Right Place, Right Times

Why do we need technology? Aren’t the Xbox and Playstation’s graphics good enough? Why do we need social media? Don’t we have enough ways to communicate? These were once questions I naively asked, now I hold a different perspective. I believe like a lot of other technological advances and success stories, social media has embedded itself into the way we communicate and in some cases, live. It came at the right time and right place.

In Blogging for DummiesBack In The Day post, a question asked was, “If they got to this far in the 1960’s, where was the hold up? Why did it take so long to further the computer and educate the world on it?” Especially after watching the Engelbart Demo, I was sharing the same sentiment. I think it was too much for people to grasp at the time. In my elementary school, we were still using Apple II computers well into the 1990’s (and it was a private school!). I think that as generations have been exposed to as much as we have in the digital age, the influx of information becomes easier (although sometimes overwhelming) to digest. So while it took quite some time for Engelbart’s tools and vision to become somewhat of the norm, I feel this is no longer the case today as technology continues to grow exponentially. Licklidder’s The Computer as a Communication Device mentions the computer being a means to “improve the effectiveness of communication among people as perhaps to revolutionize that also.” There is little argument that the computer has done just that, but no longer will we be as slow to adapt and change. We are not just dreaming about the next digital revolution, we expect it.

We Had To Be Shaken, To Start Stirring

In Bush’s As We May Think, he mentions the “partnership” between science/technology and the war. “Science has provided the swiftest communication between individuals; it has provided a record of ideas and has enabled man to manipulate and to make extracts from that record so that knowledge evolves and endures throughout the life of a race rather than that of an individual.” Indeed, Dr. Bush’s words are ahead of its time. It seems at the beginning of the article, we needed to enter a war to help further advance our technology of the day. I believe, especially in previous generations, we did need somewhat of a tipping point to evolve. In World War II, technology grew “in demand of a common cause,” but what is the reason for it to grow today?

Politically Speaking…

All right, I do not mean to scare any of the readers, I will NOT go on a political diatribe on this forum (personally I do not read that stuff anyway). Aside from that, I would not want to feel the wrath that Scott Baio felt about his recent comments What would be a reason that social media is now the norm? It is because people want to be heard. What we once saw as a privilege is now a right in the eyes of many (as Licklidder debated about society reaction to the computer). He also states that our interactive communities will be “not of common location, but of common interest.” Politics are that common interest that people can always debate and speak with great conviction and passion about. What better way to get your partisan beliefs across than finding others that share that common interest and blogging, tweeting or joining a Facebook page?

Red Sox fan or Yankees fan? Conservative or Liberal?

I'll Stick With Social Media Instead

These are questions i try to avoid (and will not answer here), but to me, there was no denying that social media played a part and Barack Obama was smart to take advantage of it. The war Dr. Bush wrote of caused a change in jobs for people, while the 2008 election made folks of all walks of life embrace the new technologies we are now accustomed to. Even one of my colleagues at a non-profit organization joined Obama’s campaign trail in the fall of 2007. Her job was to blog about her experiences. I thought, “That’s not a job.” Not only was it a job, but another way to communicate with the audience. How did people try to convey the importance of voting in 2004? I’m still trying to forget this slogan. Is the president tweeting news? I think it’s debatable, but the fact that people are talking about it, means that social media is accepted by the masses.

Do I think politics made social media what it is today? Absolutely not, but it definitely served as a basis to help make social media more of a norm that it already was becoming. As Licklidder says, “there will be plenty of opportunity for everyone to find his calling, for the while world of information, with all its fields and disciplines, will to be open to him – with programs ready to guide him or to help him explore.” It gave some in the political realm a voice and it gives a lot of people in any generation bracket (or political affiliation) a chance to find their voice…

Even if they don’t have anything of great importance to say.

References:

  1. Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think.” Theatlantic.com, July 1945
  2. J.C.R. Licklidder, “The Computer as a Communication Device.” Science and Technology, April 1968
  3. Rich Brooks, “What Businesses Can Learn from Barack Obama’s Social Media Strategy”  fastcompany.com, January 2009
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4 Responses
  1. Tom Hanson says:

    Great point about the social media factor in the last Presidential race. There is no doubt in my mind that Facebook enabled Barack Obama to get name recognition and eventually win over (especially the younger generation) the voters. In the future, politicians will utilize social media tools and hopefully they will be hiring Interactive Communications experts. This could open up some interesting job oppurtunities.

  2. Jamila Simmons says:

    I believe that technology is inevitable. The computer, the internet, inevitable. The technology that we have today was bound to happened. I think as inventors became wiser and knowledgable, technology became more ehanced. I think it is interesting how we are able to grasp each technology that I guess in a way grows up with us. How we are able to learn and use each technology as if it was in our world forever. No one had to tell me how to use the mp3 I just kind of knew. Just like with vcr’s and dvd’s. I’m sure watching my mother helped but it seemed as if it was naturally instilled in me. This is why I believe that technology impacts our culture. We expect technology because it has been around since man kind. Technology not only changes our values it governs our society.

  3. admin says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the feedback. When it’s all said and done I (and I’m sure the rest of us) will be those social media experts waiting for those jobs (which will be paying really well I hope). Thanks for reading and kudos on your Twitter page, you always keep it interesting and provide good read.

    -Jon

  4. admin says:

    Jamila,

    Thanks for the feedback. As a 27 year old, I can say I have been very fortunate to be able to be in a generation that can adapt to new technologies and expect them as quickly as we do. Totally agree with you on its effect on society. If a celebrity is in the news, the media will let you know what he or she tweeted. It effects the way we live, the way we get our information and in some cases the way we represent ourselves. I can only imagine in the future how my own kids will be so much quicker than I am to the changing technologies. Thanks for reading!

    -Jon

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