Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Social Media...

What many (usually older) people who don't understand is that young people are no more aware of social media and ubiquitous communication than a fish is aware of water- it is simply a part of their environment. Neither is a young person aware of their language- they simply acquire it and use it naturally. But learning a new language in adulthood is difficult, and it's likely we will never become really fluent in the new language. And adjusting to social media can be just as difficult.

Social media are really more about means and opportunity than about content. Since the Garden, people have used whatever means are at hand to communicate. It started with the spoken word, and stayed there for a long time. With the spoken word, stories were heard only within the immediate circle, and were preserved and transmitted within a very noisy channel.

The first huge technological leap was writing itself. Suddenly (historically speaking) stories were preserved and spread faster and farther than could be imagined before. And periodically since, there have been these quantum spurts of technologically-driven increases in the speed and reach of information- think Gutenberg, Morse, Bell.

Did our grandparents many times removed scratch their heads and wonder if parchment and reed pens would really catch on?

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