Saturday, July 12, 2008

President Lee says "We Must Guard Against Infodemics"

In his address to the recently convened National Assembly, President Lee Myung Bak stated that "We must guard against infodemics." President Lee was not the first to use the term "infodemic." A quick Google search shows that it has been used by representatives of international organizations with reference to saturation news coverage of disasters. The Korea Times published a full English-translation of President Lee's speech to the National Assembly. The portion of his speech dealing with "infodemics" went as follows: "An advanced society is characterized by the dominance of rationality and civic virtues. A society rampant with excessive emotional behavior, disorderliness and rudeness cannot be called an advanced society by any measure. In this connection, we have to guard against "infodemics," a phenomenon in which inaccurate, false information is disseminated, prompting social unrest that spread like epidemics. It is about time we began to firmly respect and understand each other better and extend generosity and thoughtfulness to other people. Generosity and thoughtfulness are instrumental to overcoming the age of confrontation and divisiveness and forging ahead with the age of harmony and partnership. society." What President Lee left unsaid, but which is clearly implied by the term "infodemic" is the manner in which information spreads so rapidly via the internet and new mobile networks. This is the "six degrees of separation" phenomenon that is such a powerful factor in South Korea's emerging political culture and was touched on in an earlier post in this blog.

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