Twitter: The millennial megaphone

A bridge made of pebbles is an excellent analogy used by Johnson (2009) in describing the use of short Tweets to create something so large – an atmosphere of constant awareness. I feel that this analogy could be applied to many aspects of the internet. The plethora of information which is available online creates the notion of what we know as the internet or cyberculture itself. This overabundance of information, which has been aided by the rise of mass ameaturisation, has developed the organisational habit of sorting.

The previous communication models where the audience is considered passive and absorbent are now being literally rewritten by society. The interactive nature of online content, through selection and sorting of relevance had developed the emergence of a participatory culture. This culture has not only created effects online, but also offline through the advance of new ethics, credibility and collective intelligence. In this world, consumers become prosumers, where participating has its own rewards. However, the ease of creating online content has vastly altered the power balance between traditional news outlets and the emergence of new information hubs. Consumers can now actively seek information and furthermore, critically analyse and evaluate an issue beyond the normative agenda setting of the industrial news outlets.

Bruns (2009) refers to the notion of ‘gatewatchers’ as ‘guide dogs’ who may point their users to useful reports in conventional news publications as well as to first-hand materials from official or unofficial sources or to insightful commentary and analysis; in other words, they watch the output gates of other sources, and further publicise the material published allowing people to compare and contrasts news with only a few clicks. The focus here has shifted from first hand investigation, to the development of retrieval and analytical skills. I think the concept of ‘gatewatchers’ is reoccurring in many facets of the internet beyond citizen journalism and is a reflection of the increasingly critical society which we are a part of.

Reference:

Bruns, A. (2009) ‘News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions for e-Journalism’ [URL: http://produsage.org/files/News%20Blogs%20and%20Citizen%20Journalism.pdf].

Johnson, S. (2009). How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live. Time [URL: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1902604,00.html].

Mitew, T 2012, Social media and the rise of gatewatchers, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 10/09/2012.

Image sourced from:

http://ukwebfocus.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/twitter-wordle-20100809.png.

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Global Nervous System

Having read Bruce Sterling’s history of the Internet, my perceptions of it’s origins have altered dramatically. Rather than smooth liner progress, this reading shows how messy, contingent and intermittent the development of such technologies has been. In a way, I feel this new frame mirrors the diverse and sporadic nature of the Internet, and the networks it fosters. It is this particular disposition, which leads to the seemingly impossible task of control of content, a reoccurring topic of discussion within Australian society and the parliament.

The varied levels of communication networks are constantly being shaped by flows of information; built upon past experience and maintained and changed in the constant reshaping through the exposure to new information in everyday life. As Marshall McLuhan (1969) notes, the flows of information are infinitely malleable. The often-public aspects of networks do not merely offer a single message connected by two sides. An example of this could be seen through Facebook. Asking a question online to a friend could accumulate a wealth of responses from others (warranted or not), but again, this is the nature of networks!

Having grasped an understanding of some of the key aspects of this weeks readings, time-boundness represented a key issue in the development of this coherence. In an environment such as cyberspace, where information flows very quickly, through computer networks, and the new interrelations are born as fast as old connections die – time is a supreme factor. The radical development of new technologies, media and uses for these networks dramatically affects how information is transmitted. A break down in this system to me seems like a blockage in the nervous system within the human body. Messages travelling around the body are stopped and the functionality and understanding comes to a halt. Who would have thought that technology and human anatomy could create a plausible analogy?

Reference:

Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b1/MAZE_30x20_Prim.ogv/mid-MAZE_30x20_Prim.ogv.jpg

Lessig, L. (2006). Four puzzles from cyber space. In L. Lessig Code version 2.0  (pp 9-30). New York: Basic Books. [URL:https://www.socialtext.net/codev2/four_puzzles_from_cyberspace]

Stalder, F. (2005) ‘Information Ecology’. In Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks pp. 62-66 [URL: http://felix.openflows.com/pdf/Notebook_eng.pdf]

Sterling, B. (1993) ‘A Short History of the Internet’, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction [URL:http://sodacity.net/system/files/Bruce_Sterling_A_Short_History_of_the_Internet.pdf]

Virtually Connected?

Castells’ (2004) opening sentence in his book ‘networks are the language of our time’ is an exemplary introduction to sum up my perception on global networks. In our daily lives, we are consumed by networks, whether it be on a physical level within a group of friends, local community or family network, or wether it be focused on a technological level through a social network, an employee network at work or an educational network such as e-learning at university, we all utilise the technology as a means to communicate – as a basic interconnecting language. While we as individuals, have taken advantage of the new connections: to earn, learn, trade and travel, it seems almost as if society fails to understand their logic, or appreciate the deep sense of meaning and reaction that a network connection can hold.

Globalisations a key indication of the rising use of global networks and the use and misuse of the elements. As the world has moved from virtual segregation into interconnection and interdependence, the rise of communication networks has been exponential. Positive outcomes such as the rise of social networking and e-commerce are just two of the numerous results from this increase. However, such networks have also created negative effects, including the turmoil created by the Global Financial Crisis. Hence, there is evidence to support the power and potential behind these networks, but also the learnings which are yet to be made in regards to this.

Castells (2004) provide an interesting perspective on this, stating that;

‘Only under the electronics based technological paradigm can networks reconfigure themselves in real time, on a global–local scale, and permeate all domains of social life. This is why we live in a network society, not in an information society or a knowledge society’ (p.221).

While I can appreciate the point being made, I struggle to completely accept it. On a personal level, I feel that our society encompasses all three of these aspects, and the networks within this global-local scale act to disseminate meanings developed within the information and knowledge societies. While all three are considered separate notions, advances in technology and communication networks are making it possible for the concepts to merge together through interconnecting facets.

Image

Reference:

Castells, M. (2004) ‘Afterword: why networks matter’. In Network Logic: Who governs in an interconnected world? (pp. 221-224) [http://www.demos.co.uk/files/networklogic.pdf].

Techno Tuesday 2010, Techno Tuesday, Image – ‘Virtually Connected’, accessed 27/08/2012, http://www.technotuesday.com/?p=308.