Current Trends In Human Communication Information Technology Essay
Information and Communication Technologies have been a part of rapidly changing trends of communication within the culture of globalization that we live in. The contemporary society is more and more oriented to the maximum exploitation and adaptation of ICT to the enhancement of communication on multiple levels. Different social environments are embracing and customizing the ICT for their specific communication purposes - from the personal, through the academic, the scientific, the journalistic, to the politic. Crucial in this respect is the concept of WEB 2.0, in whose evolving analysts are seeing not just amended applications and enhanced software possibilities, but also the signs of a changing ethos (Lankshear, Colin; Knobel, Michael, 2007) and the necessity to examine and consider new literacies (Warschauer, Mark, 2007).
To begin with, an outline of Web 2.0 within a general understanding of the Internet is needed. 'Web 2.0 is the popular term for advanced Internet technology and applications including blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasting, mash-ups, and social networks. One of the most significant differences between Web 2.0 and the traditional Web is that content is user generated, and there is greater collaboration among internet users' (Lai, Linda S L; Turban, Efraim, 2008). With all its various applications and with the fast spread of the successful social networks, blogs and broadcasting channels, many researchers see Web 2.0 as an endless source of possibilities that are being opened and what is more important -commonly developed by the users or by users' feedback on international level.
The idea of customization and open participation in forming the web space is not new and is not reserved strictly to the web. Interactivity is popular with all media nowadays, but internet, with its omniscient presence allows a qualitatively new concept of communication, which develops alongside with the evolving of Web 2.0. The new communication washes away the borders producer-consumer, common-private, society-individual, and nationality-foreignness. Web 2.0 allows for all the traditional drawback and conventionalities of communication and media consumption to be obliterated or at least recreated. People more and more sift the incoming information through their personal necessities and this is due to the interactive nature of WEB 2.0, which allows for multitasking and personalization. How far will the global society use these beneficent possibilities and adapt them to improvements worldwide is up to every one of us.
The main difference between what is generally defined as Web 1.0 and the present Web 2.0 are the participation of the users in the formation of the available software. Some researchers even refer a changing ethos of the use of the web to a changing socio-cultural mindset (Lankshear, Colin; Knobel, Michael, 2007). Net researchers like the latter and researchers of the net-generation on multiple socio-cultural levels, such as Mark Warschauer, put forward the notion of a new set of literacies that need to be first defined and investigated and then thought over and implemented into society, in order to better use ICT and the benefits they could provide to society. These new literacies are already part of our life and the society as a whole uses them quite a lot, hence the study of their possibilities and setting some standards for their better employment would enhance processes in society such as education, intercultural communication, gathering data representing social trends, etc.
At the same time, although with its various possibilities it transcends many divides based on socio-cultural traits, the applications of Web 2.0 have its benefits for strictly personal employment. For instance internet nowadays allows an individual or a group to find soul mates in the whole world, to find people who are interested in exactly the same thing and who share something. Thus it is a channel that allows both generalization and particularization, often applied to the same objective or task. 'The Social Web provides the means to identify other people (who are only known indirectly or are perfect strangers), to assess the benefits of engaging with them into a social exchange and to continue the interaction'. (Nabeth, 2009) These possibilities help for creating and maintaining a spirit of community in the Web 2.0. The advantage of the asynchronic communication leaves many
open possibilities for users to get to know one another and what is more- to get to know only those parts of themselves that they are really interested in. Web 2.0 allows for a customized person-to-person relationship, which leads to evolution in communication. 'The socialization process differentiates a Web 2.0 social networking community, and some earlier virtual communities from traditional Web 1.0 Internet groups. The process of socialization involves activity where people are shaped by the norm, culture, and value of their identified group.' (Lai, Linda S L; Turban, Efraim, 2008)
Since people employ more and more software and existing net sites in their everyday life on multiple levels, the etiquette of communication in the different social areas (family, close circle of friends, colleagues, international partners, interest groups, etc.) necessitated a net etiquette to emerge. It is curious how easily a given trend is rendered successful by its viral dissemination. The popular things about a site or an internet practise hook users immediately. By the multiplying users' feedback it is very easy for the desired applications to be developed. Thus oftentimes, while using the web to stay in touch with friends, to instant-message or email, or to look for some information, by every click a user communicates his choices and needs to a system that is greedy for this data and that is always ready to readjust to accommodate these needs ever more.
A point worth making to illustrate the invasion of internet-mediated communication are the sites for offering and finding work. In Bulgaria, for instance, there is the most popular site jobs.bg, which is constantly evolving to accommodate better both the employers' and the potential employees' needs. The improvement is focused not only on software fixes of the site, but also on issues connected with its ethos. It is a unique tool in searching a new job and although some may argue that due to its online (as opposed to face-to-face) nature there may arise lack of serious engagement, there is a growing tendency for both parts to adapt a special etiquette of trustworthy behaviour and
to act according to it. The new-age concept that 'one reaps what one saws' is more and more at play on the web. A person who has just entered the world of employment cannot even imagine how much more expensive and confusing the initial, pre-interview steps in job application used to be just a several years ago. Nowadays one needs only to comply to certain rules and to go through some user-friendly steps, and the initial work is done. No need of phone calls (curiously enough phone communication is still expensive, despite the advent of computer- and internet-mediated communication), no need to go around the city to fill in complicated applications, one sits or even lies comfortably in front of a computer screen to one's liking and sends applications and resumes to attractive employers. And these are initial stages of process that would certainly be an important part of one's life- their working environment. Thus far and even further has reached the ICT communication - it is integrated to varying extend in everyone's social modi operandi.
Opponents of the Web as a communication mediator often voice the concern that it is a threat to face-to-face communication, a threat to one's socializing. Researchers in the field of education and technologies, such as Warschauer, get to the conclusion that although most of the contemporary students are feeling perfectly comfortable with the extensive use of ICT in their courses, they all agree that the role of the teacher and their live contact with him or her is crucial to a successful studying environment. I can perfectly agree and even add, from my personal experience, that Web 2.0 applications, such as the virtual environment that we use -namely Moodle, enable us to communicate with our lecturers and to exchange ideas and know-hows even after the course is over. The courses, with their rules, readings and assignments being posted online, aid clarity and explicitness in the student-lecturer relation. The forums where students' assignments are being posted and the possibility to comment and discuss them also take the learning communication one step further. What is also important is that by using internet and the specialized moodle sites to state one's concerns or impressions, one is not encroaching on the lecturer's or one's colleagues personal
space and privite time, meaning that they can answer at a comfortable for them time. This sets the specificly-conditioned by its academic status communication at ease.
Another thing that the interactivity of Web 2.0 allows is to work internationally at home. The virtual working space enables active communication and participation on a given task for situations when being physically present at an office is not possible. An example a friend of mine that works for a competitive international company. She is presently pregnant, but can still greatly perform her job as a call center agent, and the possibilities that virtual environments have, allow her to do her job from home, while being 100% into the required job-tasks. The Web thus enables a specific communication, it allows for certain communications channels to be actively used, while others remain closed, which is something that nothing else except ICT can give us.
ICT and Web 2.0 accommodate our growing multi-tasking approach to all the aspects of life. Being able to customize one's life and communication via ICT is giving us freedom within the irreversible entanglement of technologies and social network. But the growing complexities of life are more and more connected to the time of globalization and with the case of Bulgaria - the participation in structures such as the European Union. Communication is a priority in our lives and the better we handle it, the more efficient we are. And efficiency after all is connected to the moral values of a society. Family and close circle of friends are a priority in every society and by avoiding the hypocrisy of superfluous communication, we are able to assign more time to the important once without being less successful on other communication levels. This is what customization in Web 2.0 helps us to manage better and better.
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