Sad to say, my lovelies, we’ve come to the end of yet another blog series. 😦
But let’s not get frowny-faced and teary-eyed just yet. Today’s post is all about the virtual information superhighway that is the worldwide webernet. Of course, we have to do a little bit of a history lesson first – and we’ll do it by looking at ‘old media’ versus ‘new media’.
Basically, old media talks about anything before the internet, particularly broadcast and cable tv, radio and print publications like books, magazines, and newspapers. New media are all the more interactive spaces and are largely created or facilitated by the internet. Blogs and social media sites are really good examples of new media.
The Information Superhighway!
I mentioned this term information superhighway just now, but I didn’t really go into detail about it – at least not before you knew the starting point. Because of the more interactive nature of new media, a lot of information is being relayed and received through using new media at the same time.
Think of it with the volume of rush hour traffic, minus the interminable wait that comes with it. Basically, the messages we send – whether it’s an email, an instant message, a direct message, a tweet, a Facebook status, a comment, or a snap – are like cars going north on the expressway towards your intended destination. Those we receive are like the cars going the opposite direction.
We call this sort of transaction computer-mediated communication. It reminds me vaguely of the interactional model of communication coined by Wilbur Schramm. That whole passive back and forth thing was pretty much the gist of Schramm’s model.
So, now that we’ve dealt with a crash course in computer-mediated communication (CMC) history and familiarised ourselves with some of the jargon, let’s get down to the meat of the matter, shall we?
The Culture Conversation
One of the things that stood out to me most was how much technology is a facilitator of globalisation. Think about it. The internet is this gigantic virtual world that catalogues information about pretty much any place and it’s accessible to many people too.
Everyone who opens their web browser in a sense is entering into a giant chat room full of other world citizens. Or maybe it’d be better to think of it like one huge conference. When I sit down and read articles about other places over the internet, the information I glean helps me to formulate my image of what that place is like.
The internet removes or at least diminishes the need I have to go to a particular culture by exposing me to representations of that culture. Culture. Globalisation. Representation. These words looking familiar to you guys?
The thing is, technology means that at any moment I can connect with anybody in the world that has a computer too. Therefore, technology means that my culture is in constant conversation with the culture of everyone I speak to.
That’s the way globalisation works.
The thing is, the same way I form my take on say, Italian culture, by reading about Italy, other people form theirs on my country Barbados too. This goes back to what we were saying about representation – depending on the information I have access to about Italy I form a particular narrative of Italy in my head.
A lot of the information about Caribbean culture has led the world to believe that we are all very laid back people who survive in a sun sea and sand paradise in understated harmony – and that’s because in order to attract people governments have marketed it as such.
But as someone who’s lived here for nearly 21 years now, my representation is different – we can be laid back, but we’re also very hard-working people. I guess what I’m trying to point out is that CMC is a vehicle for globalisation because it helps people get a closer look at other cultures and form their own opinions.
Maybe the danger in that is just that representations have a knack for complicating how we ‘define’ a culture. What do you think?
Cyndi, the Media Socialite
- Ehsan Group