Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

2003

Conference Name

Western Political Science Association

Conference City

Denver

Abstract

The only distance that matters in communication is the distance involved in sending a signal up and then down. The close connection between communication and transportation has been broken. Near and far -- familiar and unfamiliar -- can be constituted by communication. The rhythm of day and night, as it moves around the globe, remains. We can watch a war in Iraq in real time -- except that we are asleep and can wait until we awake to watch the battles. But the images and sounds are just as real as if they were just over the horizon. And that is what they are. Contemporary communication has put everywhere just over the horizon.

We have, however, traded one constraint for another. Transportation, or distance, is no longer a constraint on communication. But there is the constraint of finitude. News broadcasters have only twenty-four minutes in which to report the happenings of the world. They have no difficulty reporting about an earthquake in Turkey, a war in Iraq, an earthquake in the mountains of Afghanistan or a meeting of political leaders in Kyrgyzstan. They do have to shoe horn it into only twenty-four minutes. And that produces a new geography -- the geography of global communication. Which nations are familiar and which are not? Which subjects are familiar and which are not? The answer is given by the broadcasters' conception of importance to a global audience operating under the constraint of twenty-four minutes.

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