This balkanization is partially driven by the lack of integration between various segments of itself, and this is primarily a technological limitation. Yet the far broader and more difficult challenge in this regard is the segregating of knowledge not just for profit, but for lasting competitive advantage between nations. On the one hand there is the need for competitive differentiation in company's offerings, yet in others including the sharing of primary research in medicine and biomedical fields and stem cell research there is the ethical responsibility to share these insights gained to foster solutions to the world's most pressing medical problems. M. Van Alstyne and E. Brynjolfsson, researchers on the growth patterns and threat of Internet balkanization from MIT, remark in their conference paper from a 1996 conference that the balkanization of science is a significant threat. The two MIT researchers cite the studies they have completed showing how despite the lowering costs of technology, many scientific professionals choose to focus only on sharing their results locally, and resist publishing the data to other professionals in other companies and cultures due to fear of duplication and also fear their financial bonuses for discovery will be negated and taken away. Corporations funding scientific research need to be held to a specific level of accountability to share the results if they are going to benefit mankind and in turn strengthen the collective assumption base that could lead to medical cures. This balkanization of the Internet when it comes to scientific discoveries could be holding back cures for some of the worlds' most troubling diseases and medical problems.
While the balkanization of the Internet is unnecessarily slowing down the adoption of scientific discoveries that could lead to the eradication of the world's most dreaded diseases, there are also the societal implications of an increasingly segregated and balkanized Internet. These societal implications are shown in online ethnocentric behavior that actually robs many of the world's developing nations with the potential of finding a voice in the world's democratic voice. This societal balkanization of the Internet is exemplified for example in the access costs for the typical family in Zimbabwe to gain access to the Internet. It is on average $500 for six months of access, and that must be purchased through neighboring country South Africa. The fact that many Internet Access Providers will not route broadband service into entire nations in Africa shows the growing digital divide occurring globally. This is clearly robbing millions of individuals with a chance to have their voice heard, gain education through online universities, and in general become members of the global community. The economics of gaining access to the Internet continues to be a major contributing factor to its balkanization as well.
The balkanization of the Internet has already made the vision of intellectual sharing, democracy and communitarianism unattainable unfortunately. As can be seen from the lack of research sharing and focus on collectively finding cures to the world's medical challenges, massive digital divide internationally, and the focus on many societal factors including segregation and ethnocentric practices of nations, the utopian vision of the Internet revolutionizing global society will not be achieved as quickly and transparently as had once been hoped.
Despite this lack of development, there is the fact that more people than ever are getting their educations online through distance learning. In defining distance learning its' best to look at what industry experts have to share in terms of insight. Sloan Consortium (2005) in its landmark report, Growing By Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005 explored the definition of distance learning from the standpoint of participation. Of their many key findings, a critical one is that distance learning today is reaching parity in terms of participation with in-person programs, which is turn making this alternative to gaining an education more accessible to other nations that may have fallen between countries caught in the balkanization of the Internet.
Quantification of trust
While the balkanization of the Internet at times showing signs of being unified through the many efforts of both organizations and nations looking to provide access and educational opportunities to everyone, the rise in scepticism of peoples' motives on the Internet continues to bring greater and greater levels of authentication or validation of proving someone is who they say they are. This validation or quantification of trust has actually hastened the balkanization of the Internet as well. The rise in the corporate use of the Internet as a selling medium has more than any other factor driven up the need to validate someone within any given online community. There has been a parallel in the combating of terrorism as well and the two combined market dynamics of validating a person's identity both for selling to them and ensuring they are not a national threat has created a more balkanized and virtually re-defined the role of this medium as more of a transaction hub for global businesses and less of an instrument for social change. The evolving role of the Internet in China and the recent crackdown on Google's and Yahoo's records by the Chinese government show that even the world's most powerful corporations from a market capitalization perspective are still held hostage to governments' aims and intents with the Internet, and in the case of China their focus on restricting the freedoms inherent in this powerful medium, chilling to realize. China clearly is showing what the balkanization of the Internet looks like on a daily basis.
Orwellian Monitoring Strategies in the 21st Century
George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) a political novel set in that year defines a totalitarian state that is dominated by excessive monitoring and control of its citizens, has been often referred to in the last three years of Internet monitoring, both by employers, governments, and by marketers who unethically look at search histories and cookies or small files that define where a person using the Internet has accessed files and used information. Taken together, these invasions of privacy are in many cases violating the civil rights of online citizens worldwide in the name of defense. Yet the workplace and government monitoring is troublesome in that revelations of how the data is being used and mined come out periodically through either press leaks from inside governments or the data is inadvertently lost or worse, stolen. This monitoring issue speaks to the fundamental role of government and corporations who capture this data; they must become the trusted advisors, the servants if you will, to the people they sell and serve. To violate this trust repeatedly is to test the ethics of any nation. To play with peoples' trust is to play with the future of any administration or corporation; the future of any institution is marked by the trust it earns and keeps with those it serves.
Government and Workplace Monitoring
Many researchers are tackling the issues of workplace and government monitoring head-on, and finding some fascinating results. Foremost of these researchers is the Pew Internet & American Life Project, headquartered in Washington, D.C. Their insights into Internet social trends specifically around privacy and its recent invasions by government, completed the report, The Future of the Internet (2005) which polled the world's experts, totalling 1,286 individuals who are considered experts in this field globally on Internet privacy trends, and their results are startling. Their findings include the following key points:
59% of the Internet privacy experts predict that more government and corporate surveillance in homes, automobiles, mass transit, and in offices as hand-held electronic devices proliferate.
The majority feel that the ability of governments to parse through Internet traffic including e-mails, chat rooms, and websites to find terrorists will be accentuated through the use of sophisticated technologies. The tagging of paedophiles is also seen as a major benefit of this increased surveillance.
The strengths of these surveillance strategies on the part of governments and corporations will correspondingly have a negative effect on society as anyone "different" enough to be found through these search and eavesdropping technologies could potentially be tagged as a threat. The result could be imprisoning innocent citizens who have not violated any crime and are not terrorists.
The fact that surveillance of terrorists is a critical government function to alleviate the loss of innocent life, there are many civil rights associated with these activities, and the need for retaining the rights of individuals is critical. Protecting citizens and preserving their privacy is a delicate balancing act from the U.S. And Great Britain especially today.
Corporations' monitoring their employees are sending the signal that the personal use of telephones, cell phones, PDAs, and e-mails is fair game to be monitored and reviewed.…