be taken as precisely as possible, in order not to lose information. A working outline can be of use to this end in the analysis of information, familiar from, among others, the methods of analyzing the contents of the press. The outline should include four indicators:

  • syntacticity and semanticity, which are confined to the presentation of the contents themselves, but do not advance to the direct description of hidden intentions, which the contents evoke or express;
  • objectivity, in which the categories should be so precise that the same results are obtained through different analysts;
  • method, which should ensure the elimination of partial or biased analyses;
  • quantitative depiction - the most characteristic of content analysis [compare Pisarek 1983, pp. 29-30];

on the condition that there will be no duplicate information sources and their derivatives.

Speaking very generally, content analysis should be a useful technique serving inference on a systematic basis and objectively identifying precisely defined information [compare Pamula 1996, p. 141]. Five basic rules for the identification of information and phenomena are:

  • give words (phenomena) a proper meaning;
  • bring them to their actual proportions;
  • create limits of reason, so as not to get lost in deceptive randomness;
  • ascribe the value to mutual relations between pieces of information (phenomena), in order that their logical coordination does not exceed the analytic possibilities;
  • observe each piece of information (phenomenon) and all surrounding information (surrounding phenomena) with complete relativity. Avoid creating categorical conclusions and statements, because it is just the unconscious desire of man for unconscious systematization, in other words a de facto striving for the inscrutability of researched phenomena.

The outline of the database should then also contain the four Gerbner basic forms for the presentation of information: existence, priorities, values, and relations of phenomena.

Table 1: The planes of content analysis according to G. Gerbner

Planes of analysis





Principles for the range of analysis:

What is it?

What is important?

What is valid or invalid?

What goes with what and how is it related?


What is available to the public, how often and how much?

In which context or order of importance?

In which light, from which position, with which valuations?

In which complete logical, causal, etc. structure?

Terms and measures:











Critical and differentiating features and qualities




Structure of action

Source: G. Gerbner, L. Gross, W. Melody, Communication Technology and Social Policy, New York 1973, p. 565 [cited by: Goban-Klas, 2002, p. 194].

Tomasz Goban-Klas declares, that the first plane - existence - affects that "which is" presented. The second plane - priorities - concerns the value of the subjects, plots, and figures in the general transmission system. The pressure is measured by what is situated in the presented content. The third plane - value - concerns the value system and tendencies. Orientation, bias, and the quality of the characteristics attributed to various plots and questions are measured. The fourth plane - relations - concentrates on the most complex associations in the range of analyzed material, as well as, in the synthesis of the results of the remaining dimensions [Goban-Klas 2002, p. 194].

In this way the methodology of analysis of already sorted materials should contain the following categories in the database:

  • basic information for later analytic study;
  • current information about facts;
  • subjective-evaluative categories, containing valuations and warnings (through the analysis of the article it is vital to direct close attention not only to the facts, but also to the personal relation of the author of the delineated problem).

In the face of such categorized data, sorting media information according to basic groups can already be applied to the needs of analysis with regards to:

  • Analysis of cause and effect - if a results from b, while b results from c, then a can be defined by observing c. This type of cause and effect method of analysis leads to the fact that observing exterior indications can be an analytical road to reach an understanding of crucial observational causes of phenomena, which cannot be seen nor received in a direct manner.
  • Expert analysis - the statements in the press by experts in a certain field constitute a particular source group. Work with this type of source is always difficult with regards to opposing results. When three specialists meet, there are always at least four opinions on the subject of the phenomena under discussion. A judgment of an expert allows, however, a new way to look at an existing problem, receive fundamental materials and enter into the yet unknown source of information. The general assessment received through this data, with general difficulties, is normally very high.
  • Analysis of actual relations and possibilities - this is a definition of the network of relations between sources of information (the political or economic sphere) necessary to bring exact informational analysis of the relationships between "sources". This is necessary to investigate personal-societal and business relationships in the analysis between, for example, the owners of the mass media or the journalists who work for them with the organs of the state, banking circles, lobbying groups, coworkers of an enterprise or its executives, etc. [Doronin 2003, pp. 18-31, Gerbner, Gross, Melody, 1973, pp. 553-573; Hasanali, Leavitt 2004].

Taking advantage of information on the Internet

Analytic intelligence gathering through the mediation of the Internet is one of the most prospective courses of work for the security services [Hulnicka 2004, pp. 165-173]. Many now call this type of work computerized intelligence gathering.

A great interest in the methods of analytical intelligence gathering appear equally in public and non-public service. This is related to the fact that enormous amounts of information are found on the Internet, which can constitute an operational object of interest for the former, as well as, the latter groups. According to some sources, the resources of the Internet include currently 550 billion documents, of which 40% is available at no cost. Navigation in this network of resources is facilitated by over a million search systems, catalogs and databases. This is why special departments for analytical intelligence on the Internet were created in many countries in the world, especially Russia, the USA, Germany, as well as, Poland. They have the task of catching important information in the "digital ocean".

In Western Europe and the USA, procuring information through the help of the Internet has already become a very profitable business. According to press data, a few dozen companies which work on searching for documents, as well as, tables and drawings in the existing expanse of the Internet are incorporated in France alone. The French, for example, work in the engineering linguistic system MAAG, which is directed towards the informational-analytic protection of such key branches of the French economy, like the aerospace industry, transport, and the power industry [Doronin 2003, p. 170].

Programs for global searches Special "data collection processors" are made use of for global searching on the Internet. In this context the term "processor" has nothing to do with a microprocessor, but it is a part of a program, which determines how the program itself will sort, order, and analyze data according to data type. The data collection processor makes use of security programming which is called a "robot": the "robot" sorts out essential information, taking advantage of its entire arsenal of linguistic, semantic, and statistical means of analysis. Acting autonomously, the data collection processors seize each piece of information, of which there is an inquiry, whenever it appears on the Internet [Doronin 2003, p. 171].

Today dozens of such systems exist around the world, including LEXIMAPPE, SAMPLER, CANDIDE (The "Hume Machine"), HENOCH, IRIT, NEURODOC, NEUROWEB, PÉRICLES, SEMIOMAP, etc. [For their description see Outils d'analyse textuelle].

As the first processor of this type, the French processor TAIGA (Traitement automatique d'information geopolitique d'actualite - automatic current geopolitical information processor) was declassified. This complex program was originally prepared for the needs of French intelligence (which served 11 years; until 1987), after which it was handed over for commercial use. The tasks which are set by today's civilian specialist remains the same: "scour the Internet with the goal of seizing valuable information from databases about patents, notes of informational agencies, and publications about scholarly conferences" [TAIGA, Traitement Automatique].

The next French program for quality analysis is a program prepared by the company Acetic along with researchers from the University of Paris and is known as TROPES - Une logique d'Intelligence Artificielle.

The selection of sought-after information in TROPES is synchronized with key words and sensible notions connected to each other. For example mirage is associated with the words "fighter" and "plane", and the word premier with the words "minister", "politician", and "government".

TROPES, L'analyse de textes haut de gamme à la portée de tous, allows the simultaneous analysis of informational texts of hundreds of thousands of pages of standardized typescript concurrently on many planes, gives the possibility of creating the "scenery" of informational work, on the basis of which automatic searching is not the only process that takes place, but also orientation groupings of sophisticated data on many planes [Tropes, Analyse de textes].

NOEMIC, the "search engines", which replaced the system TAIGA not only scans, but also automatically "connects sources", processing received information with the speed of one billion characters per second, regardless of whether it is given in a ready form of databases, or for example it is transmitted electronically through an information agency in any language [Guisnel 2004]. If given the task of pulling out, for example, all relationships between American companies and companies in Hong Kong functioning in the microelectronic sphere over the last 15 years, it - as Doronin [2003, p. 172] points out - needs only a few hours to complete the task.

The parallel American system - TOPIC - was also designed in the beginning for the needs of military intelligence. The system appeared as the result of long research conducted under the auspices of the CIA. Today such a system was sold for commercial purposes, and all rights connected to it belong to the Californian company "Verity", the world leader in document and data collection [Guisnel 2004; Doronin 2003, p. 203].

The majority of these programs work according to several basic models of establishing relations between pieces of information and their sources. The basic models are:

  • The Hierarchical Model
  • The Network Data Model
  • The Relational Model
  • The Informed Directed Object Model

The Hierarchical Model has functioned from the beginning of the ‘60s. It represents an entirety of elements according to time classification and importance classification in so called "graphs" and "graph trees". It relies on the rule of hierarchy for the types of objects, when one type of object is primary and the rest find themselves in lower levels of the hierarchy and are subordinated. Between main and subordinate objects is established a mutual bond of "one in relation to many" [compare Gatnar 1998, Kraaij, Wessel 2004, Outils d'analyse textuelle, Schwab 2005].

The Network Data Model is connected to the actions of a network of computers and came into being in the ‘60s. In the network model the concept of a main object and subordinates is expanded. Each object can be both main and subordinate. Thereby each object can create a classification of data and also be a member of the collection. The network model of databases is similar to the hierarchical, but the nature of the relationships between objects is fundamentally different. In the network model the free relationship between elements of various levels is assumed, this means that it allows relationships of "many in relation to many". An example of such a system is "Cronos Plus".

In the Relational Model, each record in the database contains information related only to the specific object. Furthermore, data of two types can be worked with as one whole, constructed on the meanings of the relationships between the data. The physical independence of the relational model consists of the fact that the data model does not possess any physical descriptions. In reality, physical presentation of the relationship and the access paths is described independently from the logical description of the outline of the relation.

The Informed Directed Object Model, as opposed to the models described above, where pieces of information and procedures are safeguarded separately (data and the relationships between them in the database, and procedures in the program), allows protection of the processing procedures along with the data. Such a mutual protection is considered a step forward in the methodology of data management. The Informed Object Model maintains relationships of the type "many in relation to many" [Doronin 2003, pp. 206-210].

It is important to note, that in order to process information about phenomena in motion, the operations on fuzzy sets are taken advantage of, where occur:

  • dichotomies, where a = b and a ≠ b
  • sequence, where a = b, a > b and a < b
  • transitivity, where a > b ^ b > c => a > c
  • asymmetry, where a > b v a < b.

The method of density in fuzzy subsets allows for the examination of phenomena belonging to various concentrations and in addition for the testing of measurements including: distance, association and correlation according to the principles of numeric taxonomy.

For the delineation of the manner of operation of the system, it is enough to have the knowledge of the matrix itself expressing methods for the manner of operation of its elements (matrix of transformation - t), and matrix of the structure of the system, which is the network of couplings between elements (s). The examination of the operation of the system as a whole depends on this.

In the analysis of information for the needs of governments it is important to remember that permanent changes to the condition of the system is a process of its development, and the shaping of the political or socio-economic formation can be considered, both as a condition and as a process. The mathematically presented temporal law of motion of a system is expressed in the form of a vectoral equation, defining the relations between the entry and exit conditions at one time (t), and the condition of these entries and exits in later times. In the case of, for example, the course of action over time, having a one-time character, the algorithmic equation assumes the form:

Xt+ θ = TS(Xtt)

Yt+ θ = ST(Yt)

where t represents the starting point and θ the time of the reaction. [compare Nowakowski, Sobczak 1971, pp. 45-72].

In order to avoid analytical mistakes, we can assume as proven the method of classification of data by Robert T. Dattoli (1969), and suppose that the set of examined objects is divided into K, so-called initial classes: K1,1 K1,2, ..., K1,k. For each of these classes, its profile is designated in accordance with the rule of classification for connected classes (compare the experiments of the Cambridge Language Research Unit from the 1960s. Needham and Parker-Rhodos)[Dąbrowski, Laus-Mączyńska 1978, pp. 62-69].

As a result of the (t-1)th iteration the classes Kt-1, Kt-1,2, ..., Kt-1,k are obtained, having the profile Ot-1,1, Ot-1,2, ..., Ot-1,k, and then T will be the threshold value. The new classes Kt,j (j - 1,2, ..., k) are created in the following way:

Kt,j = {ai : P4 (ai, Ot-1,j) ≥ T}; j = 1, 2, ..., k

All objects which were not positioned in any of the classes Kt,j create the set Lt of isolated objects. A way of defining the profiles of the newly created classes is:

∑ P4 (ai, Ot,j) > ∑ P4 (ai, Ot-1,j)

aiεKt,J aiεKt,J

The described procedure ends in the case where for a certain t and all j = 1, 2, ..., k; Ot,j = Ot-1,j.

After the end of classification, objects from the set Lt are treated as a separate class or are individually ascribed to these classes to which they are the most similar. This method, with slight changes, was applied in the ‘80s for classification of a set of documents, and the changes resulted from the fact that in the classification of documents the selection of base value played a very important role. [compare Dąbrowski, Laus-Mączyńska 1978, pp. 60-89]. In informational signals this does not have such a great meaning.

To sum up:

  • the methodology of work from the sources from the mass media should be based upon:
  • the definition of the goal of data collection.
  • the definition of the information sources.
  • the definition of the reliability of the information.
  • the collection of basic information according to categorization keys and semantic maps

The analytical cycle, on the other hand, should start from:

  • the formulation of a research topic,
  • the collection and sorting of appropriate information,
  • the processing of information according to categorization keys,
  • a synthesis of key information,
  • an analysis of key information,
  • editing with regards to contents and context.

In the analysis of media information for the needs of the state, which tools we make use of - whether the old and traditional method of "paper and scissors", or advanced computer programs which sort the material examined by an analyst - does not play such an important role. It is important that the analysis be substantive and competent, that the analyst does not undergo informational entropy, and that he does not accept all the media facts as real facts.

Ignacy Nasalski: Die politische Metapher im Arabischen. (The Political Metaphor in Arabic). Untersuchungen zu Semiotik und Symbolik der politischen Sprache am Beispiel Ägyptens.

The book was originally published in German by the Harrasowitz Publishing House with the aim of providing an analysis of the semiotic and symbolic aspects of the modern language of the metaphor within the sphere of the political communication process that centers its focus on Egypt. According to the author (a Krakow political science and Oriental studies expert) its results should deepen our understanding of the Arab culture, and in particular the area of political culture.

From a scholarly perspective, Ignacy Nasalski accepts the assumption that the political metaphor is an indispensable element of human thought. At the same time, the author emphasizes that not every metaphor appearing on the political scene should be treated as a political metaphor. On the basis of real classification a factor is an ideological load, which a given metaphor contains, and carries in itself. In opposition to typical poetical metaphors, the political metaphor is always a phenomenon beyond the individual. Its perception is not dictated by the personal experience of the individual, but is a function of the political and lingual practice of a given cultural field, and constitutes a social reflection of the collective consciousness. In practice this means that a change in the quality of the political language, and thus the political metaphor, is influenced by all social, political, and even economic changes. In a given situation, and at a given time, the ideology which dominates in the political discourse dictates how the image of the actual value system of a given society will model itself, and how the defined factors of its identity is made up, and how its political adversary (or at times enemy) is identified. This does not mean, however, that the way of thinking or the perception of reality changes, because only its manner of presentation changes. Hence, the author is interested not only in the metaphors themselves, but in their practical usage, for example the real impingement of their meaning in the area of social consciousness. The intention of this work is not to research what politicians say, or how and in what manner they do it, but the examination of what the expressed metaphor says about intentions, motivations, and attitudes, as well as, the effects of those metaphors which were voiced.

The author also emphasizes that the intensity of the metaphorical language in politics differs according to different situations, as a rule however the strongest metaphors are usually used during the period of election campaigning.

From the assumptions established in the introduction, it follows that in examining the phenomenon of the political metaphor, Ignacy Nasalski highlights the significance of the subject/sender of a given announcement. In his opinion it is this subject/sender, who gives the research real perspective. In the context of the political metaphor it is obviously not an individual subject. This is either a certain group (for example in certain totalitarian systems: a political bureau or a committee of the central party wielding power), or broader representatives of a certain social category, for example the intellectual elite (as in the case of democracy, as a system set up more in view of the number of communicators entitled to take the floor in a public debate). In the case of Egypt, it is not easy to determine who the sender is. The main difficulty can be broken down into two elements: on the one hand, the Egyptian political system is far from the ideal form of democracy, and on the other hand it is in constant change. Hence, it is difficult to state whether we are currently dealing with a kind of controlled language propaganda, or rather with a multi-voiced political discourse in the sphere of the language of political communication (for example, the opposition admittedly administers its own means of mass broadcasting, but they are censored).

Following the introduction in the book, the methodological principles of research are presented. Then the author provides a short presentation of the results of previous scholarly reflections on the topic of the metaphor in political language. The subsequent chapters contain a review of the theory of the metaphor, a description of possible planes of analysis of the issue of the political metaphor, and also a very astute and empirically well-documented orientation of this issue in reference to the Arab culture (and language).

The conducted analysis of the Egyptian political metaphor proved that the contemporary political language of Egypt features an abundance of rhetorical means and also a particularly pompous overtone. This is not, however, a type of beautiful verbosity, but language as a tool, which through its intended glorification of reality and a great deal of emotional-symbolic load contributes to the stabilization of the political situation, and becomes its guarantee. Its role is a construction of orientation patterns and societal behavioral models, as well as, proper motivation of members of society. This last task is indeed the easiest to accomplish, not so much through the help of rational arguments, but through the suggestions, not completely realized by the receivers, flowing from the method of depiction used by the language of politics. The political metaphor serves to some extent as the most suitable form of vivid representation, often appealing to the level of emotion and even fears of the recipient, and allowing for the possibility of intensive impingement through its symbols (the metaphor shows in this regard a considerable similarity with the mechanism of archetypes). And it is precisely due to the symbolic content of the political language from the common community of recipients that a society develops.

The political metaphor of present-day Egypt has to, then, help in the consolidation of an Egyptian society, and even in the transformation of the Egyptians into a modern society, in order to be prepared to undertake the challenges of the 21st century. Hence, the present state is illustrated through the metaphor only as temporary, and transient. Due to this, Nasalski notes, that in its contents the Egyptian political metaphor often uses such schematics of imagery, and particular myths (Mythos), as childbirth, pregnancy, awakening from a dream, travel, sickness, followed by convalescence or experiment, to which the society must surrender to. In effect many metaphors appeal to fears and apprehensions, as well as, hopes, which are usually triggered by and connected to transitory periods. Also mentioned among the challenges of the future are such problems as the combat of internal enemies, the plague of corruption, protection, and also the economic crisis or the compensation for the disproportion in the development of a civilized (advanced technology) Egypt and other developed nations. All of these issues find their own reflection in the modern political discourse of Egypt.

The book very abundantly appeals to (multilingual) literature and possesses also an unusually rich bibliography. An appendix is placed at the end, containing, among other things, examples of Egyptian political caricatures.

The book is an incredibly interesting, broad and very mature study of an unusually fundamental segment of political reality. For a European reader it is at the same time an uncommonly copious and rarely seen compendium of knowledge on the subject of the political reality of Egypt, a distinct nation because of the Arab cultural sphere. The language used in the work evokes absolute admiration in relation to the author: as the book is written in such beautiful German (the Polish author is indeed a political scientist and Oriental philologist - sic!) that only considering this feature makes the reading a real pleasure. In turn, with regards to its content, which consists of a vast knowledge on the subject, supported by unusually mature and weighty judgments, it is a shame that only a few can read it personally. This is why I will allow myself to express a postulate: it is necessary to undertake the effort to publish this book both in Poland (in Polish) and/or in English!

Pál Koudela: Fertility and Evolution. Changes in Reproductional Strategies in the Information Age


The first demographic transition can be interpreted as a change in reproduction strategies. Under bad conditions the safest way for humans to ensure their offspring is to increase their number; under good conditions it is easier to have fewer offspring with more parental investment. The further decreasing of fertility in the second demographic transition can be explained by the reduction of the size of the primary group. In the first and longest period of human evolution, the separated, face-to-face groups were typical. In such a competitive situation the pressure for under selection loyalty became a very adaptive feature. From the evolving societies original groups eroded. Tribes became clans, clans became extended families and later nuclear families. Now the final group size is the one-person group. People help their group to be successful when they have a career, and they give up their personal interests when not having children.

Key words

  • Evolution
  • Demographic transition
  • Fertility
  • Sociobiology

Fertility and Evolution

Demographers have given a lot of attention to the question: why and how the two fundamental components of the population - fertility and mortality - changed in the last two centuries. Global models entered scientific thinking under the name of demographic transitions and many new thoughts were born to explain these transitions. In the following we would like to add to the explanations already given on the basis of evolutionary theory.

The first demographic transition

During the last two centuries one of the most important events was a series of changes in strategies of reproduction. Until the beginning of the 19th century high birthrates and high mortality were typical of every society of the world even with the significant differences between them. (Maddison, 2001) The tendency for mortality rates to go down first appeared in England before the industrial revolution, and it accelerated in the 1840's. The reduction in infant mortality was not immediately followed by a reduced production - a good example for an exception is Hungary - therefore this resulted in the beginning of a huge growth of population which was halted by a reduction of fertility, stabilizing the relationship between population and environment.

These series of changes in population have come about everywhere at various times and at a different rate. This phenomenon was of course noticed by the social scientist of the time, but it was not until 1929 that the first scientific theory was published and was given the name of demographic transition. (Thompson, 1929) For the causes of these modeled changes they first looked to economic factors: industrialization, agricultural and technical development, urbanization, modernization, etc., and behind this reasoning stood the Malthusian theory. Actual historical research, the study of regional and societal strata soon showed that we cannot find such universal explanations in either economic or societal development. (Demény, 1968; Coale ed., 1976) The search for an economic explanation brought with it the study of the financial status of various groups in society, which brought us closer to the microstructures, but it was not until the last few decades that the question was asked how and why individual people had changed their reproductive strategies.

After all the global changes in reproductive strategies are based on the decisions of individuals. The delay in the biological approach to this topic is especially interesting, since in demography it is fundamentally important to consider a biological perspective. Ignoring evolutionary theory is also surprising since this question is central to Darwin's work.

Evolutionary theory's answer to the first demographic transition

The basic question is: what causes a change in reproductive strategies that can be answered easily from an evolutionary viewpoint: the changes in the environment. Within natural surroundings it has been observed long ago that the species who live in an unpredictable and in an insecure environment, and those that can expect a high death rate among their newborn, try to solve their problem of reproduction by having a large number of offspring and low levels of parental investment; while for those species living in predictable and safe environments producing few offspring is coupled with higher levels of parental investment results in a safer strategy. Following this model scientists started to investigate the inner dynamics of species, and observed how individuals make constant decisions about the optimal distribution of their limited resources. (Borgerhoff Mulder, 1992) Because reproduction is costly as a result of natural selection the organisms have developed an ability that allows them to behave according to the different strategies of reproduction in order to maximize their inclusive fitness. The main idea therefore is that in the animal kingdom organisms distribute their energy between somatic vs. reproductive effort. It is possible to switch between the two strategies at any time considering the costs and expected benefits. All of these mainly depend on the mother's physical condition, resources and the risk of parasites. With a growing number of children there is a reduction of available energy so a short-term energy reduction allows for a long-term growth in progeny since this way there will be more energy left. In a stable environment without risks and with plenty of resources for many generations individuals produce few offspring because the survival and reproduction of these is predictably secure. In such a situation it is not advantageous to increase the number of offspring because this would only reduce the energy per capita, thereby reducing the chances of safe survival. In a high risk, low resource and high mortality environment, on the other hand, it is advantageous to increase the number of offspring, even if this results in a reduction of the viability of individual offspring, because this way the probability of the survival of at least a limited number of offspring and the success of reproduction can be increased. In an unpredictable environment the taking of risks is more permissible since the individuals only know the immediate costs and returns. Individuals learn the appropriate level of risk taking when they are young and this forms their behavior patterns. For example stress in childhood can be linked to preferences in adulthood, sexual behavior: the timing of sexual life and the number of partners. (Chisholm, 1999) Local conditions of mortality decide individual strategies. Under good survival conditions the mother can allow herself to invest highly in her children increasing their ability to compete. Under bad conditions low cost childrearing of many children increases chances of survival in good years and reduces the losses in bad years. That is, where there are low levels of mortality, according to a long term strategy it is optimal to have fewer, healthier, more capable offspring with higher level of investment, because the individual can thus maximize the number of offspring with guaranteed high reproductive abilities for future generations. Even in industrialized societies it can be assumed that people have chosen similar strategies: basing the chances of survival of their own offspring on their experiences of mortality rates in their immediate surroundings, and - even if not consciously - these experiences influenced their decisions regarding the numbers of their children and the times of their births. (Wilson and Daily, 1997) A similar observation has also been made investigating current subcultures. (Bereczkei et. al., 2000)

Therefore the reduction in mortality can be interpreted for the individual as a change in the environment so individual decisions have to be understood in the light of this: the environment has become more predictable which results in lower fertility, i.e. lower number of children and higher parental investment. The changes known as the first demographic transition therefore were not a result of the idea of the optimum number of children in people's minds, they were not behaving according to some conscious plan when reacting to a lower mortality where they decided to have fewer children, but they reacted to the safer environment by changing their reproductive strategies. It is not accidental that it was also around this time that the relationship of parents to their children has changed, which can be understood as an increase in parental investment. According to Aries the parental attitude of the Middle Ages of keeping a distance and relative indifference were due to the high level of infant mortality. (Aries, 1962) This does not contradict the human species' specific feature: among various species a high level of parental investment which automatically follows from the long childrearing period (Pollock, 1983), and Aries's exaggerated negative opinion is in reality only a projection of current perceptions on children. (Sharar, 1992)

The population explosion resulting from the first demographic transition is only a "force of momentum", the result of the slow adaptation to the changes in the environment. How slow this was, of course, was influenced by the circumstances. The explanation of the demographic transition is therefore obvious. The reduction in the number of children is not a maladaptive behavior, but an adaptive strategy to the environment. (Lam, 2003)

Even fertility, influenced by Quality-Quantity progeny, seems to be a maladaptive behavior in a Darwinian sense. In Lam's opinion this in particular is very interesting in population dynamics: in modern circumstances fewer offspring pays in the more numbered offspring of the grandchildren's generation. But the parents' behavior is not surprising when they increase their investment in order to increase the quality of progeny, and to get higher status in allocating resources. They do all of these just to ensure the existence and survival of descendants in bad conditions. This way even an investment in quality repays itself in quantity in the next generation. In this sense there is not such a big difference between prehistoric and historic ages as it was supposed.

The second demographic transition

All of this is a somewhat compact explanation: the changed environment induced a new reproductive strategy, which, according to the closing stages of the model, guaranteed reproduction in a stable manner. At the same time changes did not stop with the information age; the fertility rates per female fell below the 2.1 reproductive level in the U.S and in Western Europe everywhere (Van de Kaa, 1987), and Eastern and Central Europe followed the changes at the end of the century. In Great Britain e.g. the total fertility rate between 1970 and 2000 fell from 2.43 to 1.65, but even in the U.S., which was often used as a counter example (Drucker, 2001), fell from 2.44 to 2.06 in the same period. According to Van de Kaa's explanation the dramatic fall of norms plays the main role, and he named this process the second demographic transition. (Van de Kaa, 1989) The demographic changes in the second half of the 20th century, on the other hand, are made up of many other factors. During this period the number of marriages was radically reduced, the date of marriages was postponed and the number of extramarital births grew enormously. In the U.S. only, in 2000 the ratio of extramarital births was 33.2%. From the 60's onwards the divorce rate began to increase.

During the 20th century the chances of survival kept increasing: life expectancy at birth went up and mortality and morbidity went down. Due to the low levels of fertility and low mortality rates the age-structure of the societies concerned changed radically: the number of the elderly grew to previously unknown proportions. The result of the continually developing - and for this demographic era greatly significant - medical science meant not only the growth of life expectancy, but also the growth in quality of life for the elderly. How long we live is no longer the only important thing, but also how well we live: this latter development is sometimes called the third demographic transition.

There are many factors behind these changes and it is also impossible to estimate the number and rate of implied economic changes. The reduction in the rate of marriages and the postponement of its dates has brought into doubt a marriage's function of founding a family: instead of the traditional integrative function of the family, cohabitation became more prominent. The previously central role of children was pushed to the background, in everyday life - in particular because of the lack of the family's integrative force - the continual strengthening of one to one relationships came to the front. It was not only in a statistical and legal sense that the family unit started to disappear, but the quality of relationships changed. Partly as a result of the emancipation of women, partly because of their rising employment and social status (Joshi, 2002), and partly because of the possibility of consciously choosing their number of children, for those living in relationships self-actualization became the most important. The family's role of socialization in forming society started to decrease. Whereas before values, norms and behavioral patterns were passed down through the family, now these have to be picked up from various different areas of life. These areas are driven by business and other interests, and they differ from each other both culturally and by location, and thus the child's developing system of norms is neither coherent nor stable which makes finding their way in society and maintaining relationships with others much more difficult. As a consequence of divorce children's emotional development also suffers. In the 60's the percentage of families with more children among the dissolved marriages was 40%, while today this proportion exceeds 70%. It is almost impossible to give even a global picture of those economic changes, which were the result of demographic changes, for example how the consequences of aging societies on the proportions of providers vs. dependants influenced economic productivity or pension system etc.

The first models of explanation developed from the classical economic framework embedded in the mechanisms of markets with cost benefit analysis. (Becker, 1960) With the spread of a sociological approach the explanation for demographic changes were extended by cultural, religious (McQuillan, 2004) and other viewpoints. (Bongarts - Maudlin - Philips, 1990) At the same time arose a need for long-term explanations as well, since the simple model of demographic transition cannot adequately explain the last fifty years demographic events. (Calldwell, 2004) One of such frameworks of explanation for long-term changes is the evolutionary theory, whose representatives give the following explanation for this process.

The second demographic transition as explained by the evolutionary theory

Man's change in reproductive behavior during the 18th and 19th centuries in Western Europe gave rise to preferences aiding low fertility. People, adapting to their changed environment chose as their fundamental norm the raising of fewer children. At the same time people's behavior - and so their behavior relating to reproduction - is mostly governed by cultural factors whose spread is also particular. The control over mortality and fertility is greater then at any time before in man's history. The influence of the external environment and of biological factors has gone down; demographical decisions are made by couples. (Robinson, 2003) The norms controlling behavior are spread by the aid of the cultural transmitting mechanism of learning, thus they form part of an autonomic organizational level, which has its own evolution and its coevolution with the biological level. (Lumsden and Wilson, 1981) Man is fundamentally a cultural being and so cultural influences can override biological factors and this is exactly what happened in this case. The particular cultural transmitting mechanism spread with incredible speed those cultural norms, which developed mostly through biological influence, i.e. the preference for low numbers of children.

This kind of explanation claims to include an investigation of the biological factors and the environments demographic determinants, economic compromises, personal tastes, preferences, sexual roles, self-interests and cultural interests, social security, and a safe future through their interactions with each other. It draws a parallel between behavioral ecology and the frameworks of life history theory, thereby uncovering the genetic and neurological substructures behind behaviors of fertility which are responsible for today's conscious decisions and which are the result of previously unheard of low fertility. (Hobcroft, 2003) Therefore, the answer to the question of how fertility could have fallen below the reproductive level is hidden in the common evolution of culture and biology. Biological evolution preformed human behavior in such a way as to maximize the number of descendants with the aid of sexuality. Sexual gratification on the other hand was separated from childbearing by contraception, thereby reducing the role of this biological function. At the same time evolution developed numerous inner drives towards personal relationships, towards feeding and parental responsibility, which was originally an adaptive behavior for the survival of the offspring. These characteristics continue to urge people towards bearing children, while the cultural norms primarily influencing behavior exert an opposite effect. As a final conclusion this explanation makes its central point the norms and their changes described by Van de Kaa.

The second demographic transition and the one person group

There are some difficulties with the explanation previously sketched. It is hard to decide when the biological or when the cultural determination is stronger, and why. The most difficult question to answer is: how could a behavioral form spread and stay present - even in a cultural way - which is maladaptive for individuals. In the model of the first demographic transition the lowered fertility was only a change in reproduction strategy, which led to stable reproduction in a predictable environment. This would have been the case, if the reduction of the fertility had stopped about one century ago. The behavior which led to a low number of children was adaptive while guaranteed a replacement population, but as soon as it fell below the minimum reproductive level it became maladaptive and so in one way or another it should have been selected against, or at least it should have shown signs of this.

In the following we intend to show a possible explanation to this dilemma from the evolutionary standpoint. The coevolutionary theories themselves have an explanatory power under societal conditions that were typical of the early parts of human history. These were the times when due to low population levels people lived in relatively small and separate groups. These groups were closed and had a tight group structure and in opposition to groups of animals they had high construction abilities and high levels of cooperation. With the development of language, with the aid of second and third level representations they built a cultural environment where the direction of genetic changes was taken over by the selection pressure of society. (Donald, 1991) A considerable part of human species-specific features which are still characteristic of humans today, developed in this period. These were, for example, the lowering of in-group aggression, the solving of sexual rivalry with the help of monogamy and the loyalty to the group. This last one was based on the following conditions: the development of cognitive abilities of humans and the possibility to imagine the group as an abstraction. These features and human constructional abilities, synchronizing abilities, gift for languages and abstractions - as a scene of changing representations - together lead to hasten the cultural evolution. Control systems, norms, languages - which were typical of certain groups - were developed with the aid of all these factors. These features started to evolve fast and in different ways because of the socializing ability of humans. Collective beliefs and religions evolved, and collective group plans, actions and constructions were directed by these common thoughts. Xenophobia grew hand in hand with the loyalty to the group, and later - after the sizes of the groups had grown and the amount of the available land had diminished - the inclination to negotiate between groups gained prominence, which further lowered aggression. Humans were adapted to life in such groups. Socialization is perfect and builds up a harmonious personality even today, when the child grows up in a world without doubts, when he does not need to consider the difference between good and bad, and is not responsible personally for decisions.

In modern mass societies written laws and other rules had taken the place of directing the ideas of the groups. Because of the differentiation of these rules religious groups, schools, political parties etc. exist parallel to each other, building on the elementary strength of people's inclination to be part of a group. Natural groups reduced fast under such conditions: tribes became clans, then families and then nuclear families. Man living in today's world is however proud of his personal autonomy. Living in groups in the past did not give people a chance for a private life (in a contemporary sense). According to current viewpoints about managing our lives - making clever compromises, actualizing yourself etc. - loyalty and faith hardly play a role. It is precisely this, that stands behind the instability of relationships and the consequence: a high divorce rate. Negotiations between groups are characterized by these patterns. The ultimate group size becomes the autonomous personality, who is forced to organize his own actions, choose the components of his own beliefs and convictions himself. We look for many pseudo solutions instead of the lost socialization as a consequence of the disintegration of family, for example in the media which gives us a spectrum of desired values and a feeling of connecting to a group for example in a soap. That is, the fundamental need to connect to a group lives on in man, and he indulges this desire in the most extreme ways. (Csányi, 2002)

Therefore man's ability to learn social roles and his need to satisfy this did not diminish in the one-person group, only the small groups of the past were replaced by the various social sources. With the loss of the family unit we miss its function as a place of primary socialization, even though there have appeared several secondary and tertiary fields of socialization (school, work place, friends), which are replacing the family's socializing role to an ever-greater extent. While in small closed groups the individual's behavior was determined hundred percent by the ruling ideas of groups, the development of the one-person group is influenced by ideas he encounters and these become his models. While in an archaic group the individuals' habits for choosing clothes could at most change by a change of generations, the most apparent thing about fashion today is that it changes extremely rapidly. Archaic man followed the models of his group and in his environment today he is still looking for reference groups whose models he can follow.

This is one reason why fertility became so low, because the spread of influential idea was very fast. However the idea was not an order to "have few children!", as the above mentioned theories of evolution supposed. During the cultural evolution the control of the individuals' most basic behavioral patterns were taken over by ideas. As we mentioned before this does not mean that man's biological urges have disappeared, simply that his socialization as a species-specific feature overrode his individual interest. In the historical period of group competition the individual's interest in the survival of the group rose to higher levels than ever before. This is still strongly typical of man even if the group in its historical sense no longer exists. This is the real reason why fertility went down. Simply an idea became dominant and spread "fashion like", very fast, and this idea was the order to put group interests first. The individual's biological reproductive inclination, his motivation for genetic survival did not disappear, only it was smothered by another "interest". Research on willingness to bear children reflects all of this precisely when we get the following answers as typical. According to such research even those individuals or couples who do not wish to have children mostly state or acknowledge that children are a good thing and they would also like to have children only "they cannot afford it" or "their career is more important". The definitions of career or of individual survival however differ from the previously mentioned usual definitions.

Even in the animal kingdom we can observe the dilemma or chance for decision where the individual has to decide between his own and his offspring's chances of survival. If he has a long reproductive life ahead of him his own life will become more important as he still has a chance to pass on his genes. If not, the scales will tip in favor of his children, and raising the level of parental investment will best support the continuity of his genetic line. In the case of one-person groups this dilemma has changed completely. The individual's idea of a career, of self actualization, of his being successful in life, are characteristic of competition between groups, which in this case mean one person groups. The human speciality: a loyalty to the success of and the defense of the group, come from the evolution based on small groups' competition in the past, and appears in modern mass society like the following. The survival of the group (the person) is more important than that of the individual. Considering that genetic diversity was low in groups based on familiarity the individual's "genetic value" did not suffer. Today the individual's career is the same as group survival and reproduction sacrificed in exchange is equivalent to self sacrifice for the interest of the group. Those responding in surveys are accurate in articulating their biological preferences when they state that they would like children, the ideal and the planned children express this. Their group loyalty is also accurately expressed when based on their individual expectations they give up on having children. The actual and complete number of children expresses this, which is usually much lower than the previous two indicators.

In this sense even the individuals' reproductive intentions were overridden by the cultural evolution in such a mega population as the western civilization. At the same time in the third world such a process of globalization has not even started or was about to start. In today's western society it was precisely for this reason that the numbers of childless couples and couples with only one child grew. This latter one has two characteristics. One of these is that this is the next step in a process, as the development of the two child family model is the result of the reduction of the number of children, which was subject to the workability of the nuclear family model. The relationships that were still stable in the nuclear family phase have loosened by now, the family's "sacred" ability to form a group as an idea is disappearing. The change in expectations of those embarking on the rugged journey of a marriage is also behind the growth in divorce rates. Today the individual's self-actualization and self-interest stand above the importance of self-sacrifice. Those entering into a marriage and deciding to have only one child - for similar reasons - are reducing their individual risks by having a low number of children: left alone it is still possible to raise one child without giving up one's career (Joshi, 2002), i.e. the "group interest"; on the other hand two would be difficult. This is therefore the result of the multifunctionality of the one-person group, and tied together with this is the fact that the ratio of families with three or more children has not changed significantly. This is because in these relationships traditional values, the value of the relationship or family as a community (group) is the governing premise, and therefore in today's society we can call this a subcultural phenomenon. The diverging distribution of numbers of children shows well this process, its development and the segregation of this subculture. At the same time the individual's desire to belong to a group still remains even under these circumstances. Although their willingness to bear children was pushed behind the interests of the one-person group, their altruistic behavior again and again finds a suitable group to flourish in. This is how the loyalty to one's company developed, the extreme example of which was Japan in the last fifty years, and which became the norm for behavior in the western world of management.


It was the explosion of the population, which made it possible for the small group as an organizational unit to disappear and for the second demographic transition to happen, but it was not the reduction in fertility in the first transition that directly caused further reduction in the second transition. There is no simple trend in the continued lowering of fertility rates. Both the first and second instances of reduction are a reaction to a change in the environment, but in each case there is a different change, and there is also a difference in the biological factors involved in the changes.

Naturally, in the framework of this theory countless important questions could and should be answered. As long as we accept the premise that the development of the individual happens in the community (Bruner, 1990), then it follows that with the disappearance of traditional communities the mode and circumstances of the development of the individual will change. We can gain a very particular approach to the development of imagined communities (Anderson, 1983), if we take into account the age-old need to belong to a community. But such revealing questions like these would belong to a further research.


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Krisztina Kodó: Past within the Present? Cyberculture Versus the Traditional Heritage

The advance of computers and online networks, and with it especially the internet, has introduced a new dimension of human experience into the daily lives of modern man. The opening up of this "domain" has provided the user with an experience into hitherto unknown areas, and even "worlds". While technology is continuously booming, and developing day-by-day (but perhaps too quickly for the majority of the people), the traditional forms of art, music and literature are expected to gradually disappear and die out. Can this really happen? Does technological development really seek to extinguish art and literature that is as old as Man himself? Or is there a bridge between the old, traditional forms, and the new? And where and how does the past fit into the present?

Based on the information given in Towards a Poetics of Cyberpunk (www.freesideeurope.com) the new world that was created was called ‘cyberspace'. Cyberspace is the home of the Cyberpunks and the Cyber underground. Hackers, phreakers and other cyberpunks, who do not want any laws or rules, rule this world. Some people tend to call this "net democracy", where everyone, regardless of status, wealth, race, gender, etc., starts off from the same level. "What determines your influence on others is your skill in communicating (including writing skills), your persistence, the quality of your ideas, and sometimes your technical know-how." (www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/basicfeat.html)

William Gibson a well-known cyberpunk writer defines cyberspace in the following manner:

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts ...A graphical representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the non-space of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding... (W. Gibson, Neuromancer)

Altogether cyberspace presents a different world. This world is a network of information, that is at hand and ready to use. We can explore and travel anywhere in the world through the internet, and experience the things others before us experienced in a lifetime or never. We just have stay glued to the screen.

The term "cyberspace" has been mentioned and used so often that it now seems a trivial and somewhat over commercialized term. Still, the "experience created by computers and computer networks can in many ways be understood as a psychological ‘space'." (www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/psychspace.html)

When the users of computers log on to an online service, send an e-mail, they often feel (either consciously or subconsciously) that they are entering a "place" or "space", which will provide them access to a seemingly unlimited world of meanings and information. According to Douglas Adams, writer, the computer "like a catalogue" contains numbers, graphics and information with "no natural boundaries". And the "space" can be considered as a door that the computer user can step through, where he will encounter another door, and each door will lead the user to another region of information. (Cyberspace, Documentary film)

To continue this thought "on an even deeper psychological level, users often describe how their computer is an extension of their mind and personality - a ‘space' - that reflects their tastes, attitudes, and interests. In psychoanalytic terms, computers and cyberspace may become a type of ‘transitional space' that is the extension of the individual's intrapsychic world. (www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/psychspace.html) This may be referred to as an interesting experience between the self and the other, which inevitably allows for all sorts of fantasies and "transference reactions to be projected into this space". (www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/psychspace.html) On the one hand, this provides an opportunity for the individual to explore his or her identity, while seeking out the identity of others. But there is a negative side to it as well where "people use this psychological space to simply vent out or act out their fantasies and the frustrations, anxieties, and desires that fuel those fantasies." (www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/psychspace.html)

This idea coincides with the views of internet and cyberspace experts, who say that "modern man lives in a sexually frustrated age" therefore it is no wonder that "sex is the best market for cyberspace". (Cyberspace, Documentary film)

What makes all this so interesting and fascinating is that electronic culture uses unusual sounds, lights, forms, colours, images and visions, which also serve to attract the ardent users of the computer, but especially the younger generations. For many the screen provides an outlet for creativity, by presenting ready-made images. The new forms of technology, creativity and the internet all help the individual to explore his / her identity.

But we ultimately have to deal with reduced sensations, because "the sensory experience of encountering others in cyberspace - seeing, hearing, and combining seeing and hearing - is still limited. For the most part people communicate through typed language." (www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/basicfeat.html) In other words we cannot see the other smile, laugh or cry; there is no physical contact, such as a handshake, a pat, a hug or even a kiss. Still, one can say that the lack of face-to-face contact has a curious power on how people present their identities in the boundless world of cyberspace. "Communicating only with typed text, you have the option of being yourself, expressing only parts of your identity, assuming imaginative identities, or remaining completely anonymous. ...Anonymity has a disinhibiting effect that cuts two ways. Sometimes people use it to act out some unpleasant need or emotion, often by abusing other people. Or it allows them to be honest and open about some personal issue that they could not discuss in a face-to-face encounter." (www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/basicfeat.html)

To an onlooker someone sitting quietly and staring at the computer does not entail much, but for the person in question it can "become an altered state of consciousness". How is this possible? According to John Suler, while one is reading an e-mail or is engaged in text talk, that is chatting, some people experience a blending of their mind with that of the other person, in other words the experience becomes "surrealistic". This is similar to a state of consciousness that resembles dreams. Therefore, these altered or dream-like states of consciousness in cyberspace may be one of the possible reasons for why it is so attractive for some people. And this may ultimately help to explain some forms of computer and cyberspace addiction. (www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/basicfeat.html)

This dream-like state of mind appears in literature, as well, especially in dramatical presentations, that is drama. We can also state that the appeal of the Theatre is primal, and it continues to be so even in its most modern forms. The more a primal quality in feeling is involved, the more effective it is as theatrical art. Drama basically begins with the "words printed on the page, but it rapidly moves off the page, through the imaginations of those who ‘realize' the words in performance and those who share the dramatic experience as audience and participants, into a new creation." (Banks, 1998, p. 15)

C.G. Jung was not really interested in the theatre or even literature, and the internet or even cyberspace was something still unheard of in his lifetime, but there are one or two references to either the theatre or drama in his Collected Works. Jung writes that: "One might describe the theatre, somewhat unaesthetically, as an institution for working out private complexes in public." (Davies, 1977, p. 145) Furthermore, "dreams may dip into the past and revive old memories; more importantly, they are - or at least some of them - projects for realizing the aims of the developing personality. They point to the future as well as to the past." (Hall and Nordby, 1973, p. 119) This view is very much valid for the users of cyberspace, who, too, seek to explore and define their own personality and identity within a boundless space that seeks to project visions of the future, still the past lingers on forming a bridge between the present, the future and the past.

One might say, that the dream-world is the area of human experience in which the Conscious Mind and the Unconscious Mind meet and the elements of the dream come from both realms in varying proportions. Therefore, literature (with poetry, novel and drama included) is a product of its creator (the writer, novelist, dramatist, etc.) that draws upon conscious experience and reflection, but the important elements included here basically come from the Unconscious realm. The reader or playgoer is extremely affected by the elements of the poem, the novel, or the play that arise from the writer's unconscious, and anyone who is at all sensitive to literature is sensitive to this dream-like aspect, which speaks and reaches out to the dreamer himself. The more powerful this dream-like aspect is the more powerfully it will affect him or her.

Viewing literature from this perspective is especially appropriate for drama, because in the theatre an audience, large or small, encounters the play at one time, and in so far as the play they encounter is a dream, they may be said to dream it together. Among the primitive peoples the great dreams of the race are common conceptions. They are also believed to contain great lessons and great riches of spirit for all the tribe. The great dreams of mankind or the tribe may be said to be the epics of Homer, the Greek tragedies, the Bible, the plays of Shakespeare, the novels of Cervantes and Dickens, a mass of poetry, and much, much more. But in the theatre we dream together, and the sense of community gives special power to our dream. (Davies, 1977, p. 191)

One of the things that Jung emphasized was that in a dream all the elements (this includes all the characters, even the evil ones, the terrifying monsters, benign spirits, and also the landscape of the dream) were aspects of the psyche of the dreamer. Thereby, he or she was the observer of his/her inner theatre, in which the full company of actors, the scene-designer, the director, and the author were included in himself or herself. (Davies, 1977, p. 193) This idea is well emphasized in the conception that human life is basically a varying degree of tension between opposites. And in this respect it resembles our dreams that arise from a realm within us not otherwise attainable, and understandable only from these symbolic messages.

The forces of opposition are one of the factors of cyberspace and cyberculture. Within the domain of cyberspace we encounter oppositional forces constantly in the form of people and newsgroups who are willing to help and have similar views and opinions in certain matters, but there are again those who abuse our privacy by sending advertisements, ‘spam' letters or even virus infected messages. But for whom is cyberspace? Anyone or just a select crowd? The well known slogan that "cyberspace will make us healthy, wealthy and wise!" is viewed with skepticism by many mainly because the physical world presents another vision of the world.

Through the development of the telecommunications network global culture will eventually reach all sections of the world. This has both its positive and its negative sides. Developing countries such as India, just to mention only one, can only continue developing if it introduces high technology. But can a country like India, whose manner of living and lifestyle is still heavily influenced by traditional values, and religious dogmas that go back for many centuries, shed its traditional cloak in a manner of years and follow in the footsteps of the US or Western Europe? Hardly. But there is a definite danger that the forceful spreading of global culture will cause the existing cultures to disintegrate in the near future. For the present the new forms of telecommunication serve as an attraction for the younger and the more adventurous within these countries, which are willing to widen their own intellectual horizons. But for the older generations, and those already in their late thirties and their forties, this will continue to remain foreign and unacceptable in their entire moral, religious, and ethical vision. The introductions of high technology, mass culture and cyberspace will eventually also have the effect of widening the gaps between the generations and enforcing generational conflicts.

The spreading of modern telecommunication and with it the use of the internet also has its benefits, whereby the cultural intimacy spreads a new way of talking with others. This facet allows for an openness to learn about other cultures, traditions, religions, and people, but cyberculture and cyberspace do not give advice and help on how to preserve one's own culture from simply being gobbled up.

What is the solution? Is there a solution? The world of the computer is a seemingly endless world. Many experts say that it basically depends on us how, and in what manner, we will use this new technology. But the ultimate aim of Man should be to maintain one's integrity, and to remain at all costs a human being. The importance of man's identity and the preservation of one's heritage are some of the main aspects that Albert Wass (Hungarian Transylvanian writer; 1908-1998) focuses on in his novels and short stories, and especially a work of his titled Heritage (1985). How does he define his and our Heritage?

According to the definition of the word, ‘heritage' is "something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor, a legacy, a tradition; the word may also imply anything passed on to heirs or succeeding generations". (Webster's Dictionary) This implies that the past bears a crucial importance on the present and also the future. In his work Wass also goes back to the history of the Hungarians and presents a history of legends that appear to be true with all its wonders and miracles. These acts of wonders and miracles have been passed on orally from generation to generation. This, however, is not enough, because these stories of miracle workers and ‘seers' run parallel with a strong belief in God. The chronicler seeks the truth of life, which as he gradually realizes is only attainable through a sincere belief in a God, who will help and guide man in moments of peril and crisis. But only man himself can find his own salvation. And ultimately man must know the past in order to understand the present, and with it create a better future for himself in this world. Therefore, the past is a vital part of the present that fundamentally influences the future.

The tendency of man to hark back to the past is evident. Only through our past history and experiences can we learn from our mistakes. Therefore, the past forms a bridge to the present and ultimately the future. Traditional forms of literature also attempt to bridge this gap between past and present through the various genres (prose, poetry and drama) that help us to create the images in our minds depending on our own fantasies and dreams. Traditional forms of literature satisfy man's need to live out his most inner dreams. Does cyberculture and cyberspace have the same effect? Can it be compared at all?

Through cyberspace the user is confronted with a static presentation of art. This is also referred to as a form of organic art with an aesthetic quality. These forms of art allow the computer user to create his/her own art. This visual approach of art moves toward a new direction and targets a different audience, a so-called subculture. And this is not the audience that goes to galleries, but who use the computer.

Is this the end of traditional art? No. Many things will probably change in the coming future, but not everything. And one of the things that will certainly not disappear are books and the pleasure that reading provides. Old, traditional forms will continue to exist, but will be dressed in a new form to suit the requirements of the new technological culture (such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, paintings etc. on CD-Rom or DVD or even literature to be accessed online).

Ultimately, cyberculture that is recent and has no ‘past' represents a new age and a new way of seeing and approaching life. This is based on the rapid development of communication technology. In contrast, traditional art, music and literature carries within it a heritage of many-many centuries. The past of mankind is ‘bred into our bones' and even though cyberculture is supposedly popular, works by Albert Wass and other contemporary writers (be it Hungarian, English, American or any other nationality), who seek to bridge the past, the present and the future are even more popular today, and will continue to satisfy our imagination and deepest fantasies.


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  • SULER, JOHN., 1996. Cyberspace as Dream World. [online]. Rider University. Available from: http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/cybdream.html. (Accessed 1 June 2005)
  • SULER, JOHN., 1996. The Basic Psychological Features of Cyberspace. [online]. Rider University. Available from: http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/basicfeat.html. (Accessed 1 June 2005)
  • SULER, JOHN., 1996. Cyberspace as Psychological Space. [online]. Rider University. Available from: http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/psychspace.html. (Accessed 1 June 2005)
  • RÉTFALVI, GYÖRGYI., 2005. Towards a Poetics of Cyberpunk. [online]. Székesfehérvár, Kodolányi University College. Available from: http://www.freesideeurope.com. (Accessed 1 June 2005)

Dávid Furmann: The Village and the University: the Model of Sajópálfala

Sajópálfala is situated at the heart of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County, in the Northeastern region of Hungary. The village with its 900 inhabitants can be found 12 km from Miskolc, which is the central city of the county. The region is considered to be one of the poorest areas of the country and even the European Union. This area used to be the industrial centre of Hungary during the socialist era. The change of regime paradoxically brought the opening of possibilities and the collapse of the heavy industry at the same time, triggering large-scale unemployment that still poses a huge problem in the area.

'Getting up from the floor' has been a part of the traditions of Sajópálfala for centuries. Since the Tartar invasion during the 13th century all the major disasters of Hungarian history have affected the small village. One of the most symbolic revivals in local history was the repopulation of the area by Russian settlers following the Turkish period. The uprising against the Ottoman Empire started with the refusal to pay taxes to the Turks and ended with the setting of the whole village on fire, which caused the total depopulation of the area. The new settlers - also mentioned as ‘Slovakians' by some contemporary sources - were not integrated into the feudal system of the 1700s and obtained the rare privilege of having their own farms. This inspired a long-term development of the ‘citoyenetté' until World War II and made Sajópálfala very different from other settlements of the neighbourhood. Afterwards, this prosperous, market-based agriculture was destroyed by the communist tyranny and the formation of the so-called ‘cooperative farms'.

Due to the forced industrialization of the area the everyday life of the 900 inhabitants became similar to that of the traditional mining towns of the region. The men worked in the factories and industrial sector, while the women worked in the fields doing agricultural work. Household farming was the only thing, which could survive state socialism.

In accordance with the ruling doctrines of the early 70's, Sajópálfala lost its autonomy and became a so-called ‘attached settlement' with the neighbouring Arnót, which was a great setback for the public administration of the village. Since then the Greek Orthodox Church has been the only force of cohesion in the life of the community. The strong faith of the people and the cultural and social functions of religion were the basic pillars that saved Sajópálfala from total disintegration.

The primary school

In the year 1990 the village took the opportunity to restore its former autonomy. Like in several small settlements of the country, the change of regime made possible a wide range of infrastructural investments and the construction of the whole network of public services starting with the sewerage system to the cable network and so on. The effects of the collapse of heavy industry that led to unemployment lessened a little bit due to the survival of household farming, already mentioned above, especially in comparison with the great industrial centres of the county.

The first democratically elected government put major emphasis on the importance of intellectual infrastructure, in addition to the material one, in disadvantaged small settlements. So as a part of the grand school construction project of the early 90's the building of a primary school began in Sajópálfala. At that time the number of first-form pupils was above 30, but by the time the building was completed, it decreased to five, which was not enough to begin the school year. So the inaugurated building remained empty for years.

The university

Meanwhile, in Miskolc the local scientific institution, the University of Miskolc (the former University of Heavy Industry) had to meet the changed requirements of a new era. Since the establishment of the Faculty of Law in the mid-80s, the former technological profile has changed. After the change of regime the emerging need for competitive knowledge urged the establishment of further faculties, just like the Faculty of Arts that also included the Faculty of Social Sciences. By the end of the decade, the Sociology Department has gradually changed its rather theoretical orientation to a more practical one with exact specializations such as regional development, ethnic minority studies and so on. This radical change caused an increasing need for local workshops.

By this time the management of the university had already come to know about the empty building in Sajópálfala. The interests of the university met the requirements of the local government; Rector Lajos Bessenyei and Major Tamás Kovács established the Social Research Centre of the University of Miskolc in Sajópálfala, and Mrs. Márta Pankucsi (who is also the head of the Sociology Department) became the director and manager of the Centre.

Since then a wide range of conferences and other scientific meetings have been held at the Centre. The theme of ‘Digital Village' was a discussion held between highly educated experts and majors of twelve villages from the so-called strategic micro-region, which was concerned with how the small settlements could benefit the most from the possibilities of the information society and the brand-new means of informational technology.

The University and the local community

"Sociology is the self-discovery of modern society" - this sentence has gained approval several times during the first workshop of the research group that involved both professors and students. This research was aimed at mapping the local resources that focus on human factors, and regarded material and human resources equally important. Some results of the research, such as the high rate of graduated people (highly above the national average even including cities and the capital), would have surprised even the inhabitants.

The major moral and religious authority of the community is still the Greek Orthodox Church, which has also been the main instigator of the highly developed civic attitude and spiritual cohesion that is mostly apparent in the way people here take care of the sick or elderly. A good example for this attitude was when the inhabitants rented a bus to travel to Debrecen, where they offered to donate their blood for a very sick person from Sajópálfala being treated at the Hospital of Debrecen. From among all the researches being in progress one of the long-term development strategies concerns that of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County.

'Academic Lectures in Sajópálfala' is a project in which scientists from very different areas make presentations for the inhabitants of the village about their domains. One of these lectures was about Benefit Societies (BS) in the USA, which inspired parents of handicapped children from neighbouring villages to found their own BS. Since 2002, an Information Point (IP) has also been established in the building. IPs are practically places where people living in small villages can use internet for free. The IP of Sajópálfala has made it possible, for example, for an elderly resident to keep everyday contact with her son and his family living in the US.

Internet and Titbits

The University of Miskolc in cooperation with the Technical University of Budapest has established here a Research Group for Information Society and Education. This group made one of the most interesting researches, whereby they examined the relation between the traditional human and the modern info-communicational networks in Sajópálfala and the neighbouring villages. Its major result was that the villages where traditional networks are still alive such as giving titbits or tokens to the neighbours, communicational networks of the digital era also work much better, than in those villages where the traditional networks of mutual aid have already disappeared. (Giving tokens as a present before dinner, for example, on pig-slaughter days has acquired a very symbolic meaning in Hungarian traditions, especially in the countryside.)


The principal conclusion of my paper is that Sajópálfala is prospering again, after a long while. Since they opened the Centre, real estate prices have been gradually rising, and the decrease of the number of inhabitants has stopped.

Sajópálfala is a good example for the fact that villages and civil attitude are not determined to be opposites of each other and there are still a lot of unexploited possibilities in the countryside. Besides, it is also a good model for the cooperation between a university and a village. Finally, this proves that prosperity is possible even in the poorest of regions with the most disadvantageous conditions.

Agnieszka Szymańska: The Media and European Integration

The process of European integration and the entrance of Poland into the structures of the European Union became an inspiration for a book published under editors Teresa Sasińska-Klas and Agnieszka Hess, titled The Media and European Integration (Media a integracja europejska), which appeared as a release of the Jagiellonian University Press (2004). The authors of the fifteen articles, which make up the book, are lecturers and coworkers at the Institute of Journalism and Social Communication at the Jagiellonian University.

At the very beginning, the introductory words of the book draw attention to the fact that the deepening process of European integration must be supported by the activities and broadcasts of the mass media. Successful integration relies therefore on the creation/shaping of a "European" plane of self-identification in the awareness of the citizens of member countries to the EU. However, these societies are accustomed to thinking in terms of traditional national categories. This characteristic process of the reeducation of the identities of future (present??) Europeans cannot dispense with the support of the mass media. Hence an awareness of the responsibility of the media for the course, as well as, the societal perception of the processes of integration is necessary (p. 7). The book is therefore devoted to the function and meaning of the mass media in the context of the advancing process of integration on our continent.

The contents are divided into two parts. The first contains an analyses of the media systems of chosen member-countries of the EU (Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, as well as, countries which were still candidates for membership at the time of writing, such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland). The second part is divided into articles dealing with the role of public opinion and the groups connected with the media in shaping the citizens' pro- or anti-European Union position. Furthermore, two articles, which were placed between the preface and the first part, serve as a kind of introduction to the discussion.

The first of these articles, written by Tomasz Goban-Klas, contains a survey on the topic of Polish membership in the EU, a typology of transformational planes, as well as, the informational society in the context of the European development program. In a colorful and eloquent manner the author points to the essence and necessity for the mass media to undertake supporting activities and he attempts to identify the barriers, which can be encountered in Poland in this field. Roman Bartoszcze, the author of the second article, writes about the role of the media in the process of mass communications and the next steps in the development of this field of study. The author debates which functions the mass media should have fulfilled in the case of Poland in the period leading up to EU accession and comes to the conclusion that their role should have relied on the supervision of the state and impartial reporting of the negotiations between Poland and the EU. Meanwhile (...) they did not create an informed public opinion, and above all gave information consistent with the political option of the newspaper (...); the authorities acted similarly in Poland and in Brussels and materials saying that Brussels had some reservations about the Polish government began to appear only after the positive results of the referendum(...) (p. 24). This, on the other hand, in Roman Bartoszcze's opinion, proves that the media did not fulfill their primary function and did not supply the society with substantial information.

The first part of the book, which deals with media systems of chosen European countries, opens with the next article by Roman Bartoszcze, containing an interesting description of the diversity of media institutions in appearance in Europe. This variety results from the fact that communal rule of law does not contain at all (or only on a very modest scale) regulations concerning the media sphere: television is treated as a service provider, and in such a depiction its activity does not fit in the range of elementary goals of the European community, which strive for the free flow of capital, goods and services. Audiovisual policy aims at the creation of a European audiovisual industry, such as would be able to compete in the global marketplace (p. 32).

In the article titled "The media marketplace in Great Britain. Chosen issues" ("Rynek mediów w Wielkiej Brytanii. Wybrane zagadnienia"), its author Lucyna Słupek characterizes the British media market in an unusually interesting way. In the beginning the history and tradition of their media is described briefly, including their legal situation, and finally also the particular insular customs of the media market. Further on in the article Lucyna Słupek characterizes the British press and television market. In the end the author remarks that further changes in the media market should be expected in the near future. Nevertheless, in her opinion somehow it is difficult (...) to believe that "Auntie Beeb", as the BBC is called in Britain, could lose that which distinguishes it from the others - its reputation for good public television, and even being the best of public television, as some claim (...) (p. 49).

The next article in this section of the book, by Teresa Sławińska, specifically describes the French media market. The author draws attention to the complete gamut of qualities which distinguishes the French market, especially the press: advanced regionalism, depopularization, a relatively low share of revenue from advertising (about 50%, in comparison with the USA: 60-70%, Germany: 75%), and also describes the dominant structures and trends in the (audiovisual) electronic media market.

The Italian media marketplace is the subject of Maria Magoska's article. Magoska presents an interesting image of Italy: its traditions, history, political culture, as well as modern times. A lot of attention is understandably devoted to the personage of Silvio Berlusconi, Italian prime minister. Concluding her reflections, Maria Magoska states that the situation in Italy is far from normal. She directs the attention of the reader to the necessity of conducting changes in the political situation in Italy (especially in the context of ensuring a real division of power), and undertaking activities leading to the independence of the media. The author is concerned that the present prime minister of Italy is not up to the task: (...) Silvio Berlusconi, who commonly breaks the rule of law in government and whose media empire is to a great extent the product of a corrupt system, is not the right person to lead such reforms (p. 78).

The similarities and differences of media systems and the mutual penetration of the German and Austrian media is the topic of an article by Agnieszka Hess. In the opinion of the author, the difficulties for both systems still lie in the growing concentration of capital and ownership, which results in the limitation of the variety of media offers, including independent editors and titles: Deregulation of the press marketplace in Germany and Austria, and especially in new German regions, did not lead to greater pluralism and democracy, but to a considerable extent brought about the concentration of ownership. Today the goal of the coming governments in the area of the media is to keep the greatest variety of media landscapes and at the same time limit the concentration of ownership (p. 86). Naturally certain differences exist between both markets, which is aptly presented in the title of the article "Two Michaels Danced" ("Tancowały dwa Michały"). In the relations between Germany and Austria, Germany seems to be on top: in the long run it possesses a significantly richer media offering and German capital dominates the Austrian market, and not the other way around.

Beata Klimkiewicz describes a course of reform in the Polish, Czech, and Slovakian media markets in a very interesting way. The author accomplishes a shrewd assessment of the actions that have been undertaken, compares the achievements of these countries, and points out the strong and weak points of the reforms carried out, and those areas, which still require changes. At the same time the author also considers the reforms undertaken in these countries in the context of the chance of their success, and also the challenges facing the European media [policy]: from the media reform in Central Europe it is to be expected that it will facilitate not only the creation of shared public spheres within the national framework, but the habituation of European media space through the strengthening of foreign transfers (p. 106-7).

The second part of the book begins with an article by Teresa Sasińska-Klas, which examines the results of a public opinion survey that was conducted during the years 1994-2003 and concerns the relation of the Poles to the European Union and their attitude towards Polish membership in its structures. This is discussed in both a general and a specific context. The analysis presents a starting point for a discussion of the results of the Polish referendum concerning EU membership (7-8 June, 2003), and also -connected to this topic - the issue of the effectiveness of the preceding informational campaign of the Polish government. The author does not spare her critical words addressed to the government, which in her opinion approached the results of the opinion poll with extreme optimism, and suggests that in the future, it would be better first to listen shrewdly and attentively to the voice of the society, which is an expression of societal emotion in crucial issues concerning the nation. (p. 125-6).

Marek Świerczyński is the author of the next very interesting article, whose text constitutes an assessment of the activities of the Polish media, again in the preceding period of th e referendum for EU membership, and also in the period immediately following. It is an evaluation made even more interesting because it is told from the point of view of the experience of a news reporter, occupying himself with the matters of integration, and at the same time trying to obey the defined rules of BBC distance to the described events (...) (p. 127). The author - having emphasized previously, that it is his personal opinion - conducts a very critical analysis of both the informational competence of the government (similarly like the author of the previous article), as well as the level of professionalism of the media itself. This point of view is even more valuable, because it also mentions arguments in defense of the media. All of this makes this superbly written article particularly worthy of recommendation.

In the next article, Małgorzata Lisowska-Magdiarz carries out an analyses of the contents of the comments of internet users on the topic of Europe, as they appear on the internet discussion forum of the web portal "onet". The starting point of the analysis is the argument that users of the internet in Poland make up the financial and intellectual elite of the country (or else they aspire to be this elite). Unfortunately, the conclusions - if taken into consideration - which the author reaches on the basis of this research are not inspiring: although objectively more is in the comments of internet users who give a positive evaluation of the idea of Europe, there are not many comments of "joy, bright spark of divinity"; none are convinced that "all men become brothers". The foreground is distinguished by sensitivities, complexes and many - as it seems - fears about the future (p. 154).

The topic of the next article is however a question about the role of public television in the process of the integration of Poland with the European Union. The author, Weronika Świerczyńska-Głownia, expresses the opinion, according to which the function of education and opinion-forming falls to public television in the context of European integration. This role results directly from the entrusting of public television, through legislators, with the duty of fulfilling a so-called mission. In this sense, it all comes down to the necessity of providing reliable information and education on the topic of Polish membership in the European Union and the resulting laws and obligations (p. 159). In the end the author expresses the hope that TVP (Polish Public Television) will not disappoint the expectations set in this regard.

In a very intriguing article Andrzej Wojnach considers which function the media can fill in the process of shaping the image of European issues (including also particular countries and nationalities) in the consciousness of the Polish recipient.

In the next article Ewa Nowińska analyzes the legal aspects of the informational activities of journalists. She starts from the exact discussion of the rules of Polish laws for the press, which place the duty of particular diligence in the process of preparing and delivering news broadcasts on the reporter. Next the author considers the cases of specific disputable situations concerning media transmissions and reflects upon how decisions delivered in these cases will affect society. In her conviction the results are unfortunately rather negative, because - paradoxically - legal practice indicates that providing that a journalist is true to the "particular diligence" of the workshop, he can even publish untruths (sic!).

The concluding article of the book was written by Katarzyna Pokorny-Ignatowicz. The author considers the issue concerning ethics in modern Polish journalism. She starts with indications of new ethnic problems which journalists in Poland after 1989 have grappled with, and then discusses professional organizations created for journalists and binding ethical codes.

The book as a whole constitutes a very worthy compendium of knowledge on the topic of the meaning and role of the mass media in the context of European integration in the period preceding Polish accession. The contents of the articles contain a high informational value and the selection of subject matter is very successful and accurate. The study allows a look at the relations of the integration of mass media transmissions with various, not infrequently very dissimilar, points of view. It shows its variability and informs on a range of mutual interactions. And to cite the words of the authors for the last time, time will tell in which direction these changes will follow, and how the European media audience - right in step - will change with them...(p. 195).

Milverton Wallace: Home-made Media for the People by the People?

Oh no! Not another piece about the death of newspapers! Er...no. The media revolution bus has moved on. This is about the grassroots assault on the third bastion of the mainstream media-television.

Weblogs have given media activists and ordinary citizens a platform to challenge and compete with the print media in some areas such as breaking news stories on something approaching equal terms. Podcasting promises to do to radio what blogging has done to print by making it easy and affordable for anyone with a computer and access to the Net to produce their own radio programmes and distribute them to a global audience.

But so far, TV monopolies everywhere, even in countries where their audiences are declining, seem impregnable. Is this about to change?

In the past few months both Google and Yahoo have launched video search services. This move is a predictable business response to the rapid increase in the number of videoblogs available on the Internet, as well as, their growing popularity. (A videoblog is simply a weblog that includes a video). And what does the impetus for this increase entail?

Primarily the desire of videobloggers to create alternative news and public interest programming in opposition to the normal fare offered by mainstream television networks. Add to that the growing adoption of broadband Internet connections in most advanced economies, inexpensive video cameras and easy-to-use video editing software, and the trickle of videos on the web has become a flood. Welcome to Internet TV.

"Already there is more data downloaded for video over the Internet than there is for music," says Mike Ramsay, a co-founder of TiVo, in an interview for a recent Newsweek special on the future of television. "What happens when a 14-year-old creates a BitTorrent browser that's easy to use and plugs right into your TV? You go from 500 channels to 50 million channels."

Well, that time is almost here.

Using open source web technologies, a number of techno-activists have created software that empowers ordinary people to produce their own TV programmes and to distribute them on the web as easily as they would produce and distribute weblogs. In addition, the software allows users to track new video content on the web and subscribe to them. But, most importantly, these technologies enable individuals and groups to share their own productions with others. This is just another chink in the monolith of monopoly media.

First out of the blocks are FireANT (created in their spare time by Jay Dedman, Joshua Kinberg, Daniel Salber and Erik Radmall) and Broadcast Machine, an Internet TV platform from the Participatory Culture Foundation.

FireANT is a desktop aggregator that downloads video rather than audio or text files from the web. It uses RSS ("Really Simple Syndication"), a web standard used by publishers to provide users with updates to their websites or weblogs. These updates are collected or aggregated in a desktop or web-based RSS reader, called an aggregator. Like podcasting, users subscribe to various shows or channels, which are automatically downloaded into playlists on the aggregator.

However, unlike podcasting, in which the application that catches the programme is different from the application that plays it, FireANT combines an RSS video aggregator with a built-in media player, so the user can download a video and view it in the same application. It supports the major video formats, Quicktime, Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, and DivX.

The application comes pre-loaded with a selection of video channels. Many of the leading videobloggers are here; but you do not have to retain this list. Users can search Yahoo, Google, or the Videoblog Directory for new feeds or set up their own channels on their websites. Because video files can be very large, the application automatically trashes videos after they have been viewed. On the Mac version, users can save favourite items by dragging and dropping them into folders. The full-screen video on the PC version is a mind-altering experience. Alas, Mac users must make do with a measly 3x2 inch screen until the next upgrade.

The Participatory Culture Foundation's Internet TV platform consists of a video publishing application called the Broadcast Machine, which you install on your web site, and the DTV, a desktop viewer application, which allows you to watch video feeds on your computer.

The Broadcast Machine delivers high quality, full-screen videos to large numbers of people with no limit to the size of the files. It is easy to install. Simply place it in the home directory of your web site. Once installed Broadcast machine launches a web site; use this site to create channels according to the type of programmes you are offering. You have the option to make the channels open to anyone to download feeds or restricted to selected users. To make your videos available to users, you can place the feeds on your server, if your web host allows you a large enough storage space, or enter the URL for the external source where they are deposited e.g. free, open source storage facilities such as Ourmedia.org and Archive.org, or Google and Yahoo video services. You may also opt to make them available via BitTorrent in order to reduce transmission costs. BitTorrent is a file-sharing programmme that spreads the load and cost of downloading large files over the Internet among members of a network. The more people downloading the file, the faster it goes.

These Internet TV applications are the open source movement's answer to the IPTV system being financed and developed by the major broadcasters and big commercial software companies such as Microsoft. IPTV is closed, proprietary. This is a more efficient way to distribute the mainstream programmes you already have on your cable, satellite and terrestrial networks. And here is a rich irony: mainstream media is appropriating Internet Protocol (IP), one of the fundamental standards underpinning the free flow of information on the Internet, to create a closed, locked down system.

On the other hand, Internet TV, in the true spirit of the Net, is open and accessible to everyone. Anyone can create TV programmes and make them available on the Web without having to be licensed by any regulatory authority. (For a good summary of the key differences, see http://tinyurl.com/djvab).

Broadcast Machine and FireANT are the spearhead of a global effort by the open source movement to harness the distributed nature of the Internet to make citizen broadcasting a reality. In doing so they have provided independent journalists and media activists with a powerful tool to challenge monopoly broadcasters everywhere and to produce and distribute alternative views of events and issues.


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