People now can barely live one day without the Internet. Especially right at this moment, my friends in NY are getting crazy about loosing the Internet service due to Hurricane Sandy on Path, a mobile social network. The Internet becomes indispensible. And it seems to me that the society we live in has already been embedded in the Internet. Castell’s reading proves this view of the interaction between the Internet and civil society by saying “the Internet is not simply a technology; it is a communication medium, and it is the material infrastructure of a given organizational form: the network.” The Internet, as forming the network, is a key part in modern social movements. And these social movements rely on the Internet for disseminating messages and getting people to participate. Castell offers three reasons of why nowadays “social network emerging in the network society.” First, thinking of the nature of social movements, the call for a change in cultural values (to make the public opinion aware of global warming for example) needs the Internet to serve as a medium of organizing, because of the nature of the Internet as exchange of thoughts without geographical boundaries. It provides an efficient way of mobilizing people’s consciousness of society. Second, the Internet can easily fill the gap between the acts of NGOs and the mass. Since, social movements always feature emotional appeals, they need a platform like the Internet to express such information. The dynamics of participatory audience and diversity in the network are capable of arousing debates and discussions about sensitive issues such as moral and religion. Third, given the need of globalizing social movements, the Internet supports this linkage between “local” and “global”. Most social movements root in local societies, but aim to have a global impact. The Internet, by forming interactive networks from local support and legitimacy and bringing them to the global stage, constructs a bottom-to-top system of information world. As Castell says, “the Internet provides the material basis for these movements to engage in the production of a new society.”
Castell's argument about the Internet and the politics reminds me of the “double-movement” theory by an economist named Polanyi. The “double-movement” is basically a process of while the government liberalizes the market to free competition under the "invisible hand" in order to maximize economic profits, it also builds strong regulations and policies over the free market to prevent the economy from being too liberal so that some sectors in the society that cannot be driven purely by supply and demand such as labor and money will not be put into misuse (for labor and money are not real commodities). In the case of the Internet in Singapore, the government promotes the Internet service for modernization and expansion of freedom, meanwhile it still retains power exercised on the Internet to control the communication networks for the goodness of the nation as a whole. This situation also indirectly proves how powerful the strength of people's voice could be in the public network when bringing positive or negative impacts onto a society.