Cyberspace as a means of equality?

Today in class we had a discussion about whether or not cyberspace was inherently liberating. At one point, someone mentioned that the internet gives the ability for everyone to be equal, as long as they learn English. That’s a pretty huge assumption, though. Just making that statement implies that there is something inherently superior about the English language (and by the same measure, something inferior about other languages). I’m reminded of a recent discussion in my French class where we talked about the difficulties involved in finding information online in foreign languages, since approximately 90% of the information on the internet is in English and English has become the lingua franca of the web. It seems pretty apparent to me that it is an incredible disadvantage to be a non-native speaker of English when dealing with cyberspace.

Published in: on February 5, 2009 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Basic Turkey/Armenia background

This article provides a very brief overview of the historical and current tensions between Turkey and Armenia (http://uk.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUKLT593745).

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Talks between Turkey and Armenia could yield a roadmap for relations between the two countries if Yerevan shows a ‘sincere’ attitude, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

Turkey and Armenia have no formal diplomatic relations but officials from the two sides have expressed hopes of restoring full diplomatic relations as a result of recent tentative discussions between the two sides.

“If Armenia displays a sincere behaviour in the low-level work, after our talks last night, today’s talks may somehow set out a roadmap,” Erdogan said in Davos in comments to reporters broadcast on Turkish television channels.

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has held talks at the World Economic Forum with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian and Erdogan was set to hold talks with Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan on Thursday evening.

Relations between the two countries have been haunted by the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War One, which ex-Soviet Armenia says amounted to genocide. Ankara denies there was genocide.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in a show of solidarity with Azerbaijan, a Turkic-speaking ally which was fighting Armenian-backed separatists over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Armenia should show the necessary understanding,” Erdogan said.

“On the subject of Nagorno-Karabakh, we can never leave Azerbaijan on its own. Our subject is linked to Azerbaijan,” he added.

For full coverage, blogs and TV from Davos go to www.reuters.com/davos (Writing by Daren Butler)

I’ve done some extremely preliminary research about the extent to which ordinary Turks and Armenians communicate using new media. I’ve not yet found much evidence of communication between bloggers or between commenters on blogs, but there is a degree of communication amongst Facebook users. There is a Facebook group called “Peace For Armenia and Turkey” that currently has about 1,400 members and some fairly lively discussion boards. Group members appear to be mostly Turks and Armenians, or members of those countries’ diasporas. Of course, there is another group called “Recognize Armenia as the Liar” with about 1,100 members. Memers are mostly Turkish or of Turkish descent, and all are dedicated to denying that the Armenian genocide occurred. On the other side is a group called simply “Armenia” (about 2,700 members) that is dedicated to getting offical recognition of the genocide.

I definitely plan on doing more research and following more blogs, so hopefully I’ll be able to find more evidence of communication and dialogue between Turks and Armenians who use the relative freedom of the internet as a tool for discussion. Although I have no evidence to back this up, I would imagine that the internet would be incredibly useful, especially given the restrictions on ordinary media in both countries.

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 5:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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