Exploiting Interconnectedness: Hegemony and Holy War on the World Wide Web
The World Wide Web (WWW), a medium already saturated with commercial propaganda, remains the target of governmental and corporate attempts to constrain its architecture and regulate its content. Despite this reality, some insist that the Web continues to provide a space wherein the voices of formerly marginalized groups and interests are able to compete with “authoritative” sources of information in a manner which was previously unimaginable. Such reasoning takes its most sophisticated form in the work of Mark Poster, who contends that Internet technology possesses attributes inherently destabilizing to relations of power associated with organized capitalism and to modernist discourses traditionally tied to state power. This may be illustrated with specific regards to hypertext, the “author-less” character of which allows for the endless re-signification and incorporation of Web-based texts within the narratives of countless Web-users/authors. In this presentation I will offer evidence to suggest that the Web’s anarchic qualities may ultimately serve to reinforce rather than diminish the rhetorical force of dominant media discourses - in this case those serving to legitimate American foreign policy objectives. Paradoxically, this reinforcement of hegemonic discourse depends upon Web dynamics which also appear to benefit “extremist” groups in limited, though significant ways. These points will be elaborated by focusing upon ideological struggles surrounding the Arab/Israeli conflict as a case in point, and by drawing attention to the role played by interconnectedness on the Web with respect to competing organizations and interests which differ markedly in terms of their respective world views and access to traditional political and media institutions.