It’s unbelievable that this semester moved so fast. We covered a vast array of material that introduced us to late and early communication technologies. I learned so much about the beginning and development of the internet that spurred; collaboration, communication and the theories and ideas that make it all possible. This week we were to watch a Ted talk and tie together what we have learned from the earlier chapters. Starting from the early beginnings of the internet, we learned how the government sought to improve and sustain communication throughout the nation, when and if the grid collapsed. The World Wide Web immerged as one of these resources. It was created as a communication device that allowed people to speak from across the country and exchange information if necessary. The web spawned other inventions; such as encryption, various operating systems, and browsers that contributed to the complexity and importance of this newly developed tool. The web eventually went “mainstream” and people began to collaborate in chat rooms and in groups which aimed to complete specific tasks. One of the most successful products of this online collaboration was the Linux operating system. It called for thousands of coders to add to a robust and dynamic system that could run computers for free. Other collaborative efforts spawned from this, such as the example of “it takes a villiage” a community was formed that ultimately tracked down a cell phone thief who refused to bring back the cell phone to the owner. We also touched upon “the program” and how the government uses communication technology to spy on us and shares this information with major corporations and vice versa. This alludes to the power and influence that the government and corporatons have when marketing to the “geneation like”
We also talked about technological determinism; how changes in communication technology shape culture and society and vice versa. McLuhan voiced his opinion about the effects of technology on people “we shape our tools and in turn our tools shape us”. This was evident in some of the videos we watched about Korean children and their addiction to online gaming and generation like. The Ted talk was about cognitive surplus and how society can use it for civic engagement. It’s possible for people to collaborate for free and produce meaningful tools that can benefit society as a whole. One of the most interesting collective projects that I have seen on the internet that fits the description of a “meaningful” cognitive surplus project is Wikipedia. People from around the globe contribute bits of information or data that can be perused by those who are interested in historical facts, current definitions, or anything pertaining to: world history, politics, religion, economics, education, entertainment, health, technology, law, labor, and many other topics. There is so much energy put into the Wiki project that it is a very valuable resource to begin research or at least begin to understand the basics of any given subject. Wiki is not perfect, but it does offer a great example of collaborative knowledge and effort. I definitely benefit from Wikipedia because it is one of the first places I go to check out a subject of interest for me. Wiki also cites it sources, which is good for research if you are looking for primary sources to research. I probably wouldn’t want to contribute to Wiki because it would take too much time and effort to add something substantial that hasn’t already been added. I also find wiki too mainstream; there are some bits of knowledge and information that doesn’t fit the popular historical narrative that would hardly make it pass the screening process. History is told by the winners, not the losers; and that’s what makes wiki links so interesting because it reveals some things that would not be common knowledge, or would be covered up all together. I would consider contributing to a forum or cause that would help poorer nations or peoples to work together and collaborate their efforts (independent of international organizations) to improve their lives or circumstances. All in all, it was a great semester and I had fun reading blogs and learning to use communication technology.