Pushing the Envelope - The War from Any Angle

Yesterday, President Bush announced that "the regime of Saddam Hussein has passed into history", marking the end of the War in Iraq which commenced less than a month ago.

This month's 'Pushing the Envelope' article focuses on the role of the internet in disseminating information, news and propaganda during this, the most reported on war in history.

Ranging from recognised media outlets through to individual personal accounts of the event, and incorporating features like interactive maps and SMS alerts, these sources of news and information cover the full spectrum of recording this event as it continues to evolve into the future.

The Sydney Morning Herald - www.smh.com.au - contains a rich source of stories and graphics, and importantly has a series of Perspective stories written by reporters on the ground in Iraq. Rather than just publishing material about events that are happening, they let you know about the vibe on the street, and they update their site regularly during the day.

The Telegraph from London, England - www.telegraph.co.uk - Not as well known as the BBC but certainly provides a broadsheets perspective on the conflict. The English people reacted the most strongly in terms of size of protests and crossing the floor on the parliament. The views that you can read about here are intriguing due to the political landscape in the UK at the moment.

Time Magazine - www.time.com - this site features an outstanding array of graphics and stories from the United States. Time is outstanding as it provides all the articles one would find in the weekly magazine online. The quality of the graphics and maps that they use is really second to none and provides any reader with a depth of information that can only enhance your understanding - you get a real feeling for the lie of the land instead of just getting a litany of strange names and battles read out. Time is also unusual for a US media outlet since the editorials tend to question the president. Good, thorough reporting, or a bias towards the Democratic Party? Have a read and decide for yourself.

Cable News Network - www.cnn.com - Focused more on the breaking news angle rather than in depth analysis of the implications. If you have a rocket fast Internet connection, cancel your cable television account, sit back, dim the shades and start watching reality war TV on your computer through online streaming. With embedded reporters scattered across the countryside, CNN provides you with a feast of rumour and possibility, much of which is later corrected. It's all about the breaking news at CNN.

Al Jazeera - www.aljazeera.net - the Arabic answer to CNN became famous as a network since the terrorist attacks in New York City. Also featuring an English language version of the site at www.english.aljazeera.net, this site is a must for anyone who wants to form an opinion after hearing both sides of a debate. In the Arabic only section,
check out the cartoons - you don't need to speak Arabic to get the point in most of these. In a quick straw poll around the office, no one had ever seen a website deployed in Arabic before, so check it out for that reason alone.

Personal Accounts: Blogging - Web Logging, or Blogging for short, is where individuals can publish logs or the internet equivalent of a journal/diary, except Blogging is public. Providing what is usually a very personal account of events with time/date stamps and the ability to include images, Blogging is becoming a bit of a revolution. There was no Blogger more famous than Salam Pax, who published a column from inside Baghdad in the weeks leading up to and including the start of the War. You can read his insightful column at http://dearraeder.blogspot.com and join the millions of other users around the world who wonder why this anonymous Iraqi has not posted a Blog for a few weeks now.

In conclusion there is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way individuals can gain information. Concerned that the news channel you watch or the paper you read maybe supporting or slanting towards one opinion? If truth is the first casualty in War, perhaps the way to get a better appreciation of the facts is to balance the viewpoints with multiple and often opposing attitudes. The Internet allows you to be a thinker and make your own judgments. Flick around the editorials of the world and be informed like never before. Another example of the internet pushing the envelope of our lives rather than just technology.

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