[Singapore] Recentralize the net
A bloggers' association will be launched in Singapore. This non-profit association "aims to raise the profile of bloggers and promote, protect as well as educate its members". The association has also received media invites to cover events.
To me, this effort is one that tries to recentralize the net. The decentralized net has excited many people as it may refuse one authority, one perspective, or one voice. Netizens are connected through a loosely organized network, which is in contrast to both the hierarchical structure and the market structure. Different from the rigid structure of hierarchy, there are no fixed centers in networks. Collective action may emerge from anywhere as long as the causes it advocates attract enough people. What is often ignored is the difference between the market structure and the network structure. Free market is supposed to be totally decentralized. Buyers and sellers get in touch with each us purely based on needs and offers. The price system, according to Sunstein (see Infotopia), is the only mechanism that connects actors in market. Network is thus situated between market and hierarchy. Although Sunstein entertains the idea of using a price system to organize online behaviors (e.g., the reputation system on ebay or the recommendation system on myspace), netizens engage in other fashions, as much as if not more, in the market fashion. Look at facebook.
The point is, the net has never been completely decentralized. Rather, it seems to support different modes of interaction if we look at different applications. Various efforts try to make the net even more centralized. Bloggers' association is one. It creates convenience for the government to address bloggers as one section of constituency as if they share a common interest. It also provides a touch point for the commercial forces to access the mysterious and invisible internet users.
One may argue that it is impossible to put all bloggers into one association because there are millions of them. It is like having an association of voters. However, I think it is possible if we define bloggers as those netizens who express a public appeal to the rights of being bloggers. Political activists are always few compared to the silent majority. In a small country like Singapore, it may not be that hard to organize blogger activists into one association. The last question is, do all blogger activists in Singapore want to join? See this...
Association of Bloggers (Singapore) : Singabloodypore
Update: Feb 03, 2009
I now actually expect to see a successful collective action among bloggers. Whether it has to take the format of association, I am not sure. But the news piece below really shows the key problem of this association. Whether it has a cause that alludes bloggers and a structure that fits the way blogsphere is organized.
I am an Associate Professor at Department of Communication and New Media, National University of Singapore.