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The east-Timor newsgroup and progressive social change

Charles Stewart
University of Leicester
Charles Stewart
University of Leicester
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper proposes that despite the fact that corporate and institutional interests appear to dominate it, the Internet is an adaptable, incremental and potentially communal communications tool, constituting a dynamic and complex space, in which radical democratic movements can construct and experiment with new social practices. This premise is considered through analysis taken from the Internet newsgroup east-timor. east-timor is an online newsgroup that works to support self determination for East Timor, through the monitoring, tracking and interpreting of ‘news’ on political and social events in East Timor. east-timor seeks to widen East Timor’s profile, away from the restrictive and exclusive traditional media agenda, to access and engender public awareness and mobilise and educate support on behalf of, and as a key distinction, due to the lack of the indigenous resistance’s own global platform. Conclusions are drawn from three case studies of east-timor, and examine the ‘everyday’ efficacy of Internet newsgroups for the progressive purposes of social change. Exploring how as discursive online communities, newsgroups: - • Provide an effective means for individuals to debate, educate and mobilise trans-nationally • Constitute a very specific phenomenon that betokens a new play of power, a new dialectics of global resistance and a new configuration of politics • Endeavour to overcome the geographical and socio-political limitations of those who inhabit real life diasporic spaces. east-timor is appraised for its proficiency to explore new fields of play through the use of the technologies and spaces opened up by globalisation, affording a highly differentiated world of resistance, conflict and uncertainty, where dynamics have not rigidified and new strategies are possible. The results collated determine that Internet newsgroups are able to assist, influence, shape and extend the possibilities of social change and participatory politics in global media use, specifically in terms of representation, activity and agency.