Based on Shirky’s and Rheingold’s interpretations of social cooperation in today’s environment, I cannot help but be convinced that our strives and means subconsciously loop through the ideas of social construction of technology [SCOT] and technological determinism, but lean toward the latter.
Today’s understanding of what it means to be social and collaborate in group settings is fairly altered to what it meant years ago. Shirky argues that there is a decline in our need for and ability to obtain social capital due to the “increase in transaction costs” (Shirky 193). People prefer an ‘easier’ method of communicating. Scott Heiferman brings up a striking point, stating that “treating the internet as…[a] sort of separate space…was part of the problem” (Shirky 194). There is a growing disassociation of cyberspace from real world; “of social from real space” (Shirky 194).
This describes the idea of ‘technological determinism”, wherein technology essentially manufactures how society is run. David Reed describes that collaborations and transactions that typically occurred outside the Internet “became absorbed into the growth of the Internet’s functions” (Rheingold 61). This is understood further in the founding of Meetup, with which people use the Internet to find others with similar interests.
Today’s individuals and societies are very smart. We are able to do, create, and develop the unthinkable. I think, however, that we tend to rely on technology to shape how we conduct ourselves. The understanding of the reason and capital behind forming a group or network has evolved drastically. Whether it is for better or for worse, technology and computer-mediated forms of communication have truly changed our sense of what a community is.
Do you agree that there this understanding has evolved? To what extent?
What might be some driving forces for or against this ‘change’?