The Empowerment of Technology

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As I sit here in front of my computer screen (well, iPad) taking the GO train home to Toronto to see my family for Thanksgiving, I think to myself, “what would I do without technology at my fingertips?” I couldn’t be streaming movies on Netflix, writing my blog piece, or checking my emails on my phone.

Reading over Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron’s The Californian Ideology and Rethinking Convergence/Culture written by James Hay and Nick Couldry, I would like to discuss the pros and cons of the convergence of technology. Specifically, I would like to discuss the impact and empowerment technology has had on me, and society, in the last decade.

Integrating and converging different technologies is transforming the way in which we work, play, and live together (Barbrook & Cameron, 1996). We see this in how we communicate to each other on a daily basis via text messaging. My dad is always asking me, “Why don’t you just call your friends?” But, I reply by telling him, “It’s so much easier to text a bunch of your friends at once rather than having a single conversation over and over again.” Whereas ten years ago we had to call our friends individually to plan a night out, now we can just do a mass text message to everyone. Just by asking different generations their spin on communication, you’ll find different people associate with the level of technology that was most prevalent in their own youth years.

Theories of Marshall McLuhan claim, that “the convergence of media, computing and telecommunication would inevitably create a virtual place where everyone would be able to express their opinions free of censorship” (Barbrook & Cameron, 1996, p. 48.) Today, virtual media sites have been created such as Youtube, Myspace, Twitter, and Facebook, but with conflicting evidence, I question whether they should be censor free.

Chris Poelker, whose recent blog launched discussions on how integrating YouTube and Twitter has impacted politicians, mentions the scandal of how an anti-Islamic YouTube video prompted the death of the U.S. Ambassador in Libya. McLuhan mentions how the convergence of media allows people to express their opinions free of censorship yet, as this example demonstrates, YouTube and Twitter can be tools used by individuals as a means of encouraging terrorist acts! In this instance, anyone could argue that censorship of Internet communication outlets is vitally important. On another spectrum of interest in censorship, many people censor their use of Internet websites because employers screen their prospective employees. Now, any person using Facebook knows they have to think about the pictures they upload. A friend of mine got fired from her job because her employer found pictures on Facebook of her partying. McLuhans’ theories suggest that advances in electronic media will bring back small village life in a virtual manner. Does this mean the creation of social media such as, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, IChat, and BBM enable us to have our own virtual village? To me this is a kind of creepy theory, don’t you think?

Tim Martell’s blog comments, “Facebook has hit another incredible milestone yesterday; the social network now has over a billion active monthly users”. Could you ever imagine that a billion people could actually be connected? This has its upsides though; for example, Facebook is a beneficial advertising space and allows corporations to learn more about their target markets.

In conclusion, there are pros and cons to the convergence of technology. I feel that social networking is important and positive. However, sometimes we have to take a step back and communicate on a more personal level.

References
Barbrook, R., & Cameron, A. THE CALIFORNIAN IDEOLOGY. Science as Culture (January 1996), 6 (1), pg. 44-72
http://resolver.scholarsportal.info/resolve/09505431/v06i0001/44_tci

Hay, J., & Couldry, N. (2011). RETHINKING CONVERGENCE/CULTURE. Cultural Studies, 25(4-5), 473-486.
http://resolver.scholarsportal.info/resolve/09502386/v25i4-5/473_rc

Blogs

Chris Poelker
blogs.computerworld.com/…/convergence-technology-and-politics

Tim Martell’s
http://soshable.com/

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