Oh, Internet . . . What have you done?

The Internet has never been subject to a singular definition. It has come a long way from its humble military origin in the early 60s to the counterculture in the 80s (Curran et al., 2012).

Apart from the instant access to, well, everything, what did the Internet give us? A whole new way of communication.

The ultimate commodity: social media. They too started off quite differently compared to where they are now. It is due to technological development and the revolution of the user.

But first, some history.

With the advent of Web 2.0, later an infrastructure, a significant change occurred: global online environment shifted from the concept of utility of data to customized services, which would generate a specific outcome (Dijck, 2013).

The scene was now set. Social media were ready to rise and efficiently ‘occupy’ our time.

It all began with a simple idea: bring people’s everyday interactions online. Create a platform for the distribution of content among people. ‘Connect and engage.’

It was a remarkable success.

Finally, it would seem, the time of total user domination has come. But it did not last. For by providing the so desired ‘two-way’ communication (Dijck, 2013), the efficiency of the Internet and the social media platforms within it triggered the arrival of commercial interest, which recognized the potential for long-term profit.

What were social media? What have they become?

A tool for ‘standardization’ of content and ‘assassination’ of natural human kindness and sympathy? 

A platform for controlled and monitored freedom of speech and a bearer of commercial business interests?

Maybe none, maybe all. Or maybe we are still searching for a definition.

Until then, we can only heavily sigh at the corner of our little cyberspace balloon: ‘Oh, Internet . . . What have you done?’

 

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1 Comment

  1. I completely agree how you address the growth of social media, which has risen to’ occupy’ many peoples lives.

    What has the internet done? It not only brought everyday interactions online but it has changed the way we obtain, create and share information and entertainment drastically. The internet and social media also connects us with people we would never interact with in day to day life.

    I agree that the rise of social media has triggered commercialism online as the popularity of online communities proved to advertisers and investors that they can reach large audiences from a single webpage.

    Your two links to Guardian articles are also interesting as one looked at the impact of social media currently while the other looks to the future of social media branding. Overall you address many aspects of the internet and social media over time in a short post, making it engaging read.

    Liked by 1 person

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