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The Communications Revolution

June 26, 2008

I am thrilled to have been invited to write for Canada’s World on the topic of the new reality of the communications revolution.

I thought I’d start by defining what I think a communications revolution is, and then figuring out whether we are in such a thing.

If you are reading this, you are already up to date on the concept of communications. If you are thinking of commenting, you’ve really got it down, especially in the contemporary sense. See how easy? We are natural communicators, and I look forward to learning from you!

That leaves us to figure out what exactly a revolution is.

In political terms, it describes a transformation in the power-base in a relatively brief period of time. I have recently heard it described as a new condition or reality that changes everything.

Traditional mediums of communication have been exclusively the domain of those who could afford it and knew how to use it. Freedom of the press was limited to those who could afford one. When only monks could read and write, there was a stasis in communications. When the printing press was developed to a point that it was reliable and affordable to use, recorded communiques became available to, and could be understood by a relatively larger demographic.

Was this a communications revolution? Yes, in that for the first time, there was some means of recording events or stories in a way that could be distributed in a sort of broadcast. But it was a limited revolution, at least when compared to what I now propose we are in now.

In the first 10 years of the Internet’s existence, only the monks (coders, hackers, programmers) could negotiate its capacities. Media outlets and companies broadcast their message, and as we had been conditioned to do for generations, we read, watched and read some more.

It began to gradually change when the price of data storage came down, and tools like blogs and wikis created shells that the non-monks could work within without the cryptic coding knowledge.

Then, in an exponential burst, a recent host of communications platforms made virtually any kind of media affordable and accessible for broadcasting by the masses. A flurry of terminology has erupted as books are written through crowdsourcing, Youtube videos give how-tos on creating your own YouTube, and people like you and me write stories, create art and code programs – all the while taking advantage of new-school attention grabbing techniques such as tags, links and cross-reference.

This paradigm-shift has been referred to as Web 2.0, and it reveals the best and the worst characteristics of our inquisitive and communicative beings.

I’ve banged on too long for one posting already, but I will be discussing our new reality and the myriad of issues, inventions, communities and possibilities that are riding the wave of this revolution, that we are decidedly in.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Nick permalink
    November 24, 2008 12:38 pm

    Hi Maureen,

    I would suggest exploring Youtube and looking for blogs on subjects of interest to you, Nothing like first hand experience to give you a feel for something. Other than that, there is a wealth of analysis out there on this stuff.

  2. Maureen Wiggins permalink
    August 8, 2008 4:08 am

    Nick…what us that are older and do not do the blog thing or UToobing and do not quite understand this particular type of communication…what then?


  3. reneethewriter permalink
    June 26, 2008 11:45 pm

    “This paradigm-shift has been referred to as Web 2.0, and it reveals the best and the worst characteristics of our inquisitive and communicative beings.” – This sentence really spoke to me – i’m a nervous nelly about what all this “communications” stuff means in the long term – about how blogging, surfing, commenting, grazing, UToobing, etc either enriches or addles our minds. Have you seen the feature article in this month’s Atlantic Magazine, “Is Googe making us stupid,”…something like that.

    As i’ve written previously to other posts, i don’t drive, don’t own a cellphone; also, i don’t have cable TV; so radio and the internet are my links to the “outside.”

    As a poet, i’m fascinated by what I call “The Knowing” – who’s getting left out, who’s “in,” what’s “knowledge” what’s just junk etc…thanks for a great introductory post and i look forward to your next one…ah, i see it’s up, too.

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