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IR Working Paper 2000/3
Ann Capling and Kim Richard Nossal, ‘Death of Distance or Tyranny of Distance? The Internet, Deterritorialisation, and the Anti-Globalisation Movement in Australia’, IR Working Paper 2000/3, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, October 2000.
Much of the analysis of the anti-globalisation movement has focused on the degree to which the Internet has played a crucial role in contemporary social movements. It is commonly argued that the Internet helps create ‘virtual communities’ that use the medium to exchange information, coordinate activities, and build and extend political support. Much of the commentary on the web as a means of political mobilisation stresses the degree to which the net compresses both space and time. Equally important in this view is the deterritorialised nature of on-line protest and diminution in importance of ‘place’ in current anti-globalisation campaigns. Our examination of the anti-globalisation movement in Australia leads us to a different conclusion: while the Internet does indeed compress time, it compresses space in a different and indeed quite variable way. This paper examines the way in which Australians protested against the MAI and the WTO meetings in Seattle and shows the differences in the nature of protest in each case. We conclude that crucial to an understanding of the differences was the considerable difference in the importance of ‘place’ in each case.