Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Web right now....

After considering the ideas presented in the readings this week, I keep coming back to a cartoon posted on one of my favorite websites, The Oatmeal, and wonder what these sociologists would say about "The State of the Web Right Now?" Would writers such as Edward Sabir scoff at the many diverse, yet similar, mediums we use now all available on the internet? When he wrote "The multiplication of communication channels only added to the obstacles and lack of communication between people," there were only comparatively few mediums emerging in the cultural landscape. In today's world, we must be quick to catch on to new mediums emerging almost daily, all with the help of interconnectivity from smartphones, laptops and the Web. What sort of social, cultural and political life changes would Cooley observe with these new mediums? Have they connected people as he said the written word does, or have they, in some sense, isolated people? People don't have to make a phone call and talk to a live person to find store hours, or stop at a gas station to ask for directions. They can simply log on to the Web and avoid sometimes annoying human-to-human interaction. In today's society, these are the simple type of questions Sabir wrote about on page 77, "Because language is extraordinarily rich in meaning it sometimes becomes a little annoying or even dangerous to rely upon it where only a simple this or that, or yes or no, is expected to be the response." The Web content is far less complex than language would be if the person got the information directly from another person. There is no body language or voice tone to interpret, for example.

Even in the early part of the 20th century, new media competed for attention and led to the growth of individuality, Cooley wrote. With 1 in 13 people globally on Facebook, I think we've seen unprecedented acceptance of individuality. From the introduction by Peters and Simonson, we learn why newspapers had and continue to have success. It's partially due to the documentation of events and discoveries that eventually led to the advancement of society. It's also due to the idea that people like to know what's going on with their neighbors. They are socially curious, which is why people use Facebook. Ultimately, today's society shares the same sort of hope and progressive spirit when Americans and Europeans were on the brink of a new information era at the beginning of the 20th century. Will it stay that way, or are we riding a wave that will eventually crash?

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