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Author: Merlyna Lim1
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  • 1 Arizona State University
Open Access

A. Yogaswara, The power of facebook: Gerakan 1,000,000 facebookers. Yogyakarta: Mediakom, 2010, 160 pp. ISBN 9788771028.

Abuh Muhammad Waskito, Wajah salafi ekstrem di dunia internet: Propaganda salafi ekstrem di dunia internet. Bandung: Ad Difa’ Press, 2009, viii + 163 pp.

Achmad Desmon Asiku, Cybersex: Finally exposed. Jakarta: Mahenjo Daro Publishing, 2005, xvii +234 pp. ISBN 9792500006.

Akbar Kaelola, Black hacker vs. white hacker: Kisah para hacker jenius-gila dengan reputasi dunia dan hackers Indonesia. Yogyakarta: MediaKom, 2010, 128 pp. ISBN 9798770932.

Barda Nawawi Arief, Pornografi, pornoaksi dan cyberporn. Semarang: Penerbit Pustaka Magister, 2007, xii + 98 pp. ISBN 9789790971594059.

Dikdik M. Arief Mansur and Elisastris Gultom Cyber Law: Aspek hukum teknologi informasi. Bandung: Refika Aditama, 2009. [First edition, 2005].

Ellis Lestari Pambayun, Birahi Maya: Mengintip perempuan di cyberporn. Bandung: Nuansa Cendekia, 2010, 332 pp. ISBN: 9786028394291.

Feri Sulianta, Cyberporn: Bisnis atau kriminal. Jakarta: Elex Media, 2010, vii + 184 pp. ISBN 9789792792287.

Sony Set, 500 + Gelombang video porno: Jangan bugil di depan kamera! Yogyakarta: Penerbit Andi, 2007, viii + 200 pp. ISBN 9789792901474.

Sulistyo, H. Sutanto and T. Sugiarso (eds), Cybercrime, motif dan penindakan. Jakarta: Lembaga pendidikan dan latihan kepolisian Negara Republik Indonesia, 2005, 324 pp. ISBN 9789793622125.

Teddy Suratmadji, Habib Setyawan, Munawir Yamin and Robi Nurhadi, Dakwah di dunia cyber: Panduan praktis berdakwah melalui internet. Jakarta: Madani Institute, 2010, 96 pp. ISBN 9786029829600.

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In July 2012, the Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information, Tifatul Sembiring, declared that the government had shut down one million websites in view of the Islamic holy month of Ramadhan. This was in addition to another one million sites the ministry claimed to have blocked back in February 2012. Minister Sembiring, a politician from the Islamic-based Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (Prosperous Justice Party, PKS), said that his staff would continue blocking access to online pornography beyond the holy month.

Online censorship is not new in Indonesia. In recent years, the government has increased their control of content they deem inappropriate, such as pornography and sites deemed anti-Islamic. It was advanced both through legal and regulatory means and by blocking and filtering in partnership with local ISPs and internet cafes. The Indonesian government has drafted a number of laws to regulate content on the internet. In 2008, the government passed a Cyber Law, the Electronic Information and Transactions (Undang-undang Informasi dan Transaksi Elektronik, UU-ITE) Law that was originally designed to protect electronic business transactions. The law’s vague definition of defamation, however, lends itself to be easily used against individuals and groups who express opinions on the internet and through social media. The same year, the controversial 2008 Pornography Law was also passed to criminalize any sex-related material deemed to violate public morality. The same year also saw the government’s first attempt to technically regulate online content by ordering all ISPs to temporarily ban video-sharing websites in a bid to prevent the dissemination of ‘Fitna’, an anti-Islamic movie by the Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. In November 2009, the same method was used to prevent Indonesians from accessing blogs that contained cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad deemed offensive.

In June 2010, the surfacing of two homemade sex videos of one of the country’s top celebrities—popularly known as Peterporn scandal—triggered a crackdown on online pornography. To further extend its control over the internet, included mobile internet content, in January 2011 the government successfully forced Research in Motion—the operator of Blackberry’s server—to work with local carriers in blocking pornographic sites on its smart-phones, and to comply with the country’s anti-pornographic law. Anxieties over inappropriate access to online content are commonly expressed not only among the officials. Religious authorities, such as the Islamic Council (Majelis Muslim Indonesia), frequently refer to inappropriate online content as a harmful tool that degrades the morality of the nation. Indeed, most of the debates around content regulation are framed around public morality and the regulation of the ‘excesses’ of the information society. Unsurprisingly, as reflected in this review essay, the books about the internet published in the Indonesian language also revolve around these same issues.

Cyberporn

There are eleven books included in this review.1 Cyber pornography, or cyberporn, is centrally discussed in five out of the eleven books and is inevitably the most dominant theme in the selection. The first book on the subject is Delik kesusilaan: Pornografi, pornoaksi dan cybersex-cyberporn (Moral offenses: Pornography, porno-action,2 cybersex-cyberporn) written by law professor Barda Nawawi Arief. Throughout the book the author seeks to criminalize pornography from the perspective of penal policy (laws on criminality). In pursuing his objective, first, the author sets up a causal relationship between pornography and crime by citing a number of supporting studies that conclude that pornography is a contributing factor in the increase of crime and of itself is a great danger to society. Second, the author employs various national and international legal frameworks to justify this criminalization. Using the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, or Undang-Undang Dasar 1945 (usually referred to as UUD ’45), Arief argues that individual freedom should adhere to basic principles of the nation-state which primarily emphasize moral and religious values—as outlined in the first principle of Pancasila (the official philosophical foundation of the state)—and are guided by the fundamental values of humanism, democracy, nationalism, and justice. In reference to an individual freedom, the author contends that porn-related activities reflect a type of freedom that is wild and without purpose. Such freedom, in his opinion, is not aligned with Pancasila’s principles, and should not be protected by UUD ’45. The author strengthens his line of reasoning by referencing the United Nation’s statements on ‘The prevention of crime and the treatment of offender’ (which actually focuses specifically on criminalizing child pornography rather than porn per se) and research that shows a correlation between cyberporn and various aspects of life, that is, the increase of rapes.

In the second book, Cyberporn: Bisnis atau kriminal (Cyberporn: Business or crime), the subject is portrayed as a product of entertainment industry resulting from globalization, modernization, and technological development in society. The author, Feri Sulianta, believes that this process is unavoidable and has forced industrial and technological products to become a part of contemporary society. Sulianta, however, warns readers that cyberporn is distinctive if compared to other technological artifacts, due to its apparent ‘violation’ of social and cultural values. The author mentions that he does not attempt to question whether cyberporn is morally acceptable or not, instead, the book is meant to provide a deeper knowledge on cyberporn industry. Nonetheless, all the way through the book, the author puts forward the argument that cyberporn is not only part of the entertainment industry, but is also a true embodiment of ‘negative excesses’ of technological development. By so doing, as reflected in the title of the book, Sulianta positions cyberporn in the intersection of ‘business’ (industrial product) and ‘crime’.

In Cybersex: Finally exposed, Achmad Desmon Asiku presents an opening through which we can see a glimpse of a vast, wide, and wild world of cybersex. Claiming to have spent thousands hours exploring sexual content online, the author builds his observation on a self-exploration in the world of adult entertainment online and a number individual accounts on their cybersex experiences. In the beginning of the book, Asiku cites two distinctive opinions. The first opinion comes from an activist Dita Indah Sari who views pornography as a form of exploitation (of women) by capitalistic industry and is rooted in sexism, and, yet, sees sexuality as a private matter that should neither be ruled, controlled, and labeled as taboo. The second one comes from an anonymous Buddhist monk who perceives pornography as neutral; it can be good or bad depending on its usage. Positioning himself with reference to these two opinions, the author takes a pragmatic stance and suggests that adult pornographic consumption is acceptable, as part of entertainment and life experiences. Yet, paradoxically, the author supports government’s attempts to regulate pornography and the internet in general. In the rest of the book, various stories of cyberporn related experiences are narrated descriptively, at times, dramatically and sensationally. With his pragmatic approach, Asiku casually paints a colorful picture of the cyberporn world, with activities ranging from what are considered ‘ordinary’ to those he deems unimaginable, repulsive, and even insane (gila). While trying to avoid any direct moral and cultural scrutiny, the author cannot help but labeling cyberporn with disapproving attributes, such as the underground zone, dark side of the internet, a forbidden online area, and a black world.

The fourth book, 500+: Gelombang video porno: Jangan bugil di depan kamera! (500+: The wave of porn videos: No nudity in front of a camera!) by Sony Set, does not offer any distinctive argument. This book, too, explicitly denounces pornography as a cause of moral decay, especially among Indonesian youths. What sets this book apart from the others is that it offers an empirical account on the current state of video pornography in Indonesia. The account is exemplified by a descriptive narrative of the development of electronic pornography in Indonesia beginning in the 1980s with the surfacing of American made ‘blue films’ (a slang term for pornographic films) in the form of video cassettes (VHF and Betamax) and followed by the emergence of domestic pornographic films in the early 1990s. According to the author, the first wave of local (‘made in Indonesia’) pornographic VCD, especially amateurish ones, started in early 2000. It was propelled by the availability of MPEG technology, where pornographic videos could be converted to VCDs and transmitted digitally. However, the biggest spurt to amateurish pornographic videos came with the advent of the internet, digital cameras, and, especially, camera phones. In addition to the historical background, the author also presents some useful statistical data on global online pornography. The richness of the data, however, cannot be found beyond this initial historical and statistical background. The rest of the text has shifted from being empirically based to the normative one. For example, in Chapter 5, where the author presents the results of his investigation of 500 local pornographic videos, discussions of the morality of the makers and the consumers dominate the text and there is very little substantial discussion on the materiality of the videos themselves. In the end, the author fully directs the conversation to one premise: ‘we must fight pornography’. He closes the book with an invitation to pledge, ‘Raise your hand, friend! Let’s promise, no nudity in front of a camera! For our own future and for a better Indonesia’ (p. 189).

So far we have seen four books on cyberporn, all written by male authors, and all have one common problem. None of the authors give readers any space to reflect and think critically about the subject. All are pretty adamant on their judgments and paint a simplified portrait of human sexuality on the internet. Pornography, online and offline, is a form of sexual objectification where the objects are, by and large, women. Ironically, none of these books discuss any implications the phenomenon has had on women.

The fifth book of this theme is an exception. Entitled Birahi maya: Mengintip perempuan di cyberporn (Virtual sexual desire: ‘Peeking’ women in cyberporn), this book is written by a female author Ellys Lestari Pambayun who uses feminist approaches in discussing eroticism in cyberspace. Various approaches, theories, and concepts, such as Berstein’s critical approach to reveal realities, are referred to and cited throughout the book to connect the cyberporn phenomenon with the history of male domination. Quoting Gurevitch (1992) and Mosco (1996), Pambayun points out that the internet was used by capitalists as an instrument for class domination where commoditization takes place to turn women into commodities. It is important to note here that the internet was originally designed for very different purposes than for commercial and economic transaction. Launched in 1969, the internet was a brainchild of the U.S. Department of Defense’s experiment in wide-area-networking that would survive a nuclear war. Yet, in its development, today, while the internet is certainly still a very important communication medium for non-commercial activities world wide, the technology has transformed into the hub of global commercial activity that grounds the information economy. Pambayun also sees the internet as being dominated by a macho power where women are objectified to strengthen and commemorate the macho man image. Even though comparing this more scholarly book to other previous books is like comparing apples and oranges, it is obvious that this book is more critical and analytical. While not offering original or new analysis, the author should be applauded for her effort in mapping and weaving together a variety of critical analyses of sexuality online, especially rare for reviews written in Indonesian. The book would benefit from further data driven analysis that might yield original theoretical and/or conceptual insights that reflect the Indonesian context. Worthy of note is the last part of the book, the appendices, which consists of transcriptions of various interviews with cyberporn users, producers, and (feminist) observers. This raw material contains a large amount of personal accounts that are rich, illustrative, full of nuances, and, unquestionably, deserving of further analysis.

The internet is relatively new. Pornography is not. While in practice pornography is not easy to define, as a visual representation of human sexuality it can be traced back as far back as any sign of civilization. Throughout history pornography has evolved and developed, but nothing can be compared to the degree to which pornography has grown in the last decade—in production, consumption, and distribution—due to the advancement of global informational networks. The advent of the internet makes erotic images more available than ever. Admittedly, there are some aspects of cyberporn that are absolutely harmful, such as child pornography and the exploitation of women by the sex industry. However, criminalizing cyberporn and blaming it as a chief cause of moral decay in society only leads us to an incomplete understanding and might hinder us from gaining a better grasp of its complexity. Furthermore, this line of reasoning to justify the state’s attempts to regulate, control, and censor the internet is simply dismissing the rights and sovereignty of individuals. What the state should or should not do about pornography, its producers, consumers, and distributors, must not be decided merely on an over-simplified moral evaluation of the impacts of cyberporn in society. Rather, it should consider not only whether the regulation of sexually explicit materials would really result in desirable outcomes (many studies say otherwise), but also how such regulation may generate a collision of values and even infringe civil rights. Or else, it might embody a coercive nature of the politics of porn, which, every so often ‘is less about the struggle to balance individual freedom and social harm than an effort by one group to impose its moral taboos on everyone else’ (Smith 1999: 723).

Cyberlaw and Cybercrimes

The sixth and seventh books focus on another ‘dark side’ of the internet, namely cybercrime. In their book Cybercrime, motif dan penindakan (Cyber crime, Reason, and Action), Hermawan Sulistyo, Sutanto, and Tjuk Sugiarto look at cybercrime from the perspective of their institution, the Indonesian National Police Force. The first chapter starts with an introduction on information technology development and how it produces negative excesses such as cybercrime. The subsequent chapters provide explanations of various types of cybercrime, including the economic and legal dimensions of cybercrime. Pointing out to the high incidents of credit card frauds, e-banking scams, and other e-commerce related crimes committed by Indonesian internet users, chapter by chapter the authors argue that cybercrime poses a real threat to the Indonesian economy. Emphasizing its high rate among Indonesians, the authors believe that without any act of policing in cyberspace, cybercrime will isolate Indonesia from global financial system where e-commerce plays a central role. The authors, therefore, argue for the need of cyber law and legal enforcement in cyberspace.

Another book on this theme is entitled Cyber law: Aspek hukum teknologi informasi (Cyber law: Legal aspect of information technology) by Dikdik M. Arief Mansur, who is also associated with the National Police Force, and Elisatris Gultom. The authors rightly point out that cyberspace is the mirror of ‘real’ space. Consequently, criminal activities that are part of real life have also transpired online. They believe that online versions of these unlawful activities are even more damaging than those of the real world. Hence, Arief Mansur and Gultom, too, urge the government to immediately establish the national Cyber Law and officially enforce it in cyberspace.

While working from slightly different angles, these two books essentially pursue an identical argument. It might not be a coincidence that both books are associated with individuals from the National Police Force and published only months before the Cyber Law bill (RUU-ITE, Rancangan Undang-Undang Informasi dan Transaksi Elektronik) was proposed in 2006. Moreover, one of the authors of these books, Elisatris Gultom, was himself one of the authors of the bill. These books might as well be written as part of sosialisasi, a socializing process, of the Cyber Law bill from the government to the general public. As such, the authors purposely distance themselves from exploring what consequences, including unintended ones, and drawbacks the Cyber Law might bring about such as how the law might be misused to handle libel/defamation and curb the freedom of expression. Not dissimilar to those on cyberporn, these books, too, present a very partial portrayal of cybercrime and cyberlaw. Driven by their inherent agenda—to justify the need for national Cyber Law—these books pursue the lines of argument that are based on risk assessment and assumptions rather than realities. In his book Cybercrimes and the Internet, David Wall (2001) describes that cybercrimes encompass various criminal and/or harmful activities that are varied in their levels of impact. Many of the behaviours that have been identified as cybercrimes are not even actual crimes but, instead, call upon civil remedies (Wall 2001: 2). He argues that it is important to ‘disaggregate these levels of impact because they each invoke different policy responses and require quite different bodies of understanding’ (Wall 2001: 3). Further, cybercrimes also involve ‘a range of activities and behaviors rather than specific offences [that reflect] not only bodies of law but also specific courses of public debate’ (Wall 2001: 3). In actuality, due to a lack of statistics and visibility of the victims, and the under-reporting of offences, the factual impact of cybercrimes is difficult to assess. The public debate over cybercrimes, as also reflected in these two books, mostly relies on media sensitization that is escalating public uproars and thus providing the authorities with a rationalization for taking action (Wall 2001: 10).

Islamic Dakwah and Salafism

In our networked society, just like other aspects of our life, religious life extends onto the internet. Stephen O’Leary, one of the first scholars to analyze the role of the internet for religious communities, parallels the internet to the invention of the printing press in its revolutionary impact on religious growth and dissemination (O’Leary 1996). The next two books reviewed below are concerned with such impacts and enter the discussion from two opposite viewpoints: the optimist and the pessimist. The first one is Dakwah di dunia cyber: Panduan praktis berdakwah melalui internet (Preaching in cyberspace: A practical guide to preach with the internet) written by Teddy Suratmadji, Habib Setyawan, Munawir Yamin, and Robi Nurhadi, which adheres to a more optimistic vision of the transformational effect of the internet on Islam. As clearly indicated by its title, this book provides guidance for Muslims who want to utilize the internet for dakwah or the preaching of Islam.3 In its introduction, the authors argue that with the advancement of global information and communication technology juru dakwah or ustadz4 (traditional preachers) will be obsolete, as they will not be able to compete with modern technological ‘preaching’ platforms such as ‘ustadz Google’ in speed and accuracy. Nowadays, people can learn about Islam simply by using Google search. In today’s world, the authors believe that Islam needs to keep up with latest technology and Muslims in general must embrace information technology to master the knowledge. Knowledge, claim the authors, is a powerful tool to dominate the world and to establish the Khilafah (the caliphate), the global political unity of the Muslim Ummah. The authors have faith in the internet. They are convinced that it is a perfect weapon for Muslims all over the world, including in Indonesia, to fight against the hegemonic power of the West, especially the United States. Under this rationale, the authors invite all Muslims to start using the internet for dakwah. A sizeable part of the book is devoted to basic technical know-how needed to create online profiles and manage online dakwah content, such as introductions to websites, blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. The authors also provide lists of Islamic forums, websites, and online Muslim groups that can support an individual Muslim in doing online dakwah.

The second book of this topic looks at a different side of Islamic dakwah. In his book Wajah salafi ekstrem di dunia internet (The face of extreme Salafism on the internet), the author Abu Muhamad Waskito warns Muslims about the destructive act of a small group of individuals whom he calls extreme salafis. A salafi is a Muslim who follows the Salaf (ancestors), the earliest Muslims as model examples of Islamic practice and is usually associated with literalist, strict, and puritanical approaches to Islam. Waskito uses the term ‘extreme salafis’ to label those who claim that they are true salafis, use (own) the ‘brand’ salafi exclusively, and try to monopolize the Islamic truths. The book is meant to provide a snapshot of the extreme salafis’ propaganda, counter-arguments to their messages, and advices for handling them. The author firmly believes that the internet is a fertile ground for the extreme salafis to spread their propaganda. By filling cyberspace with self-righteous messages that tend to negate others’ views, the very act of extreme salafis, according to Waskito, can be paralleled to the conspiratorial attempt to obliterate the Islamic dakwah. The book itself is based on the author’s personal conflicts with a number of salafis that took place online. At times, the personal nature of the author’s narrative can be interesting. However, since almost all stories are based on the author’s online confrontations, the book becomes too personal involving real names of the extreme salafis whom Waskito identifies as his enemies.

Hackers and Activism

The last two books were published in 2010 and written by two young authors. They invite us to see the internet differently, in a brighter tone than those portrayed by the more senior authors in the first nine books. In his book Black hacker vs. white hacker, Akbar Kaelola introduces readers to an array of hackers and immerses us in the personalities and stories behind today’s cybersecurity threats and countermeasures. Here, hacker means someone who finds weaknesses in a computer or computer network. Kaelola clearly places these hackers on the pedestal, celebrates their genius, and commemorates them as contemporary world heroes. Before delving into personal stories of some famous white hackers, the author makes a clear distinction between computer criminals, or black hackers, and computer security experts, or white hackers. The author not only compiles and retells stories of computer geniuses such as Tim Berners-Lee (the creator of the World Wide Web), Linus Tolvald (Linux), Bill Gates & Paul Allen (Microsoft), and Jobs & Wazniak (Apple), he also uncovers stories of Indonesian hackers, few of whom we are likely to have heard of, such as Ray Abduh (klikBCA case), Dani Firmansyah (National Election website case), and I Made Wiryana (a Balinese computer security expert). The stories of these three Indonesian computer security experts exemplify the most interesting part of the book. Unfortunately, these accounts are much too brief and represent only a small portion of the book. They call for further work on ethnographical accounts of techno-individuals who have shaped the socio-technical landscape of the internet in Indonesia.

The last book is entitled The power of Facebook: Gerakan 1.000.000 Facebookers (The power of Facebook: The movement of one million Facebook users) by a young author, A. Yogaswara. The book reflects the sentiment of many young middle class Indonesians who believe that a ‘new’ internet, namely social media or web 2.0, has facilitated the rise of new forms of participation in public life, leading to democratization and social change. Two prominent Facebook activisms are most often referred to when making such claiming: the Prita case and the Gecko vs. Crocodile case (Cicak vs. Buaya). In the first case, Facebook was used to support Prita Mulyasari, a mother of two, who fought for justice after being prosecuted for complaining in an email to her friends and relatives about the bad service she received at a private hospital. The second case refers to a Facebook movement to support anti-corruption deputies, symbolized by a gecko, in their fight against an Indonesian Chief Police detective, symbolized by a crocodile. Yogaswara uses the gecko versus crocodile case to argue that Facebook is central to the democratization processes in the country. Using this case along with three other successful Facebook movements, the author contends that Facebook is a perfect tool to liberate voices that were otherwise, suppressed. He claims that on Facebook people can voice their direct opinions, without being represented by the parliament members, by forming a virtual DPR (house). Unfortunately, all of these claims are not supported by any rigorous investigation. Nowhere in the book can we find any analysis of how these movements were created, shaped, maintained, and why they were successful and others not. Nearly three-quarters of the book is filled with hundreds of verbatim copied-pasted-and-formatted Facebook comments from the movements’ pages. These archives are interesting in and of themselves and, yet, yield no description, rationalization, or explanation of the state of Facebook activism in Indonesia. The book selectively focuses on a tiny number of successful activisms; yet, there are hundreds or even thousands other Facebook movements that actually failed to make any impact at all. In reality, social media is a social space where activities are mostly revolved around fun, self-expression, and social gain (Lim 2013). Social media, including Facebook, can facilitate and amplify participatory culture that helps establishing a foundation, a training ground, and a learning space for individual to express their opinions, to exercise their rights, and to collaborate but does not inherently promote civic engagement and should not be perceived as a causal agent for social change and democratization (Lim 2013). For activists to utilize and employ it for meaningful political participation, they need to understand the nature and the limitations of social media activism and on what condition it may succeed (Lim 2013).

The Internet and New Moral Panics

When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute. Even when there is no deliberate distortion by censorship and propaganda [. . .] the public opinion of masses cannot be counted upon to apprehend regularly and promptly the reality of things. There is an inherent tendency in opinion to feed upon rumors excited by our own wishes and fears.

—Walter Lippmann 1989: 25

The growth of the internet and social media have radically changed not only how we produce, consume, and disseminate information, but also the ways we communicate and interact with each other. The influence of technology has extended beyond the confines of cyberspace and has shaped various aspects of our real lives. Consequently, it adds complexity and poses new challenges to our already complex way of life. Many of these ‘new’ aspects brought up by the internet, both positive and negative, are simply extensions of the moral life we lead in the ‘real’ physical world. But, as depicted in the selection of books reviewed here, some changes it brings are not always familiar and consistent with our cultures, values, and moral standards. For some, the anticipation of the unknown and the unfamiliar brings excitement and hope. For others, it brings fears.

In twenty-first century Indonesia, the internet has been around for more than a decade. More than 45 millions Indonesians, mostly young, have access to the internet. They flow on social media, making Indonesia one of the largest countries on Facebook and Twitter. Young Indonesians are leading the way in internet use and are now perceived as the drivers of change through their uses of technology. This form of agency causes anxiety to older generations—including parents and other figures of authorities—who are struggling to keep up with such technologies. Youth’s activities around the internet are then invariably seen as major social concerns and cause the exaggerated social reaction or what Stanley Cohen (1972) calls ‘a moral panic’ in his study of Mods and Rockers in the 1960s. This moral panic over new technology is not new. In the U.S. in the 1930s there was a moral panic about the radio and the influence of crooners on housewives and in the 1950s about television’s influence on the family. A moral panic over cyberporn, cybercrime, and other ‘dark sides’ of the internet that is expressed in some of the books under review, in actuality, emerges because (young) people use this new media to challenge the existing norms of powerful groups and governments. On the other hand, for young authors such as Kaelola and Yogaswara the new technology provides them with excitement, opportunities, hope, and, sometimes, hype. The reality lies in between. The internet is neither a technology of hope nor a weapon of moral destruction. As a technological artifact, it does not have pre-set social consequence that is linear or predictable. Technology does not operate in a vacuum; it is societally constructed. Hence, social impacts of the internet result from organic interactions between the existing technology and existing social, political, and cultural structures (Lim 2012).

1 These books were selected from about two-dozen internet-related books written by Indonesian authors published between 2005 and 2010 obtained from the KITLV library. The selection represents what are left after removing comic books and collections of (in most case, verbatim copies of) blog posts, Facebook statuses, and tweets. The author spent her summer in 2012 as a fellow-in-residence at KITLV to browse the library collection and review these books. She thanks KITLV, especially Marieke Bloembergen, Henk Schulte Nordholt, and Bart Barendregt for this opportunity.

2 Pornoaction is a Indonesian-invented word that means ‘actions deemed indecent’, which includes, but is not limited to, public intimate acts such as spouses kissing, women showing their navels or shoulders, and wearing bikinis or swimwear in places other than swimming pools.

3 Originally, the Arabic term da’wah, literally meant ‘issuing a summons’ or ‘making an invitation’. A Muslim who practices da’wah is a person who invites others to the Islamic faith by communicating her/his conviction and understanding of Islam, and is comparable to a ‘missionary’ in Christian faith (Oxford Islamic Studies Online 2012).

4 Ustadz, ustad or ustād in its original language (Persian) meant ‘a master, teacher, tutor; an artifijicer, manufacturer, artisan; a barber; ingenious, excellent, celebrated, famed for any art or work of ingenuity; enters into the composition of proper names’ (Steingass 1892). While there is no reference to the term ‘ustadz’ in any classical texts, in the Indonesian context it is commonly used for those who teach the religion of Islam.

References

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