Friday, May 23, 2008

emergent communication

Sometimes people develop tools to communicate in new ways - new conduits for exchange. And people get involved with each other through these emergent communication forms, which create new social networks and promote creativity between 'anonymous others'. Some of the more noticeable recent phenomena of this kind are shown on this site - RSS feeds, YouTube, comment boxes, social networking, and the like.

But emergent communication forms in themselves are certainly nothing new. Think of the changes that the telegraph led to during the 19th century. Or the printing press in the 15th century. You could also consider "letters to the editor" in a newspaper as being social networking with 'anonymous others' long before there was any internet. I wrote about this once in a paper called Roots and Cyberspace: Linking the Ruthenian Diaspora:

Before the second world war, Walter Benjamin was already saying that mass media could be an alternative to face to face interaction for creating community. Once access to public media became available to all, the gap between author and public would become blurred: "At any moment the reader is ready to turn into a writer".

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