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Networked Society: Connectivity as a Human Right

Introduction

The primary organization I would work for is Ericksson under their development program for greater internet access. One of the defining features of the internet is the sheer amount of information available on virtually every single possible subject that the human imagination can come up with. For most students one of the first resources they turn to is the internet with its wealth of easily accessible information. The media text “Networked Society: Connectivity as a Human Right: Facebook + Internet” focuses on the collaborative aspect of the internet in which people are able to add their own ideas, assumptions and create their own content for public viewing.

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This inevitably created a flood of user created content that surpasses current media trends in television making online collaboration and writing the norm rather than a rarity. Based on the views of the media text, such a situation would be ideal since access to the internet by the remaining 2/3rds of the population would result in an unprecedented level of creativity which would help to elevate such societies to the “next level” so to speak (Athique 2014, p. 5).

What must be taken into consideration is the fact that standard journal articles, literary tomes or various books involving topics of incredible depth are often not available in various developing countries such as Cameroon, Kenya or various Central African states. It can be argued that through the internet, access to the wealth of information that has been generated so far would enable such countries to develop in a better direction resulting in a far more equal global society instead of the present state of affairs where information and the capacity to utilise it are isolated to countries that have broad internet connectivity (Athique 2014, p. 6).

Cultures Reflected in the Text

The primary culture that is reflected in the media text is the current culture of open access to information via the internet. What must be understood is that access to the internet as we know it has evolved from merely being a convenient method of communication and getting information, to it becoming an integral aspect towards developing international collaborative practices as well as enhancing local knowledge through online resources.

Tools such as social media, online academic article databases as well as search engines have transformed the way in which society at the present functions and, as a result, has become so integral to what is presently considered as the “human condition” (i.e. a person having full human rights) that unimpeded access to the internet is now considered as a fundamental human right under the United Nations.

How has the Current Technology Culture Informed the Creation of the Media Text?

The use of technology is so ubiquitous to present day society that its usage is attributable to nearly 70% of an average person’s day with the remaining percentage going towards eating, sleeping and miscellaneous other activities. Technology has in effect changed the landscape of human actions; it has enabled better methods of communication, more convenient forms of transportation, better methods of collaboration and finally a far easier lifestyle for most people (Güzeller & Akin 2011, p. 351).

Based on this, it can be said that due to the introduction of modern technology to the human lifestyle, changes have occurred in both the behavioural and cognitive responses of various populations. It is through such a perspective that the media text was created wherein the concept that some areas and people have almost no access to a fundamental aspect of modern day technology (i.e. the internet) is almost inconceivable and, as such, the media text presents the notion that access to the internet which is commonplace in most modern countries should similarly be placed in the communities of developing countries so that they can also have access to the same benefits (Güzeller & Akin 2011, p.352).

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One aspect that should be taken into consideration though is that the use of technology creates cognitive and behavioural changes which in effect changes the way people perceive and interact behaviourally and socially due to the amount of time devoted to technology related activities. For instance, people that have no access to the internet behave differently to those that are constantly immersed in it (Sassen 2012, p. 455). People that have been constantly connected to the internet and use it as a means of social interaction through social media sites thus consider the act of non-interaction between friends (i.e. online friends) as being completely normal while people from areas without constant access to social media would find such actions to be strange.

This difference in behaviour is of importance since it showcases how different cultures would perceive the value of the internet. For people that have no idea what social networking is, the internet would primarily be a source of information with access focusing primarily on sites geared towards information (Weiss 2013, p. 5). Thus, a broad spectrum application of internet connectivity (i.e. all households having internet) while feasible and necessary in an interconnected Western society, is not really needed in areas where the internet would be geared primarily for research and collaboration (i.e. rural villages).

Thus, when examining the focus of the media text when it comes to providing internet connectivity, it does so through the lens of a culture that focuses on interconnection when in reality, research, collaboration and the application of knowledge gained from the internet would be of greater use and interest for the people in the developing countries that were featured in the media text. While it is understandable that the creators of the media text would focus on the concept of interconnections through the use of social networking platforms, the fact remains that social networking as we know it today is heavily dependent on the technology inherent in smart phones and the wireless infrastructures that have been put in place by phone companies.

The limited amount of disposable income people in developing regions have combined with the inherent cost of buying and maintaining smart phones makes it infeasible for internet connectivity to be introduced in such regions on a large scale (Ames 2006, p.18). There is also the fact that people in such areas cannot afford laptops and personal computers and have little in the way of knowing how to actually use them in the first place. Taking all these factors into consideration, it can be seen that the media text is heavily influenced by the present day culture of interconnectivity wherein it is considered commonplace to be constantly connected to the internet through an assortment of devices (Ward and Wasserman 2010, p. 7).

The problem though with this cultural perspective is that it is simply not applicable in the instance being portrayed in the media text. What is viable is for internet connectivity to be placed in schools so that students and teachers can research, develop ideas and apply them to an assortment of practices (Miners 2013, p. 6). While this was shown in the media text, the fact that it broadened the connectivity to encompass more of the population is simply infeasible given the factors that were mentioned earlier.

How has the Current Online Culture Informed the Creation of the Media Text?

The present day perspective of the online culture is that the internet has provided people with a platform in which to collaborate, experiment and, as a result, create effective social change through various collaborative works. This particular cultural perspective focuses on the fact that the internet acts as an open platform for contribution where user driven content and collaboration drives social and cultural development. Collaborative efforts such as Wikipedia, Wiki’s and social networking sites such as blogs, twitter and online message boards all contribute to utilising the surplus time of individuals towards creating an ever increasing amount of user driven content that contributes towards societal development (Limbu 2014, p. 63).

While not all content is productive, such as the internet meme “lolcats”, the fact remains that people are actually doing something rather than remaining static, this signals a progressive change towards dynamic social interaction. Online projects such as Wikipedia, Project Guttenburg, Ushahidi and various other online drivers of collaboration help to improve the accessibility of information and promotes drivers of interactivity resulting in greater amounts of user driven content. It must be noted that one of the indicators of progressive social and cultural change is dynamic contribution with the internet being the latest and best instrument to bring about such changes to human society (Aqil & Ahmad 2011, p. 2).

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The only problem facing the contributions made on the internet to act as triggers to create change in society is the inherent access of people to the internet. This is one of the reasons why the present day internet culture has advocated for unimpeded internet connectivity that is not subject to government scrutiny (Wang & Su 2007, p. 7). When examining the factors behind online internet culture, it can be seen that it heavily influences the media text since it showcases what can be brought about through online collaboration and communication of people from different parts of the world. This shows that the internet is an important platform for societal change and, as such, should be introduced into areas that lack it (Bukachi & Pakenham-Walsh 2007, p. 1634). By doing so, this would bring about much needed changes both from an economic and cultural standpoint resulting in a far better society within that area as compared to what existed beforehand.

Forms of Media Literacy Required for Media Text to be meaningful to its intended/potential audience

For the media text to be meaningful to its intended audience, it really boils down to an individual’s knowledge regarding internet accessibility, how the internet has influenced and changed modern day society and how having access to it could impact developing societies around the world. Given the fact that a majority of the population of the planet does not have the resources (due to poverty) or the means (geographic isolation) of acquiring networked media access, this would limit the potential benefit the technology would have for the human race as a whole (Goggin 2011, p. 157).

For instance, while internet usage around the world has shown that the number of internet users has an annual growth rate of more than 5 million (which adds to the 1.2 billion estimated internet users around the world), the fact remains that current traditional broadcast media usage encompasses more than 70 percent of the total population of the planet (roughly 4 billion people) (James 2010, p. 373). Traditional broadcast media in this case comes in the form of television and radio signals. The reason having an understanding of this is important is due to the fact that traditional media is more or less static. It does not have the same level of engagement and collaboration that the internet has and it does not allow people to search for particular types of information (Enns & Huff 1999, p. 7).

Thus, by understanding the presence of these forms of media and the complete lack of an internet connection in some areas, this type of media literacy would enable people to understand the importance of the internet in helping to transform these societies. Various studies indicate that maybe in 10 or 20 years time, as internet technology improves and online access speeds enable the same seamless degree of consumption seen in TVs and radios today, then it would be possible for more areas to have access. However, the main point of the media text is that this will not be possible unless there is a sufficient level of concerted effort in bringing this about. This is the primary message that the media text is attempting to convey to its intended audience and it is the focal point of entire article.

Another media literacy perspective that is necessary for the media text to be meaningful to its intended audience is the fact that social media is considered to be an essential tool in the modern day society given the need for people to feel connected in a manner that conforms to the current social predilection towards connectivity via social media sites. Social media has penetrated modern day culture to such an extent that people cannot help but want to communicate via social networks and receive news via their Facebook or Twitter feeds.

This level of communication goes beyond mere email and actually allows people to feel that they are part of a greater whole that they can collaborate with which has resulted in better attitudes towards collaborative efforts. This is an important perspective to take into consideration since it showcases how social media, when incorporated into social environments, can result in greater levels of communication and collaboration. This is particularly important in developing countries where the sharing of ideas, experiences and news is essential towards creating a better social environment.

The media perspective in this instance takes into consideration the inherent benefits that social media has had on populations within the western world and compares it to the lack of social networking within areas without internet access (McClean 2012, p. 6). Through such a perspective, the viewer begins to realise that social media in such areas would help people when it comes to warnings regarding dangerous situations (i.e. the spread of Ebola), new opportunities taking place (i.e. a career fair) or simply collaborating and communicating across long distances in order to achieve a particular end (ex: a joint business venture).

Ethical Perspective Required for Media Text to be meaningful to its intended/potential audience

The sheer proliferation of social media platforms such as blogs, wikis and online forums has created an unprecedented opportunity for people to take advantage of this new social trend in order to promote particular ideas to people via online social platforms. Nearly 22% of all online activity within the U.S. alone is spent on social networking websites and, as such, is indicative of the sheer reach that social media platforms could potentially provide to people and organisations should they utilise such tool.

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Taking this into consideration, one ethical perspective necessary to understand the media text is one that focuses on ethos and how companies that have advocated for greater internet access have positioned themselves in relation to their message of greater levels of internet connectivity for areas that have none. The concept of ethos can be described as a form of guiding beliefs that are an inherent part of a community or nations character. It is used as guide that influences a person’s behaviour to such an extent that by examining the ethos behind a culture you can determine how they will react based on a given situation.

When looking at the message being portrayed by the companies, it is apparently being done from a position wherein they seen the benefits that internet access could have for a local populace and know that if enough effort is implemented, a considerable level of positive change can be implemented. This particular ethical perspective focuses on the concept of CSR “Corporate Social Responsibility” wherein firms realise the need to positive contribute towards the society that they are a part of since this not only enhances their reputation but results in a better situation for potential future consumers. It is based on this perspective that one of the potential audiences of the media text are corporations wherein the creators are attempting to convince them to contribute towards the cause of expanding internet access to such areas and do it under the guise of CSR.

Conclusion

It is important to note that the growth potential of any country is inherently connected to the skill sets possessed by the local population. As evidenced by the case of the Philippines which is known for the quality of its local and overseas workers, having a well educated and skilled population can do wonders for any company that chooses to invest within the country. It is based on this that the program of expanding internet connectivity to encompass more of the present day population is likely to create a better skilled and more educated work force that would be able to address a wide variety of potential industries that may come about within their respective countries.

What must be understood is that aside from a means of getting information, the internet can also be used as a tool for societal change as seen in the case of the Arab spring protests that were largely attributed towards communication between the different groups through social media. An overly corrupt government casts a considerable degree of doubt on the country’s growth potential due to the creation of a competitive environment that focuses on who can give the bigger bribe rather than who could create the largest amount of benefit for the country.

Through the use of social media and the internet, people within towns and cities that used to be at the mercy of corrupt governments could work together in overthrowing or replacing them. This would go a long way towards improving the local business environment in such a way that their investment within the country can be considered relatively safe and would result in considerable gains over the long term. Overall, the message provided by the media text is that the internet can be used as a tool for change; all that is needed is the necessary will to share it with the rest of the world.

Reference List

Ames, B 2006, ‘Intel to Push Low-Cost PCs and Internet Access’, Computerworld, vol. 40, no. 19, p. 18.

Aqil, M & Ahmad, P 2011, ‘Use of the Internet by Research Scholars and Post- Graduate Students of the Science Faculty of Aligarh Muslim University’, Library Philosophy & Practice, vol.1, no. 1, pp. 1-8.

Athique, A 2014, ‘Transnational audiences: Geo-cultural approaches’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 4-17.

Bukachi, F, & Pakenham-Walsh, N 2007, ‘Information Technology for Health in Developing Countries’, Chest, vol. 132, no. 5, pp. 1634-1630.

Enns, H & Huff, S 1999, ‘Information Technology Implementation in Developing Countries: Advent of the Internet in Mongolia’, Journal Of Global Information Technology Management, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 5-24.

Goggin, G 2011, ‘Ubiquitous apps: politics of openness in global mobile cultures’, Digital Creativity, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 148-159.

Güzeller, C & Akin, A 2011, ‘The inter-regional inequality of access to information and communication technology in Turkey based on PISA 2009 data’, Turkish Online Journal Of Educational Technology, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 349-354.

James, J 2010, ‘Mechanisms of access to the Internet in rural areas of developing countries’, Telematics & Informatics, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 370-376.

Limbu, M 2014, ‘Interweaving and Intersecting Global Communities in the 21st Century Global Village’, Emerging Pedagogies in the Networked Knowledge Communities, vol. 1, no.1, pp. 61-85.

McClean, G 2012, ‘SBS multilingual dilemma: Global media, community languages and cultural citizenship’, Global Media Journal – Australian Edition, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 1 – 11.

Miners, Z 2013, ‘Google backs project to slash Internet costs worldwide’, PC World, p. 6.

Sassen, S 2012, ‘Interactions of the technical and the social’, Information, Communication & Society, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 455-478.

Wang, X & Su C 2007, ‘Open Access-Philosophy, Policy, and Practice: A Comparative Study’, Chinese Librarianship, vol. 23, no. 12, p. 7.

Ward, S & Wasserman, H 2010, ‘Towards an Open Ethics: Implications of New Media Platforms for Global Ethics Discourse’, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, vol. 25, no. 5, p. 275–292.

Weiss, TR 2013, ‘Google Joins Group Pushing for Cheaper Internet in Developing Nations’, Eweek, p. 5.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, December 7). Networked Society: Connectivity as a Human Right. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/networked-society-connectivity-as-a-human-right/

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Networked Society: Connectivity as a Human Right." December 7, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/networked-society-connectivity-as-a-human-right/.

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StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Networked Society: Connectivity as a Human Right'. 7 December.

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