Monday, December 21, 2009

The power of the internet

A leader in The Australian today suggests how the debate in beginning to be shaped by the revelations on the generous Dr Pachauri, who gives all his pocket money to his own institute – without then declaring how much he gets in return.

Says the leader:

Essentially, the conference's failure to update the Kyoto Protocol leaves developing nations to do as they like. But as the long list of business interests of Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and head of India's Energy and Resources Institute, suggests, the politics of carbon are replete with vested interests.

How Dr Pachauri can remain impartial given his reported interests in fossil fuel, venture capital, alternative energy, research and motor vehicle companies is an interesting question that he is yet to answer satisfactorily.
That is indeed the question, but it was one raised exclusively on this blog a mere eight days ago and developed in subsequent posts. But it took the power of "Big Media" to project the story and give it that all-important "reach" that a small blog cannot achieve – significantly helped of course by James Delingpole and his MSM blog and influential independents such as Bishop Hill.

A point that emerges from that experience is that the MSM and the blogs are not in competition – there is a synergy between them. They can feed off each other and achieve things which alone they could not, as the message of each is spread through the net. This is a lesson some newspaper editors and proprietors – with their dog-in-the-manger attitude to links – could do well to take on board.

But the main lesson to emerge is of the power of the internet as an information tool. Here, from a tiny room in deepest West Yorkshire, without ever leaving the desk, one can reach out through the portal of the computer and conduct a world-wide search, ranging – as this one has done – from Copenhagen, New York and Washington, to India, China, Japan and all points between.

Used effectively, this gives the "citizen" unimaginable power. Searches that would have taken weeks and months, requiring resources beyond the scope of the individual, are now within the reach of anyone equipped with the internet and a laptop costing no more than a few hundred pounds, working out of a back room in a normal home – and they can be done in hours and days.

Business, government and even (or especially) social discourse now relies on the internet but, in so doing, they leave footprints which are difficult to hide. And, if they are there to find, we will find them. In a world dominated by vested interests and crooks like Pachauri, the internet is a tool for freedom.