The power is in the network

Look how far society has come since the days of dial-up internet (a painful sound we will always recognise and never forget). We thought we were connected back then, but think about how far technology has already come. As Manuel Castells says, we are a networked society, and he goes so far to say that networks are the “underlying structure of our lives”. You might think that the amount of power that these networks hold in helping run our lives is a scary thing, or that being so connected is meaning that we are being less connected in the physical world. These two thoughts might be true to an extent, but the pros definitely out weigh the cons.

Everyone with an internet connection now has access to knowledge and information that they may not have before. Learning has advanced from taking notes from a teacher and textbook, to listening to podcasts from your university or watching TED conferences and being apart of the Kahn Academy. All information is just a google search away.

Traditional ways of doing things are being bypassed and new business models are constantly being developed, not only with education, but social events, shopping, leisure, news, and the list goes on… As barriers to entry are so low that it is possible for us all to develop apps or websites to make life easier, or more exciting.

And for those who think that being a networked society where half of the online population is a Facebook user, and millions of them twitter users, is making us more distant in the ‘real’ world… the internet is responsible for spreading ideas and knowledge, allowing for new talking points and experiences for everyone to share and enjoy.

8 thoughts on “The power is in the network

  1. I remember those painful days of dial up, but sadly I still complain when my high-speed Internet is TOO slow. And I’m sure I’m not the only one!

    Also a prime example of the way “traditional ways of doing things” have evolved or are being bypassed, as you said above, was illustrated in an article I was recently reading called’ Do you like to “sofalise”?’

    Basically, the article describes the so called ‘new’ way people stay in touch. Instead of catching up with a friend over coffee (face-to-face), many would rather, or do actually, stay on the ‘sofa’ with their beloved digital devices and tweet to one another or Facebook chat to catch up while watching eyeing off the TV. The positives of this form of socialising allow people to catch up anywhere and at any time, however it was quickly pointed out that the downside of spending quality time via social media is that virtual communication is now relied upon and somewhat isolating themselves from physical contact with our peers.

  2. I definitely agree that networks have had a massive impact on education. Not only has access to information increased, and the sharing of information has been made quick and easy, the Internet has provided the ability to collaborate in a global space, for example through wikis such as Wikipedia and platforms such as Google Docs.

    In terms of whether our networked society is more distant… I believe that we are a bit less connected in the real world because of these networks; whether this should be a concern or not is a different question.

  3. Your comment about all infomation being only a Google search away is quite accurate and exemplifies just how much the internet has been integrated in our lives. When my family ask me a question about almost anything, I tell them to Google it. However, my parents ( I’m sure they are not the only one) still can not get used to the importance of internet use. They have not bothered to learn and adapt with the development of technology and now find it difficult to utilise programs and gadgets that we take for granted.

    The knowledge of using basic technology is now seen as a given – an essential piece of knowledge that is assumed to be known by everyone and this was shown to me when I bought a Samsung Galaxy SII and it did not come with an users guide and nor did the new laptop I bought. The depicts clearly how significant the use to technology has become in communication and everyday life.

  4. Its kind of ridiculous when you think about it, seeing as we say its a google search away, but in all reality half the time google predicts what we are going to type in before we even do it…
    Therein lies the question of what is next? I mean we have advanced so far in the last 162 years tech wise, how much further can we possibly go? Everything is available wireless and has internet and interactive capabilities, so really what is next?

  5. I will never get that mind numbing dial- up internet sound out of my head! It was like nails on a chalk board.
    I totally agree with your comment about every solution simply being a google click away. Every problem or question that I can’t answer, the first thing I do to resolve it is search google. And almost all of the time this mehtod gives me the answer I needed.
    The fact that the networked society is making us more distant in the real world is a sad truth. I try my best to keep in touch with friends face- to- face but it seems it is the easier option to just jump on Facebook. I worry what this might mean for younger generations social skills in the future.
    A very insightful post overall.

  6. You make a great point in regards to the internet and its impact on education. I find it hard to believe that people used to just read books in order to get the information they needed to do an assignment. The ease of finding information on the internet has changed things dramatically. You just have to type a few key words into google and immediately you have access to millions of articles at your fingertips which relate directly to the topic you need to research. The same applies to internet shopping. I myself can personally say that i no longer visit the shops to find clothes and just shop online due to the ease and convenience.

  7. you make a really good point with this post. Ah the days when we had to wait an hour or more just for the internet to start up now you just turn on your laptop and click google chrome or whatever browser people use. Nowadays Google is the god of the internet the brain and center of all knowledge on the internet. I shudder to think of a life without Google sad I know. Maybe in the future Google we won’t need teachers. Don’t know something? ask google. Just a ridiculous thought 😛

  8. Tash I’m glad you brought up issues surrounding the online population and how we are apparently more ‘distant’ in real life. Your response, that “the internet is responsible for spreading ideas and knowledge, allowing for new talking points and experiences for everyone to share and enjoy” was really well thought out and is so true. Where would we be without everything we have access to now?

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