Communication technologies and society – 1

Weller (2006), ‘The distance from isolation: why communities are the logical conclusion in e-learning’.’In this article Weller argues that the internet has technological features of openness, robustness and decentralisation, and these are also its social values. These values are evident in the adoption of popular internet applications.’

Interesting how the author uses inexact networking terminology to support his reasoning.

1. To what extent do you agree with the central hypothesis that the technological features of the internet are reflected in the social features?

Napster had these three features, but on the other hand iTunes may not be considered so open and decentralised. Although I sympathise with the open source movement, I cannot agree with the author’s claim that it is more robust  (eg Microsoft Office vs Open office)

Internet tools may be used and useful in various ways but do all internet technologies have these three features?

2. Can this hypothesis be extended to other technologies?

The author focuses on Napster, blogs and Open Source who apparently show such features. Many web 2.0 tools  include these features, in fact in the past years we have seen an exponential rise in social networking tools such as Facebook or Twitter.
3. If the hypothesis is valid, then to what extent does it reflect a social or technological determinism?
A technology has a number of features/functions which determine what the user may or may not do with it, therefore its affordance is determined. On the other hand the development of a technology is determined by the needs of the surrounding environment. Such needs arise by the user or society in general. In fact a technology which gains popularity in a country does not mean that it will have global popularity, as different groups of persons, different communities may have different needs and aspirations e.g. the penetration of different Social Networking Sites in various countries.

2 thoughts on “Communication technologies and society – 1

  1. Hi Keith
    Yesterday at work we were talking about all the facebook groups our students have set up and how communication there is much more fruitful than on our VLE. However, it is exclusive – it’s only available to those who are able and willing to sign up to Facebook so in fact it’s closed.
    A student commented that he can’t log into facebook on his work laptop but he can log into our VLE.

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