This week’s assignment for Foundations of Digital Media is to choose one of the Questions to Consider from the book “New Media” by Terry Flew and Richard Smith (My professor), and post the answer online.

The question I chose was “How is communication mediated by technology? Why is this significant?”.

For me, this is a very serious topic, and my answer consists in a few Pros and Cons.

Starting with the Cons, it is very easy to become depersonalized and miscommunicate online. Either by being anonymous, or simply by not being able to express what is really intended to be said because of the lack of emotions, human reactions and interaction with plain text. Emoticons can help, but again, they don’t really express the same reality for everyone. For some people, they can be a mirrored image to what is being felt, while for others, emoticons can come across as something childish and non professional. Nowadays, this style of communication is one of the styles which is being more used, and can be encountered on text messages with phones, e-mails, blogs,  social networks and a few apps.

There are other ways of communications available in almost all of those technologies, such as video calls, voice calls and group video chat, but my guess is that it is not being widely used yet because people are still not very comfortable talking to a device with a moving image and sound of another person which is not really tactile. Another guess of why they are not being widely used yet is because maybe the younger generation is loosing completely the sense of real human interaction, and they don’t see the need of sending and receiving information such as facial expressions and tone of voice, and how greatly it can affect the interpretation for both sides of the message being sent.

I do believe that in the future, people will have to be taught how to re-interact with people and how to deal with human emotions online, and slowly start to migrate to the video instead of plain text when something important need to be said. Still text is more practical, and for basic information, I believe it will still be the standard for a long time.

There are also a lot of Pros, and as an example mentioned on a post by the Denver Technology blog article about this same topic , the possibility of companies hiring employees to work from anywhere in the world. At the stage we are right now, it is very easy and simple to arrange video conferences with multiple personas from multiple countries. It is beneficial because people with different cultures living on different realities across the globe can share and contribute to a common ideal or goal. The flexibility is way higher, and the possibility of reaching someone quicker than from inside the same office is real.

Another Pro, is the opportunity and ability to offer education inside virtual classrooms  for people with time constrains, or even with money problems, since in some places of the world, is cheaper to afford a computer with high speed internet then affording years of school for proper education. An example of this can be found in the article  “The ‘Virtual Classroom’: Using Computer-Mediated Communication for University Teaching” by Starr Roxanne Hiltz. Despite this article is from 1986, it is very much related to todays reality, only with a few constrains. It was proven by the study that some students reached higher grades and better interaction inside this experiment and test, even before all the video conferences with high speed connections were accessible. I believe that if this test was done again today, with modern and accessible technology, the results would have been even better.

Even music, via youtube channels, can be mediated by the technology, having full orchestrations being recorded live from personas located all over the world playing the most interesting and non-conventional  musical instruments. Music is still one of the most powerful tools of communication, and the idea of this interaction and iteration using social media as a tool can be groundbreaking.

To conclude, this topic is very significant since communication mediated by technology is the reality for a huge portion of the worldwide population, and being aware of the threats and opportunities this style of communication can bring, is necessary to everyone who uses communication by technology, no matter if it is on a simple text message or in a multicultural video conference for a global corporation. In my opinion,there are no greater advantages over disadvantages or vice-versa, because the consequences can be enormous in any of the cases.

Hope you enjoyed it,