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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Communication in the Dotcom Era

Communication is a basic human need. It's right there behind food, water, and shelter. People need to interact with other people, and feel involved. Traditionally, this had taken place verbally, in town squares or behind closed doors. The few that were lucky enough to know how to write did, and had lengthy correspondences over the course of years or lifetimes with one another. These traditional forms of communication were functional, and were suited to the needs of their times, but they were also very limited. These limitations namely speed, availability, and specificity, all lent a hand in the adoption of the Internet as a means of communication by the mainstream world at large.

Sure, writing a letter is simple, and it may only take a few minutes to finish. Then, the letter has to be delivered to the post office, either by the writer or a post office employee. What happens from there is anyone's guess. All the general population knows, or has ever really cared to know, is that in 1-3 weeks time, their parcel will arrive at its desired destination, without regard for "Rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor shine". Obviously, this poses disadvantages if the material being transported is of a time-sensitive nature. It is easy to see, then, why the promise of instant, "electronic mail" so firmly and quickly grabbed peoples' attention. To have any information transmitted instantly to any location on the globe is a completely revolutionary concept, and one that has redefined communication today.

Now, since almost everybody has some sort of education, or access to such facilities, the problem of illiteracy is vanishing quickly. This was not the case 500, 100, or even fifty years ago- until relatively recently, only the rich or otherwise self-educated were taught to read and write. This has allowed the newly literate masses to voice their collective opinions, and for the first time in recorded history, actually be recorded. Inversely, this means that for the hopeful entrepreneur, there is a veritable gold mine to be had if one can tap into this collective, "hive" consciousness, and communicate a solution to a need or problem.

The last problem from the print world that has been obliterated with rise is specificity. Previously, the best shots at garnering specific, niche information were still shots in the dark- It could take a collector a lifetime to locate every G.I. Joe action figure ever made in the analog world. Now, thanks to sites like ebay, anyone can locate and order the whole set in an afternoon. With the Internet available to so many people with so many varied and unique talents and skills, it is possible to have endless communities, forums, social networks, or other online gathering places that will cater to an ever increasing demand for more specific, and just plain more, information

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