Today I presented some thoughts on Henry Farrell‘s International Studies Association panel on “Transnational Politics and the Information Age.” The panel, which included Joe Nye, Dan Drezner, Marty Finnemore and Abe Newman, looked at the subject fairly broadly:
Public debates over the politics of the information age have been dominated by a battle between cyberoptimists, who believe that the Internet will lead to a fundamental transformation of social relations and cyberpessimists, who claim that the Internet will either have no effects or harmful ones. These debates partially map onto international relations arguments about the relationship between state power and globalization. Yet there is little work in international relations, which seeks to analyze the relationship between information flows and global politics. This is all the more remarkable given that information politics (whether the dissemination of sensitive government cables by Wikileaks, or the role of new media in the “Arab Spring”) seems to have direct, and sometimes dramatic consequences for central IR concerns. In this roundtable, we bring together scholars to examine in more depth the relationship between information technology and transnational politics. How has the rise of digital networks facilitated cross-border political organization or has it ultimately re-empowered the nation state? In either case, what points of variation exist in the political dynamics that have been unleashed? The distinguished participants offer a range of theoretical and empirical perspectives to this core debate concerning the relationship between information technology and global politics.
In honor of the conference theme, I uploaded my presentation to YouTube.
The discussion afterward ranged all over – topics included wikileaks, cybersecurity, pedagogy, etc. A fair amount of time was spent discussing Kony2012 though and one question that none of us really answered very well was what exactly makes videos go viral, and whether narrative structure matters. After the roundtable Michele Acouto sent me this TED video by tweet which I thought worth sharing.