The development of the Internet allows new possibilities of communication and interaction between people. Blogs become to play a crucial role in the everyday life of people and increase social interaction between people from different parts of the world. Blogs represent a unique communication environment with their own rules and principles located in cyberspace. Blogs became possible only with the development of the Internet and information technologies. One of the biggest pitfalls of cyberspace has been that it gave rise to one more form of a divide amongst the society, termed the digital divide.
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But at the same time, cyberspace has provided many opportunities to mankind to spread education and disseminate knowledge through a number of channels including blogs (Hill and Hughes 1998). Even while managing an organization or community, cyberspace lends a helping hand. Development of blogs on cyberspace, within a section of the society, group of friends, peer groups, etc. are some of the examples which have become quite prevalent in our society today. Though earlier as well, we used to have the concept of the gathering of like-minded people, parties, clubs, etc. but those were more formal.
The main problem of a blog is that it does not take into account social relations and unique communication that emerged in cyberspace. On the other hand, the development of blogs in today’s cyberspace like social networking sites, has made it easier for a wider section of the community to join the group/s and take the benefits, enrich the information database, or help in disseminating the information.
Cyberspace and the missionary zeal of some of the community leaders has further given a flip to such development (Hetherington, 1998). How the curiosity amongst the kids help them in understanding the wonderful world of cyberspace, animations, paintings etc. and how this similar curiosity helps in developing of a like-minded groups of kids desirous of learning skills provided they get an opportunity (Castells, 2001).
Identity and place play a crucial role in blogs defining unique communication patterns and interaction between users. The continuing releases of both the Microsoft and Netscape WWW browsers will greatly extend the ways in which individuals can communicate. These enhanced facilities will be available for intracompany communications as well as those between individuals in separate organizations. In addition to the simple exchange of e-mail messages it will be possible to have a private on-line dialogue with a group of people irrespective of where they are located.
As the sophistication and variety of these new forms of communications increases it will take longer for the technical standards to become defined and globally adopted (Hetherington, 1998).There is an irresistible trend towards the development of new methods of virtual and impersonal communicating with customers: banks and software houses are desperately working together to produce secure payment systems; multimedia companies are desperately working to deliver these services over new forms of communication such as interactive television, satellite television, telephone developments and a whole host of other technological combinations. Enlightened strategists are working within many producer organizations to work out new ways of adding value to the proposition (Castells, 2001).
The most popular blogs communities are the BlogScope, the BlogPulse, Technorati. These search engines help bloggers to find each other and communicate with friends. The understanding of a blog is closely connected with the online identity concept. There have already been a number of references to how the online identity can be used for communications. Applied to online identity, the blog concept can be explained as the collective term that describes the technologies and functionality that make this possible and is simply the applications of communication techniques to individual processes.
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For instance, modern companies are often faced with the challenge of trying to improve the quality and currency of the information they supply to their employees, while at the same time seeking to maximize the flexibility of where and how their staff work. This presents human resource personnel with a major information management task, often conducted over multiple locations in many countries (Hetherington, 1998).
Public relations theory suggests that the various applications of personal identity offer excellent methods of maintaining contact with existing customers, making communications far easier than using traditional methods. In addition, a refined stream of information can be directed towards the individual customer once their areas of interest have been understood. The need to perceive online communications as something directed at a market sector could be a redundant concept as the Internet provides the capability for virtual communications to be directed at the individual consumer level (Gurak, 1997).
For industries where the product can be digitized (for example IT, finance, entertainment and information services) it becomes relatively easy to enable the prospective customer to trial the products prior to the purchase. Blogs may create the facilities to sell direct to the person, but it may be difficult to ignite the change in cultural attitudes that will make this occur (Castells, 2001).
Blogscope is s networking system which units groups of users from all over the world and provide a core for community amongst users. The blunt, but probably most effective way of stimulating such a change of behavior, will be by offering financial inducements. The potential for a company to reduce its cost of sale and administration by having direct contact with the customer should generate considerable savings, some of which may need to be connected back to the customer. There are new opportunities for online providers to enhance their post sale customer support and generate opportunities for further sales.
An online providers reputation is often enhanced or discredited by the way in which it handles enquiries from customers (Gurak, 1997). While the telephone may well remain the most effective medium for customer contact, there will be instances when support can be offered via the Internet. For example, if a query is very complex, the use of an on-screen questionnaire can assist the customer to specify the exact nature of their requirement. In addition, the provision of on-line support makes it available 24 hours a day on a global basis (Castells, 2002).
Within companies it is becoming common for technical information to be collected and disseminated to staff via the Internet. There maybe advantages in making this information, or a subset of it, available as a part of post sale support. An example of this is the way that many software companies now offer their customers the facilities to submit questions on their products and to have access to the knowledge base.
It is clear that there are many options available to a company when deciding how to proceed with exploiting the Internet. Once a decision has been made to begin this process an Internet marketing plan needs to be created. For this to be effective a number of factors need to be taken into consideration, beginning with establishing precise business objectives and measurable targets. Obviously, the plan will only be useful to the extent that it is implemented so the organizational and staffing issues must be clearly defined as must the resulting requirements for direct investment and personnel (Gurak, 1997).
Because of the fast changing nature of the Internet it will be necessary to review and revise this plan more frequently than those from other parts of the organization. There are a number of pitfalls that frequently occur and need to be guarded against during the planning and implementation phases. Too often the group responsible for the implementation becomes separated from the mainstream of a company’s marketing development. Internet-related marketing activity is of maximum value when it supports and extends existing virtual communication tasks as well as in creating totally new opportunities.
Even when a formal Internet marketing plan does exist, it is often not communicated throughout the marketing organization, even to the point where staff are unaware that their company has a WWW site. Apart from being wasteful and unprofessional, this lack of communication can result in staff, who have Internet-related assignments, being unaware of the overall context of their work (Dyer-Witheford, 1999).
Wherever possible users should be encouraged to make the use of the Internet as part of their normal working routine. The long-term objective must be to ensure that all marketing staff are aware of the potential of the Internet and capable of exploiting the opportunities that it offers. There is no single solution that will ensure that it is fully incorporated into all marketing activities but, as with any other major change within an organization, the commitment and attitude of senior management will be key to the success or failure of the project (Castells, 2002).
When these capabilities are combined to address traditional business situations, it is possible to generate communication benefits. By selecting examples from three business functions (HR and corporate communications, purchasing, and finance and accounting) it is possible to illustrate how business entities are already gaining advantage from the blogs. The blogs demonstrate the ability of employees to have continual access to the latest version of corporate directories and the provision of distance learning facilities, through to the ability of the individual to customize the format of financial reporting information delivered to the desktop (Dyer-Witheford, 1999).
An important ingredient in enabling many of these new developments has been the evolution of the intranet. Whereas the focus of the Internet has been to provide access to a wide range of data to an audience that is normally external to the business, the intranet is solely focused on the community of users within the organization. Almost all of the intranet’s technology is the same as that used for the WWW. What differs are types of users and their demands for information. The Glossary provides a more detailed definition of the intranet (Turkle, 1997),
Since individuals become accessible to a number of legally independent organizations, they are assets to a wider community, making them a valuable resource to be protected. In order to keep control over the assets that are invested into these new business alliances, organizations may establish a hierarchical structure of formal control for them (Durusau, 1996). This depends on the significance of the alliance and the potential danger associated with losing key internal resources.
In summary, communication technology can influence organizations through an incremental process starting at the individual level, transcending teams, affecting the entire organization, and eventually redefining the boundaries of the firm. The immediate effect of blogs communication use may only become visible after communication technology has been used intensively for a longer period of time. This tension is reflected in the knowledge workers’ compliance with certain social norms of interaction. Yet, as users, they also create new norms of interaction by choosing to use a technology in an unintended manner, and thereby influencing the norms of the organization.
By changing the social patterns of communication, virtual design dimensions are affected. The use of blogs communication will therefore result in intended and unintended consequences for societies. The complex interaction between virtual space and users makes it difficult to predict the exact path of communication technology influence on organizations over time. Since new cyberspace can provide tools for establishing and supporting links between information, they provide a starting point for knowledge development.
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New community can be used to support information distribution, yet knowledge workers have to use more traditional media to make sense of the distributed information to enable it to develop into knowledge (Turkle, 1997), Essentially, Blog can inspire information sharing, yet it requires human beings to realize their potential. This is the case because knowledge involves thinking about the information. New communication technology can also play a critical role in raising the consciousness of existing links within the organization, since its implementation and use requires renewed thinking about the entire process of information acquisition, distribution, interpretation and storage (Durusau, 1996).
Given renewed thinking about these processes, communication technology implementation may unleash human thought that leads to the development of knowledge. For the organizational infrastructure, appropriate incentive schemes, an open organizational culture, key people and teams need to be readily available to support the development of knowledge. For the communication technology infrastructure, access to a wide range of communication tools is necessary. Communication technology can be viewed as a knowledge development tool that is capable of capturing and making better use of both explicit and tacit knowledge. Yet, it has to be supported by the organizational infrastructure to be functional (Dyer-Witheford, 1999).
Although Blog can be viewed as a tool for learning, its success depends on the ability to identify the different factors that enable and constrain the implementation and use of Blog (Dyer-Witheford, 1999). Without the identification of the conditions that impede and facilitate organizational learning, communication technology is frequently viewed as a static instrument. This limits the potential use of communication technology in enabling learning, since the process of implementation requires an understanding about the involved complexity and dynamics (Rheingold, 1993).
The uniqueness of blogs is that they are based on unique identity of users and social changes in communication and interaction patterns. In blog, context and identity model (like Blogscope), resources in terms of time and money are crucial for Blog to support learning. Since the implementation of Blogscope is a long-term investment, key individuals need to be assigned to keep track of technology use over time and to initiate organizational and technological adjustments that will take advantage of identified opportunities and alleviate problems (Dyer-Witheford, 1999). Without users committed to this role, Blog may not be able to provide the expected value.
Although cyberspace technology has been found to have the potential to change organizational behavior by decreasing response time, by speeding up information processing and altering the time and place of work, there are unavoidable second-order effects that may constrain learning (Maffesoli 1996).
The inability of media richness theory to explain the confounding data evidence has led to the search for broader variables. Rather than viewing richness as a cause for selection, it is perceived as an result of social behavior within organizations. Perceptions of Blogscope attributes are socially constructed through information exchange. This construction may result from, and result in, behavioral patterns of use, co-worker influences, organizational norms, or culture of media use.
For example, if a particular organization has established a tradition of using electronic mail to discuss research and development (R&D) related problems, it becomes a norm based on repeated patterns of use. Since the environment and social interactions vary between organizations, media selection varies between organizational contexts. Given these variations, communication technology will not only be adopted because of its invariant features – for example, speed of communication – but also because of individual a attitudes or group norms towards Blogscope (Dyer-Witheford, 1999).
There are a number of variables influencing media choice from a social influence perspective, a social-collective theory. Among the most important variables are proximity between organizational members, universal access to media, maturity of communication technology infrastructure, position in the hierarchy, recipient availability, and attitude and behavior of salient co-workers (Maffesoli 1996).
The communication problems in blogs are that the greater the distance between Blogscope partners, the higher the proportion of messages that would not have been sent without electronic mail. These messages are likely to be lost through distribution losses, since the capability of reaching multiple people simultaneously is an obvious advantage of electronic mail. The use of Blogscope is associated with the substitution of old media for electronic mail, higher work effectiveness and increased communication flows. This shows that new communication technologies seem to have achieved a valid place within organizational communication.
Since the benefits of a medium increase as the relative costs of adoption decrease, media choice is also determined by the ability to reach all members through a medium of universal access. Universal access is important for two-reasons. If a medium is only used by a small community, and others make use of other media, the organization would be split into subgroups, thus increasing the difficulties of distributing information. It is only when universal access has been achieved that users derive benefits that would not be available if only a small group of people used a medium. Thus use of communication technology is based on reciprocity: the outputs of one user are the inputs of another. Individuals contribute to the collective outcome of universal access through their readiness to reciprocate communication.
Second, the use of communication technology by members of an organization creates a public good that is independent of the efforts of individuals but in order to create this public good, a critical mass of users is necessary Castells, 2001). The critical mass of users reaches a saturation point where more potential users do not positively influence a person’s own usage. In fact, increased interaction may add costs, such as non-work related interruptions or limited technical resources, for example. Thus a critical mass of users is required initially to realize the benefits of a new medium; later use may in fact add costs. This indicates that the benefits of Blogscope are highest when a network of users exists which primarily uses the medium for work-related matters (Hill and Hughes 1998).
In sum, blogs open new communication channels for million of users around the world. From the social viewpoint, a communication problem arises because of natural clashes between written communication and interaction. The users concern for creative freedom, furtherance of the technology, and their own position in a professional community can conflict with the concern for targeted investment in strategic areas, planning and control, and cost and budget. Interest in elegant solutions and autonomy clash with the social and personal needs for a planned way to manage complex projects with many interrelated parts in a cost-effective manner that enhances competitiveness.
Castells, M. 2001, The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business and Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Durusau, Patrick. 1996. High places in cyberspace. Atlanta: Scholars Press.
Dyer-Witheford, N. 1999, Cyber-Marx. Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in HighTechnology Capitalism, Urbana and Chicago IL: University of Illinois Press.
Gurak, Laura J. 1997. Persuasion and privacy in cyberspace. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Hetherington, K. 1998, Expressions of Identity: Space, Performance, Politics, London: Sage.
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Maffesoli, M. 1996, The Time of the Tribes: The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society, London: Sage.
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