Current information about conflicts placed on the Internet in real time by on-the-scene observers and alternative news sources will be voraciously devoured by the world audience and will have an immediate and tangible impact on the course of events. Video footage of military operations will be captured by inexpensive, hand-held digital video cameras operated by local individuals, transformed unedited into data files, and then uploaded into the global information flow, reaching millions of people in a matter of minutes. Public opinion and calls for action (or calls to terminate actions) may be formed before national leaders have a chance to develop positions or to react to developments. These factors will greatly add to the burden on military commanders, whose actions will be subjected to an unprecedented degree of scrutiny.
Even if the actual presence of the Internet in the location of a conflict is very limited, the widespread access to Internet available in the developed world will provide a medium over which political debate and activism related to that conflict can occur. Thus the Internet can indirectly play an important role in the way the world deals with a conflict, without having substantial physical presence within the conflict. The Internet can play an important positive role during future international crises and conflicts. In the chaotic conditions usually present in such situations, normal government and commercial reporting channels are often unreliable or unavailable, and the Internet might be one of the few means of communication present.