September 21st, 2008

Chapters 1 & 2

Chapters 1 and 2 of the book, “We the Media” summarize the advances in the World Wide Web, as well as the techniques we now use to express our individual ideas. Most of us have grown up in the digital era, and have been witnesses to the major advances in the Internet. We have become authors, reporters, and eyewitnesses through blogging, and anyone’s opinions can be broadcasted on the web for all to see. Consumers of media are now becoming producers of their own content. Bloggers share their views with those who are interested, and often raise questions and cause discussion that might have otherwise been left unsaid without these media forums. This is liberating to some degree, but also dangerous because it may lead to inaccuracies, untruths, and exploitation. For example, Wikipedia is a resource used by a wide variety of people from professors to students but the material can often be misleading or false because anyone can add content to the page. Peer to peer can also be dangerous, as evidenced in the case of Napster and other peer 2 peer networks that allow people to illegally download music and movies directly from other users. This has negative effects on the entertainment industry, but those that download only every-so-often feel it is unfair to be penalized. In another case, the prevalence of SMS messaging also has positive and negative consequences. Sending short messages to people has never been easier, but some argue that it causes people to be unattached to their current surroundings. It becomes even more dangerous when people message others while they are driving. It is interesting to see how SMS messaging is being used in more ways than to text friends. It is now being used to alert people about potentially threatening situations (such as DU’s message alert system), or being used to send short messages to news stations in the form of “twittering” (CNN actually encourages people to send SMS messages concerning the topics they are broadcasting, and they often showcase them on air.)  And, more recently, Barack Obama used SMS messaging to alert his supporters that he chose Joe Biden to be his running mate, making them feel as though they had an “inside scoop” that others didn’t have. It is evident that these media techniques have developed drastically and rapidly since the World Wide Web was invented, and they will continue to have both negative and positive effects on people.