At the Berglund Center we have long been interested in the relationship between the impact of the Internet and economic development . While there is no doubt that there is a relationship between these two factors, its precise nature is difficult to quantify. Continue reading →
Whether it’s waiting for delayed planes, avoiding bad movies, long cab rides from airports to hotels, or sleepless jet-lagged nights, my Amazon Kindle has more than paid for itself when traveling. It has prevented me from dying of boredom and aided me in work-related tasks I would be unable to otherwise complete. Continue reading →
The impact of the Internet upon religion has been an ongoing study for us at the Berglund Center. Here we review an important new book, Robert Glenn Howard’s Digital Jesus, which tells us a great deal about the Internet, as well as much about one specific form of religion, Protestant Fundamentalism. 
The amount of information discussing China now found online has grown considerably over the last several decades. While we hope that this growth is creating a proportionately greater understanding of China, this does not necessarily follow. Understanding China has long been a serious challenge for Westerners in general and for Americans in particular. Continue reading →
Google has brought out applications and various cloud-related services so very quickly that it is sometimes quite easy to miss them. Google’s Ngram Viewer is such an application from late 2010.
Ngram is simultaneously a service, a site, an application, and a search device—all summed up in the name “Viewer”. It surveys the many millions of books in the humanities scanned and indexed to date by Google. The Viewer permits the user to scan for strings of up to five words found in any or all of the works in a search process largely defined by the user, and in a variety of languages, too.
This is a relatively old book intended to introduce highly evangelical Christians to the use of the web as a tool for proselytism. We review it less as a book to be read by others, though it may indeed be useful to some, than for what it tells us about religion on the web.
This is the fourth and concluding editorial in a series, “Peaceful Evolution in China and the World Wide Web”.  To summarize the arguments thus far:
I have argued that a system with stable political factions functions very much like a system with two or more political parties, usually thought to be a critical element of a democratic political system, though not the only one.
In the Chinese system, consistent factions have been visible over recent years. At present, there are two important ones. First is the Tuanpai, a group associated with past leadership in the Chinese Youth League, the most dominant of Chinese mass organizations.
The second recognizable faction is the Princeling’s faction. This is less well organized than the Tuanpai. It is formed not of those who have come up via a common political path, such as leadership in the Youth League, but of those who have descended from politically powerful or wealthy families.
In the Chinese political system, both contemporary and historical, the most useful weapon wielded by factions was to charge that an opponent had violated core agreements on values, usually through personal corruption.
In this fourth and concluding article, we examine the probable successors to the two most important posts in China, the Presidency, now held by Hu Jintao, and the Premiership, now held by Wen JIaobao. We argue here that important changes are occurring in China, and that due in large part to the Internet as a conduit for Chinese popular voices, democratic interests will be much strengthened in this new era. Continue reading →
While this editorial is meant to stand alone, two related ones have preceded it.  The last of those concluded:
“Political systems, to be stable, must reflect history and culture in both their forms and functions. The American and the Chinese systems differ markedly, especially in form, but it is difficult to claim that the multiparty system is superior to a one-party system in which factions may be so prominent as to be recognizably consistent in membership and policy inclinations. Chinese history and culture is capable of producing a system which is democratic in function, is doing so at the present, and will inevitably continue do so under the impact of the Internet.” 
At that time, more than a year ago, this assertion was largely an editorial opinion. However, evidence is accumulating to support this position.  In addition, the nature of the new evidence—details of the emerging leadership in the Chinese political system—tells us a great deal more about the possibilities for Chinese democracy, and about the potential impact of the Internet in shaping those changes. Continue reading →
Nicholas Carr has become one of America’s “public intellectuals”  in that his work has become iconic for us. As that work has focused increasingly upon the impact of the Internet, he has always had much about which to write . His latest book, which should be read by everybody with a serious interest in teaching, learning, and the Internet, is The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Continue reading →
Dan Chaon (pronounced as though written Shawn) is a very highly regarded novelist, though not yet one with the popularity of the sort that will soon bring his work to the bookshelves at your local super market. Among other literary prizes he has a National Book Award nomination (for his short stories), a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award and an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Continue reading →