The following is a condensed version of a presentation on trends in global communication given by International Press Institute (IPI) Board Member Linus Gitahi, CEO of the Nation Media Group in Kenya, at the International Institute of Communications (IIC) Annual Conference 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa on 3 October.

Trends In Global Communication: Making Digital Society A Universal Reality

What is Digital Society?

Digital society is the result of a dramatic restructuring of political, economic, and cultural space through the use of new tools of communication.  Global computer networks have made borders between people and goods more fluid and dynamic and have enlarged these to a transnational scale.

Furthermore, the need to find new strategies for executing corporate and political domination has resulted in a restructuring of capitalism itself.  This new “global network capitalism” is characterized by the emergence of transnational, networked spaces in the economic, political, and cultural system and has been mediated by cyberspace as a tool of global coordination and communication.

Digital Society and the Global Public Sphere

The global public sphere is built around media communication systems and Internet networks, particularly the social spaces of Web 2.0 such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere.

Challenges to Achieving a Perfect Digital Society

A number of challenges stand in the way of achieving a ‘perfect’ digital society.  These include balancing liberty with security, transparency with confidentiality, and free expression with tolerance.

Digital Content

Earlier models of content distribution followed a simple path from producer to consumer.  In a digital society, the model is more complex, with content flowing both from producer to consumer and from consumer to producer.

Content in a digital society is characterised by its open-source nature, its functionality and ease of use, its interoperability, and its allowance of parallel access.

Case Study: The BBC Virtual Archive

The BBC is currently assessing the public value of a project that would create a site from which its archives can be downloaded by users in possession of a licence.  This licence would then enable users to use the material for non-commerical purposes.


In the context of digital society, convergence concerns the trend toward seamless access to different kinds of content in hardware devices; the adaptation of digital content to multiple platforms; and the multi-purpose application of technological platforms.

Regulation of Digital Society

Regulating digital society requires reconsidered norms.  A good digital regulatory policy will need to be comprehensive, consistent, inclusive, adaptive, incentivized, transparent, and backed by political will.

To view Linus Gitahi’s full speech, in two parts, at the IIC Conference, please click on the following links: