Then vs. Now

telephoneA pre-digital information system is the telephone which achieves all of Masuda’s key predictions for the information society.  The telephone fosters voluntary communities by connecting people to others that are outside of your economic group.  Telephones let people communicate to anyone and everyone that also has a telephone, this could help create many new communities.  It also breaks down hierarchies by not having just one centralized power of communication.  With phones there are many options of contacting people instead of only having one messenger, there are plenty, so it is much harder to have a hierarchy with so many connections.  Phones can empower citizen movements by creating a new way to contact people with ideas or petitions for social change.  They can spur individual knowledge because people are able to customize their knowledge by talking to certain people and picking what they want to hear or know to go on to self-fulfillment.

The telephone succeeded in all of Masuda’s predictions, but it was specifically intended for all of his predictions.  Therefore, there were some limitations.  The telephone makes it easy to talk to new people in order to foster new communities, but I don’t think it is easy to find new people with the telephone.  Telephones make voluntary communities possible, but they does not create them.  People would have to go out and find each other to get each other’s phone numbers before actually using the telephone to contact each other.  It also breaks down hierarchies, but the services that distribute telephones are still truly in control of what happens.  Citizen movements can come from the telephone, but it could still be more powerful to get a petition signed in person.  Phones are good to get the word out about citizen movements, but there are still more powerful ways to start them.  Finally, telephones can spur individual knowledge, but there are definitely better sources of knowledge besides a phone.

In Web 2.0, Facebook performs a similar function.  It goes much farther than the telephone does in Masuda’s predictions.  It goes beyond just letting you communicate with people to foster voluntary communities, Facebook suggests people to add as friends, lets you connect with billions of people around the world, and you can find anyone without needing their specific phone number.  Facebook also does a better job of breaking down hierarchies by having more information and more opportunities than just one centralized power does.  It’s also much harder to control everything that happens on Facebook than the one thing that happens on the phone: talking.  Facebook is a much better, easier way of empowering citizen movements.  There are more people connected all at once on Facebook that can create bigger, faster citizen movements.  It also spurs individual knowledge faster and easier than the telephone does.  There are thousands of pages on Facebook with knowledge that people can customize while it is much more difficult to customize knowledge from just the telephone.

Facebook is a Faustian bargain because it gives and it takes away.  It gives so many opportunities to communicate with people from sharing pictures, statuses, and sending messages to people.  It’s also a great way to share opinions through all of these along with posting comments and liking or disliking things on Facebook.  It gives by fulfilling all of Masuda’s predictions and letting people customize their experiences on the website.  Facebook takes away because while people are on the site, they are not physically speaking or interacting with anyone.  This deteriorates peoples’ listening, speaking, and people skills.  They are not making eye contact with anyone or using their words, they are just shortening thoughts into written words and exchanging interaction into statuses and instant messages.

Overall, technology has evolved greatly, and with the new technologies, Masuda’s predictions will continue to be achieved.  With more technologies being created, there will always be Faustian bargains.  The telephone and Facebook are two great examples of this.

2 Responses to Then vs. Now

  1. anonymous says:

    BEST THING I HAVE EVER READ THIS GIRL DESERVES AN AWARD AND TO BE AN AUTHOR !!!!

  2. Yes she does. I hope she keeps writing :)

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