The Digital Environment: Taking the Long View

4. As in good baking: Changes in the dominant media in a culture take time and the proper conditions.

  • 30 year rule:
    • Communication technology innovations take approximately 30 years to become "everyday." When innovations "hit," although they were a long time in development, they appear "overnight."

      This is a corollary with McLuhan's notion about us seeing new media in the rear-view mirror.

  • Ev Rogers' Diffusion Theory (about when technology will "take", not about how news spreads). In order for new technologies to diffuse, they have to meet a number of challenges:
    • Relative advantages? Is the innovation really better?
    • Compatible with current technology?
    • Easy to use?
    • Reliable?
    • Observability/word of mouth? Especially from early adapters.
    • Fidler adds:
    • Bridges of familiarity (especially metaphors/icons).
    • Motivating socio-economic-cultural opportunities.
    • Suppression of radical potential. (we'll return to "control" in later concepts).
  • Technological Complexity Paradox:
    • Increasingly complex technologies are headed for users with decreasing levels of preparation for using technology.

"As Life Moves Online, an Older Generation Faces a Digital Divide"

  • Curve of Complexity:U-shaped complexity curve

    • high at first; drops and evens out; then rises sharply with innovations
    • The same technology that simplifies life by providing more functions in each device/process, also complicates life by making the device/process harder to learn and use.

Concept 4 Analysis article:

"How Did AT&T’s $100 Billion Time Warner Deal Go So Wrong?."

Want to Learn more?

Pew Research: "Experts Say the ‘New Normal’ in 2025 Will Be Far More Tech-Driven, Presenting More Big Challenges." Full report: PI_2021.02.18_New-Normal-2025_FINAL.pdf in Files on Canvas.

Jonathan Taplin. Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy. NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2017.

Nicolas Carr, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, Norton: 2014.

Bauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don 't Trust Anyone Under 30). NY: Penguin Books, 2008.

Regarding suppression of radical potential, The International Journal of Communication (IJoC) special feature section, "The Arab Spring & the Role of ICTs." (scroll down to FEATURES then scroll down to the bottom of that section and click the +more features tab). If you read these, remember that we learn even more about how totalitarian regimes use social media against protesters as time passes.

(A) Text Reading Analyses

(B) Concept Analyses

(C) Extra Credit (D) Grading
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© Ed Lamoureux, 2023