Tag Archives: social-media

Communication, Technology and Culture

Communication, technology and culture are three words that can be considered very different yet very similar at the same time. What is more important is the impact each of those ideas can have on the other, whether negative or positive. Web 2.0 presents a perfect example of how communication, technology and culture can be affected both negatively and positively. Today’s blog entry will examine precisely that: how Web 2.0 affects communication, technology and culture. Communication has changed rapidly in the last decade alone, but even more so in the last few years specifically.

Web 2.0 has nearly replaced numerous communication techniques of the past. “Snail mail” as it is now known has been overshadowed by social networking and instant messaging, the home phone has become obsolete thanks to video chat and Skype. Some negative aspects a serious change like this could bring include weakened personal relationships. Since we are no longer taking the time to sit down and write a good friend a letter or call our mothers one could argue that Web 2.0 is diminishing us as relational beings. On the other hand, one could argue that Web 2.0 increases our communication with others because of the various outlets that allow us to communicate.  Additionally these platforms such as Facebook or Twitter essentially allow us to always be connected thanks to smart phones and tablets. It is technologies like Facebook and Twitter that allow us to communicate and there are many other technologies influenced by Web 2.0 that have both positive and negative aspects.

Even ten years ago, there were only a handful of bright minds who could accurately predict the future of technology. At this point it would’ve been unthinkable to have the world linked together online through social networking sites. Technological changes that have allowed this to occur have changed the world forever, both negatively and positively. In the positive sense, as shown in various political protests such as Occupy Toronto or the protests in Egypt, social media can be used as a tool to organize and assemble. Additionally, the same movements used social media as a personal news outlet. Both movements could alerts interested followers of updates at the click of a button before big news stations were even aware. Although this presents a major positive of the rapid growth of technology the same statement could represent a key negative aspect as well. The problem raised is the validity of the content released through social media. In journalism, numerous fact checks must be done before releasing a story and is often written objectively. Social media remains extremely subjective and untrustworthy. It is technology like this that is changing not only the role of journalism, but the culture of society as well.

Nowadays almost everyone can be considered a ‘pirate’ or a DJ, these are just two small examples of how Web 2.0 has affected our culture. Gone are the days of simple copyright laws and purchasing CD’s. Instead users download endlessly for minimal cost to themselves and serious profit loss to the entertainment industry. Additionally, users have been remixing content to the extreme thanks to new technology that makes doing so simple for even the most casual Internet user. We have also become very reliant on technologies like Web 2.0. Instead of remembering things we Google them, instead of calling someone we Skype them and instead of writing to someone we write on their Facebook wall. The real question we must ask ourselves is, are we becoming less human due to this rapid change of communication, technology and culture?


(insert computerized robot voice)

Have We Turned Into Something Worse?

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://www.xda-wallpapers.com/var/albums/Hi-Tech/1920×1200/Human,%20Computer,%20cables.jpg?m=1298687607

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Loser Generated Content: From Participation to Exploitation

Well, I guess I’m a loser. I guess billions of people around the world are losers for that matter. Todays blog entry will examine a paper written by Søren Mørk Petersen called Loser Generated Content: From Participation to Exploitation. More specifically, the entry will examine three claims made by Petersen. Firstly, we will examine Petersen’s claim of relational thinking and how this relates to Web 2.0. Next, we will look at general intellect and capitalism, subjects raised often by Petersen throughout the paper. Finally, we will analyze Petersen’s harsh criticisms of Web 2.0 and its users. Petersen who claims Web 2.0 is “transforming users into losers” makes numerous valid claims, but also leaves himself open to various criticisms as well.

Relational thinking is never specifically defined by Petersen. He does offer an example about Flickr attempting to explain the concept, but even after this attempt one may still be confused. As outlined on the official Relational Thinking website there are three steps to relational thinking. Step one, “learning to see public policy and personal issues through a relational lens.” Step two, “changing goals, values and practices of organisations.” Finally, step three, “developing an analytical framework appropriate to relationships.” After understanding this outline, Petersen’s example begins to make more sense. Each of his three steps on Flickr represent a step in the relational thinking process. With that said, I don’t know how many people on Flickr take this three step process when uploading an image. Personally, I don’t have Flickr so I can’t speak for myself, but I can’t imagine that each and every Flickr user is so concerned with the relations that are created through uploading a photo. Even more confidently I can assume that it is rare for a Flickr user to “be contacted by other parties who would like to include the photo in a magazine or a Web 2.0 tourist guide” (Petersen). Examining such a claim leaves me feeling somewhat insulted to be called a loser, and I certainly don’t feel assertions regarding general intellect or capitalism should induce such name calling either.

Petersen makes a strong, passionate assertion when he states, “automation and hereby the mobilization of the general intellect are primarily fostered by machinery, infrastructure and communication technologies”. A valid statement which undoubtedly most people can relate too. When Petersen furthers his assumptions to suggest, “this creates the capitalistic vision of a world market but at the same time, according to Marx, also creates a capitalistic nightmare”, our agreement ends. To jump to the conclusion that our expanding automation and mobilization are creating a world market is extremely fallacious through cause and effect. There is no denying that automation and mobilization are occurring, I believe less would say the same about the capitalistic vision of a world market. Even assuming both of the cases were inevitable, it is fallacious to directly tie A to B without adequate justification between the two. Surely Web 2.0, rapid growth of technology and automation have had a serious impact on capitalism and the economy as a whole, but I highly doubt that this alone will lead to “capitalistic nightmare.” Two claims down and I am still considered a loser? Is it really Web 2.0 that has made us “losers” or have ‘users always been losers’ to the corporation?

There is no doubt that numerous people put plenty of time into their personal profiles on Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, etc. Sure these are online and sometimes just for fun, but in many cases are important professional ways of being seen or even making a few dollars from home. These services must of course be provided through companies who host the sites, and the goal of any corporation is of course, profit. In exchange for the services provided by the companies, users are shown advertisements, which are often targeted directly to the user based on recent clicks. Additionally, on rare occasions the companies may ask you to use a picture or some piece of information you provided on your profile. This doesn’t sound much different than similar companies who don’t exist online. Readers Digest for example, encourages readers to send them pictures or stories which they will use in upcoming copies of the magazine. Like most magazines, RD contains advertisements and numerous people are still willing to pay for the newest addition. So does this make users losers? Or is this simple a part of being society? To live, someone will always be making money from the human race. In turn, they will spend their money on a product which will bring money to someone else. The economic wheel is endless and Web 2.0 is only a small part of this, not a deadly database of losers.

So call me a loser if you wish Mr. Petersen. Personally, I believe I am just a contributing member of society. A society which has begun to move online. A society which is changing and evolving at an alarming rate. A society, where labour is being replaced by technology yet we are still functioning properly. The world has gone through numerous massive changes and Web 2.0 is just a very small phase which will likely pass sooner rather than later, to make fallacious assumptions that Web 2.0 will lead to “capitalistic nightmare”, in my opinion Mr. Petersen, makes you the loser.

Although, your claims do raise one very good question…

What Have We Turned Into

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://www.freeiconsdownload.com/Free_Downloads.asp?id=548

Works Cited

Petersen, Søren Mørk. “Loser Generated Content: From Participation to Exploitation.”www.firstmonday.org. First Monday, 3 Mar. 2008. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2141/1948&gt;.

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Market Ideology and the Myths of Web 2.0

So what is Web 2.0? Like Trebor Scholz, I ask why has “the definition morphed over time” (Scholz). Certainly many people envision an ideal Web 2.0, but does this or can this really exist? In 2008 when Market Ideology and the Myths of Web 2.0 was written they certainly didn’t know exactly what Web 2.0 was, and it appears four years later the true definition has yet to be pinpointed.

In 2005, Tim O’Reilly attempted to explain what Web 2.0 was, or is attempting to be. O’Reilly pointed out seven major parts, or goals of Web 2.0: The Web As Platform, Harnessing Collective Intelligence, Data Is The Next Intel Inside, End of the Software Release Cycle, Lightweight Programming Models, Software Above the Level of a Single Device and Rich User Experiences (O’Reilly). Some of his predictions may have been accurate, especially when he suggested that Google would be the future of the internet. On the other hand, some of his predictions certainly were incorrect with no mention of now ginormous social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter on the subject of “personal websites” (O’Reilly). With too many false or unthinkable predictions, O’Reilly brings me no closer to understanding the definition of Web 2.0.

The question I ask is, are we just simply over thinking Web 2.0? Like many other technologies of the past, has the Web just evolved into something different than it used to be? The television changed from having only a handful of channels in black and white to now having hundreds of channels in colour. The radio has changed so drastically that some think in the near future it may not even exist without the internet (Saul). Is it to simple to suggest that the internet is simply going through a technological evolution just as those mediums before it has? With the internet having billions of users, I don’t think it would be fallacious to think that this is the case. The internet has changed because of its users, not because the corporations have tendered it to act a certain way. Web 2.0 is a product of evolved users of Web 1.0 and this is why it appears that, “the desires and needs of young users seem to match neatly with the needs of corporaties” (Scholz). Corporations haven’t changed the internet in a way that its users are now forced to indulge in the available product, instead users have shown corporations what they are interested in and allowed them to market directly to them. In many ways, this is actually much better for the corporation and much easier for the consumer.

In the end, Scholz makes a very powerful point and encourages the reader to, “re–imagine the Social Web as a place for unmarketed, non–mainstream projects that caters to all needs of those who inhabit it (Scholz). Unfortunately, I doubt the internet will ever see such a time. The Web itself is a product, a product which billions of people have and will continue to, invest time and money in. The corporations have become aware of this and are using the power of the Internet to market their products directly to us. Whether Web 2.0 is a product created ideologically by corporations, or it has simply evolved from the content produced by its users, there is no doubt that the World Wide Web will continue to exist as a part of business, technology and culture. The paradigm raises two extremely serious questions what has and will the Internet turn into, and of course…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://folusho.com/exploring-web-2-0-social-media-networking-and-web-2-0/

Works Cited

Scholz, Trebor. “Market Ideology and the Myths of Web 2.0.” First Monday. 3 Mar. 2008. Web. 24 Mar. 2012.

O’Reilly, Tim. “What Is Web 2.0.” O’Reilly: Spreading the Knowledge of Innovators. O’Reilly Media, Inc, 30 Sept. 2005. Web. 24 Mar. 2012.

Saul, Brad. “The Future of Radio.” G Plus. Gerson Lehrman Group, 08 Jan. 2009. Web. 24 Mar. 2012.

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The Googlization of Memory and Higher Education

“Information, once rare and cherished like caviar, is now plentiful and taken for granted like potatoes” (Vaidhyanathan, 175).

David Shenk, the original author of such quote (Shenk, 9), embodies the problem and the best quality of Google in one simple sentence. Google is possibly the greatest database of information ever. Millions upon millions of Webpages of information become available in often under one second. While some may consider this convenient or even an excellent way to receive information, have “Googlers” began to treat information like Shenk’s hypothetical potatoes? This blog will examine how information, and how it is received has changed, specifically focusing on memory, education and research.

In some ways it is nice to think that Google is always going to be there for people. It is very helpful of course, when one must quickly identify the address of a restaurant for example, or a phone number for that restaurant. The fact that Google can now essentially be carried everywhere with a person through tablets and smart-phones may seem even more convenient, but is this simple accessibility a fair trade for our once cherished memory? Like Vaidhyanathan, many people have trouble remembering little things like phone numbers. To think that Google has nothing to do with that is preposterous. In the past, people would read books, newspapers, fliers etc. and receiving information this way helped build their memory. Tasks like this took time and focus, Googling a small phrase to get the same result does not. As a race, humans have wired their brains to receive information quickly and retain very little. Google is at the forefront of this problem because they have convinced users that Google will always be there for them whenever and wherever they are. The same problem is occurring in the education system, where students are turning to Google more often then their classrooms.

Many people believe they can learn very much from Google. “Learning by definition is an encounter with that you don’t know, what you haven’t thought of, what you couldn’t conceive, and what you never understood or entertained as possible” (Vaidhyanathan, 182). Under this definition provided by Vaidhyanathan, it would appear that users of Google aren’t really learning much at all. This is because in recent years, Google has focused on “personalizing” searches based on a users Google history (Vaidhyanathan, 183). So really, if a user is seeking knowledge, they are never really receiving something they completely “don’t know” or “haven’t thought of” because the results of their search will be tailored to the user based on their past searches. For example, if I was to search, “The Human Genome Project”, my results would be tailored based on my past searches of “The Human Knowledge Project” and “The Googlization of Everything.” Arguments such as this can only make one agree with Vaidhyanathan’s criticism of Jeff Jarvis, who suggested that “higher education follow the contours of Google” (Vaidhyanathan, 184). Jarvis argues that higher education research should be more “collaborative and open” (Vaidhyanathan, 184), but how would this be possible when each students research would be different based on their past searches? In response, Vaidhyanathan points out an ironic point; Google actually appears to be more like a university than a corporate information database (Vaidhyanathan, 186). Instead it almost appears that Google is following the ways of a university instead of the opposite that Jarvis recommends.

 Arguably two of the most important things in professional human life, memory and higher education have been dramatically influenced and changed by Google. Our memory may never be the same thanks to Google, which has rewired our brains to expect information quickly. Higher education will never be the same, more and more students will turn to Google and services like Google Scholar instead of divulging into the massive collection of texts which possess a nearly endless amount of information. Instead of attending classes students will instead attempt to Google their way through university and college, and unfortunately sometimes it may work. One can only hope that Jeff Jarvis’ “Google School” will never exist, but at the pace we’re travelling at now, it wouldn’t be a major surprise.

Google and it’s information have changed our memory, higher education and more. It really makes one wonder…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://www.impactlab.net/2012/01/25/internet-is-our-main-source-of-memory-instead-of-our-own-brains/


Works Cited

Shenk, David. Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut. San Francisco, CA: Harper Edge, 1997. Print.

Vaidhyanathan, Siva. The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry). Berkeley: University of California, 2011. Print.

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