Latest Media Development takes communications rights look at modern-day utopias
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Latest Media Development takes communications rights look at modern-day utopias

Two contemporary “utopias” come under communication rights scrutiny in the latest Media Development, WACC’s quarterly journal.

The issue “Utopia or Bust: In Search of Inclusion” examines the Metaverse, which seeks to combine multiple sources of information on one digital platform, and Latin America’s Pink Tide 2.0, the resurgence of a turn towards left-wing governments in democracies in the region.

Big Tech’s Metaverse

The Metaverse peddled by Big Tech is a grab for power of the digital space, argues former WIRED editor Gian M. Volpicelli, in the opening article of Media Development 1/2023.

“The ‘open Metaverse’,” a democratic and participatory virtual universe where users control their data, “is the Promised Land … a hypothetical project,” he writes. “A Metaverse built by [Big Tech] would be no Metaverse at all.”

The Metaverse as a virtual reality — a mediated world of “as if” — brings the danger of surveillance capitalism, where platform owners capture and cash in on users’ personal data, notes WACC General Secretary Philip Lee in “The Metaverse Illusion.”

“Control of these digital worlds will be in the hands of their operators. Regulation will be extremely difficult to enforce,” in a Metaverse run by corporate players, he says. The jury is still out on the direction in which the Metaverse might evolve, Lee adds, whether an “immersive and egalitarian” or “adaptable, addictive platform.”

Democratizing Media in Latin America

Latin America’s Pink Tide 2.0 offers a new opportunity to further communication rights in the region, says Lorenzo Vargas, manager of WACC’S Communication for Social Change program, in an English-language analysis of the current situation.

Here, governments need to work with civil society organizations already engaged in democratizing media ecosystems, says Vargas, and civil society should build multisector coalitions to “position communication rights as a building block of social progress.”

“Latin America has the opportunity not only to strengthen democracy but also to lead the world in progressive and inclusive media reform,” concludes Vargas.

Five articles offer Spanish-speakers the opportunity to explore in more depth communication rights in the context of Latin America’s Pink Tide 2.0.

Articles in Media Development 1/2023 include:

  • Editorial, Philip Lee
  • Big tech needs to stop trying to make their Metaverse happen, Gian M. Volpicelli
  • The Metaverse illusion, Philip Lee
  • Communication rights in Latin America in the context of a Pink Tide 2.0, Lorenzo Vargas
  • Nuevo progresismo, derecho a la comunicación y medios populares, Hugo Ramirez
  • Democratizar la comunicación: un camino aún en construcción, Gissela Dávila Cobo
  • Radios comunitarias en los 40 años de democracia en Argentina, María Cristina Cabral
  • El retorno de Lula y la esperanza de la reconstrucción del ambiente democrático, Jairo Faria Guedes Coelho
  • El derecho a la comunicación: Principios y práctica de una utopía, José Luis Aguirre Alvis
  • A 20-point agenda towards a just and sovereign digital future, Internet Ciudadana
  • Rethinking the concept of religion in a post-secular age. Peter Horsfield
  • On the screen

WACC’s international quarterly journal Media Development explores the theory and practice of communication around the world. It is free for individual and organizational WACC members. It also is available on a subscription basis.

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