Week Two

The emergence of the Internet as a new technology was essential in changing social norms and interactions. In both Turner and Shirky’s pieces, they discuss the development and the use of the Internet in their respective societies and how they further societal interactions and development.

In Turner’s piece, he explains how the development of the Internet and personal computer technology was developed from the seeds of counterculture and that “Hippie ideas” are evident in the technology. The hacker ethic he describes challenged traditional social order and led to the widespread dissemination of information relating to their beliefs and counterculture ideas. The development of computer technology coincided with the spread of counterculture ideas and simultaneously led to more awareness of through the cyber framework.

In “Here Comes Everybody,” Shirky describes how the Internet today is a means of expanding social reach and how easily it is to publish media content on new forms of self expression. This ease of publishing also leads to the development of more self generated content and the spread of new ideas.

In Shirky’s book, he states “Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring. The invention of a tool doesn’t create change; it has to have been around long enough that most of society is using it.” Basically he feels that until a communications tool is widespread enough to be accessible to everyone, it will not spread information quickly enough and to enough people. This viewpoint is different from Turner’s viewpoint who believes that counterculture ideals were spread with the emergence of the Internet. He felt that the Internet was critical in spreading counterculture during the 1970s and 1980s and were somewhat successful.

What do you think? Do you agree with Shirky or Turner depending on whether new communication avenues need to be developed or can be new to effectively spread different ideals and cultural movements?

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1 Response to Week Two

  1. bridgethi says:

    In response to your question, I feel that both Shirky and Turner have valid arguments concerning communication avenues and spreading ideals. I think that Shirky is spot on with his belief that if a specific technology is not accessible to many or used by a great number of people, it will be far more difficult to spread information. However, I also think that Turner is right in the sense that if enough people with a common interest have access to a specific type of technology, they will be able to spread information about their interest. This seems to be what happened with the “Hippie Ideas”; enough people with knowledge and access of the Internet were able to share their countercultural ideals using the tool.

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