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The Journey from paper to data; a look at how different forms of media have impacted cultures.
“As we encounter each other, we see our diversity — of background, race, ethnicity, belief – and how we handle that diversity will have much to say about whether or we will, in the end, be able to rise successfully to the great challenges we face today.”
― Dan Smith, The State of the World Atlas.
I live in a world with endless possibilities, being able to connect and control my outcome in the future. Rising successfully would mean seeing and accepting each other’s diversity.
One looks into studying human behaviour within a culture. Through a collection research design that studies the values, behaviour and language of a distinct group within society. Data is collected not from simply asking someone, but immersing yourself in the group. Sitting and watching the chaos that is human behaviour with a naive state of mind and you start the notice the hidden obvious. The insights that are obvious after they are pointed out.
This platform has allowed me to view and understand social, political and economic aspects that I could have never achieved sitting on my bed. Once the narrow-minded world, It has now pushed the world to be more understanding and open-minded. Therefore I question if it was ever meant to be anything more than was it suggests in the name.
The push for technology has affected many aspects of daily life and has branched into many occupations, therefore one has to question the benefits of this, if at all, and the impact it has made towards social and cultural events. Unlike other species in our world, the human species is a persistent one, constantly digging for more of an understanding of their and other beings. These great technological strides have taken us forward to understanding and learning in an efficient way, where an answer to your question is a simple google search.
These forms before my time were not thought of, someone had to think of a platform that had endless information about whatever you wished to look into, at a time that everybody that wanted information had to get it from either a book, television or newspapers. My purpose here isn’t to promote ways of education and entertainment that millions around the world source. Not like a television, a megaphone for single messages, but a way for people to get their voices heard and to form communities based on their shared interests. But for me, it is to understand the implications of this new technology as a social aspect and the impact it has on culture.
As a child, we are constantly asking why things are the way they are as we become curious for knowledge and understanding from birth. This continues into adolescence, studying further, and going back in time to link entities to where they originated and find the answers. Therefore I question, why are we the way we are? Moreover, has the advancement of technology pushed us into a different direction?
Writing is the most powerful tool of communication created by mankind, aimed at everyone, it opens up a world of not only knowledge and facts, but a life of imagination and curiosity. Books are the original forms of data and have been around since their origins within Asia as hand-printed documents. A physical object of pages bound together with a spine, not just a string of words, but a thing held by human hands. “Books are also objects, manufactured objects, owned objects, objects that have been marked by pencils and time and coffee cups and the oils from our skin”.
If you run your hands across the spines of your favourite bookshelf at the local library, how many different subjects can your fingers glaze upon, in search of the exact understanding you require. They tell us of facts about nature, about science and mathematics, and even books about the people who write all of these books. There’s a world of information simply at our fingertips. We study these in various different ways and for various different reasons. Some for pleasure and enjoyment, some have the audacity to make pencil marks within the pages. I see many faces pondering and often looking bewildered over textbooks for studying and the half-open eyes, exhausted from cramming.
I begin by discussing where it all originates from for many of us; childhood. The massive expanse of children’s books is what begins to develop our minds and understanding of the world. We learn new words and meanings through colourful characters and challenging vocabulary, and it’s when being very young that we are the most influenced and impressionable.
What comes to mind is the importance of stories such as The Ugly Duckling and The Velveteen Rabbit. At a time where books were the only available source of information and learning, stories such as these were produced, having a huge impact on how children of such differences might perceive the world and not feel underrepresented anymore.
The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen is a great example, as the fictional story explains though beautiful ducklings, that everyone should be accepted even if they do not look like similiar or even have the same culture as you.
“It felt quite glad at all the need and misfortune it had suffered, now it realised its happiness in all the splendour that surrounded it.” (Anderson, The Ugly Duckling, Pg.7)
Such a child’s book have enormous lessons regarding discrimination by not judging others on their physical appearance. All of this was done through a child’s story.
Everyone has a place where they go to escape all the pressures and worries of life, the collection of books are found in spaces that are filled with murmurs and whispers. Endless aisles of books, people weaving in and out. Showcasing the true seeking of adventure. My local library is where I find peace and solidarity. Gothic architecture runs throughout the building, decorative pieces run parallel with the rows of books. Walking through narrow rows of perfectly aligned books. The high ceilings, with specs of light cascading all the way down to the dusty shelves below. Some are dustier than others, living a life of neglect. Containing stacks upon stacks of ink pressed papers and information regarding any subject you could possibly envisage.
As I sit down with my book of “Mies in America”, I inspect my surroundings, seeing the people around me, I wonder what they’re looking for and what are they into from the slot that they have placed themselves in. I also think about what kind of person would find themselves in a library. Why would you want to go to a library? Is this space attractive for a select few? They are the seekers of information; the inspectors of fact and knowledge. I see faces of people with a passion for what they do and the hunger to know more. Aspiring individuals embedding their heads into their future. Therefore, the space that we call ‘Library’, created by brick and mortar, a space of silence and education; has created a cultural impact through having space where passionate educated individuals are surrounded with others of similar understanding.
The Underground Chair.
For the old school amongst us, they carry the news with them on sheets of broad paper, folded into neat little rectangles under their arms, some thrown out on the floor with pages from today’s headline spewed out. Although not as predominant now as online articles are today, newspapers were the original of their kind, bringing the important headlines and global topics to people that take interest in their perusal. They are an essential medium for communicating stories that naturally affect us as a society and the events that shape our culture and way of living on a day to day basis. It’s noticeable that each newspaper holds its own political stance and whether readers chose to pick up their news based on this, is entirely dependant on their political alignment too.
Examples such as the Metro and Evening Standard are easiest to come by, finding them often located behind tube seats or half of their pages scattered about the underground exits. You can always find one lingering around each corner. Blue stands side by side sits next to the barriers of the underground. Stacks upon stacks of papers being slowly neglected as each passenger walks by. They are a jumble of mixed information, appealing to the mass of travellers that cross their path each day. From shocking headlines of East London murder victims, to fast food vouchers on the go, there’s never a loss for choice amongst these pages.
The initial cultural and social divide stands within the fact that we all have our own political views, but these big tabloid companies feed into this and encourage the divide further. If you were to read a left-wing based paper such as The Guardian, you will often read up on the stories in favour of the minority. Whereas right-wing publications like The Telegraph, focus on the heroic nature of police brutality against the minorities and the injustice given for theirs and the governments hard working actions. People of a certain opinion will already know which publication they gravitate towards but someone who is particularly young and impressionable may seek to read these papers and be inflicted with heavily biased viewpoints from the writers.
The physical newspaper has become not just a source of news and political debate that people can simply pick up on their travels but used more of a tool that has affected our culture. The underground is a perfect representation of this, the silence, lips sealed and the empty feeling that makes us look down to our papers. A woman folding her paper, that I can only assume she has finished, a silent language created to let the passengers know to make way. Anything not to converse.
End of my bed.
The number of people watching TV grew in 1950s drastically. A form of black and white Television had taken over the nation and the advancement of broadcasting had every resident wanting one of their own. Networks were able to broadcast the same thing at the same time, all across the country, there was no separation, people in the city were watching the same things just as the people out in the countryside.
Television is a vital source of media and communication due to their vast expanse of channels and information streamed through these. Through one space we are now in a position to find out about a range of topics, without requiring reading or investigation, but to simply listen and watch. Though controlled, it is a megaphone for single messages, a screen of unlimited information that is in the comfort of your living room is revolutionary. Reaching for the remote, and skimming through channels that tickle your interest. In my very own armchair, I can explore the mass of desert sands and sail the rough seas. In the comfort of my room, I am suddenly aware of everything that is beautiful, from the grace of the African elephants to the Great Wall of China. All of these wondrous places can all be found with just the touch of a button.
My first television. A tiny screen of pixels, running across a thick glass surface, providing a source of joy for hours on end, eventually my eyes would start watering. It sat so proudly on top of my desk, right at the end of my bed so I could still see; it was fascinating as a child to have one and have it resting there on the same level as the mattress. I could wake up and go to bed watching television, so much so that it felt as though it had taken over my life.
It was a clunky unit, with a curved glass screen and an immense back-end that was never not dusty. This evolved from chunky black boxes to slim ultra-thin TVs that mount onto the wall.
It has changed the way we decorate our rooms, now becoming the main focus as we orientate the furniture around its presence.
This new age was where my childhood lies, a time of flicking through channels and watching endless hours of cartoons and documentaries, being able to explore the world from your living room. Originally starting as a modest five channels, it expanded itself into a theatre of millions of voices, all from a single screen into a living room. Once the world was introduced to television, others forms such as newspapers began to fade into a distant memory. Many people found television as a live newspaper and an escape in the form of moving images.
The impact this had on family culture was considerable. Instead of parents with their children sitting around the dinner table, they are their meals in front of the glaring box; taking away any real-life communication and replacing it with the buzz of someone else’s life more interesting. ‘How was your day?’ became ‘Stick channel one on!’ and so forth. Instead of people leaving the house to go and support their favourite team, their favourite team came to them in their house.
The internet is a wide network that is able to connect computer networks around the world. It has revolutionised our lives with its global nature and has allowed us to interact with one another even more. Main features that the internet entails are its dense information library and ability to enable us to do just about anything we desire. We are living in a time where the world is literally at our fingertips. The Google app on my smartphone…tap, tap, tap…within less than a second I have all the information I need.
Trying to find the source of the internet. Running my hands through the back of the computer wires along to the modem and then into the telephone port. Is this the internet? A small wormhole with a flap on top of it? It is not a physical thing. I cannot reach out and touch it like the glasses on my desk or the pencil I write with. It‘s an invisible force that dances around the room and floats over our heads. We cannot see it and we don’t need to, to know its there.
The internet opens up opportunities to have access all around the world at any time and any place. Unlike other forms of media, the internet enables the user to be walking within a space whilst also learning about it’s fascinating details. You are no longer restricted to that one room. You are as free as your imagination will take you. I could be strolling through the Vatican whilst searching up its deep history. The late renaissance style of its architecture and the significance of its being. All held within my hand whether I am there or not.
Unlike TV and books, a platform for single messages, the internet is a way for people to get their voices heard and to form communities based on their shared interests. A platform for not just information and education, but a space for social aspect of our culture. A place that we have the capability of connecting to one another and see what each and other are doing.
I live in a world that moves too quickly, and the effects are always noticeable once they’re too late. As much as the internet is a great tool of moving forward, it still comes with its many issues.Being a spectator, as it all unfolds before me. We all have our fair share of insecurities and some we speak openly and other we choose to keep to ourselves, comparing yourself to others has now become the norm. Once I felt as I had my own beliefs, but are now a mixture of pixels. I am the subject. In this sense, it concerns me. I am now a part of the scheme that promotes connections, but I feel more disconnected from reality than ever. I watch for my own entertainment, a couple of hours before bed, when I’m eating and when I’m supposed to be doing work, It’s in these times, I look at my own behaviour and reflect in my incapable urge not to entertain myself through means watching others achieve their successes. I like to be alone in these times, as I feel frustrated when interrupted, as I spent my four hours and twenty-three on my pointless journey of skimming, I wonder if I have been affected.
I don’t know what being apart of the scheme means and what it does to me. It’s obvious that I am, a mark, yet a mark that links me to nothing either precise or concrete. It’s not a sign of belonging, not linked to a belief or a religion, more of a culture.
The online world has made such a great impact on our lives and culture that we can hardly go a day without it. We now have the ability to see into other cultures around us and develop our knowledge, but equally those who have less understanding now have the access to easily and comfortably discriminate from behind a computer screen. Socially is affects us because we are able to keep up to speed with what’s trending and new, and adapt our lives to fit in accordingly. Culturally, as mentioned, we are more knowledgeable of the people around us and can share in other cultures by celebrating them and potentially sharing in their ideas.
The severe amount of users connecting to the internet shows how it has become a daily use in our lives. Being constantly connected makes people feel safe as they are finger tips away from their loved ones. One can argue that being online over a certain amount of time can make one feel that they are disconnected from reality.
The subject is too complex to have a full stop against it. I can only comment on my own experiences from growing up in a world of thriving televisions and the unlimited internet. My observation is that this topic is not simply how amazing new technology is and how fast we can get from A to B with less hassle. Getting information fast is great, but do we need to know everything at fast speeds? Technology has not just affected our daily lives in this manner, socially we have been affected in that we cannot go without it. So i question; was it all worth it? My impression is that the internet has taken us to a future that we could have never imagined. It has opened up the possibility to have future developments and keeps one another connected. In my own reflection, i agree that the socially it has a negative impact, nonetheless the internet is not based around each individuals personal use and taste, therefore it is the responsibility of the user to use the platform of its benefits as the adverse features is a entity that one can control.
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