“Network literacy is not merely knowing about this, it is doing it. It is in this doing that we can understand that literacy is an applied knowing, or if you prefer a knowing through doing… It is being comfortable with change and flow as the day-to-day conditions of knowledge production and dissemination, and recognising that all of this may change, and appear differently in six months. What underlies such change, however, are the principles of distributed content production and sharing, folksonomies, trust networks and having access to skills that let you collate and build with these varieties of content and knowledge… Network literacy means recognising that there are no longer canonical sources and having the skills to find what it is you think you want, of being able to judge it, and then of being able to incorporate this, in turn, into your knowledge flows. Finally, networked literacies are marked by your participation as a peer in these flows and networks — you contribute to them and in turn can share what others provide.”
Miles, Adrian. “Network Literacy: The New Path to Knowledge.” Screen Education Autumn.45 (2007): 24–30.
The aforementioned topic problem addresses several different theories, arguments, and discussions revolving around the subject of network media and network literacy. Network literacy is defined as “being able to participate as a peer within the emerging knowledge networks that are now the product of the Internet” (Miles, 2007), while media is commonly seen as “the main means of mass communication” (Landow, 2006).
Examples of the issues that are explored are the seemingly ever changing and never ending development that society has witnessed with media and technology, as well as the importance and relevance of promoting oneself online in todays predominantly digitally based consumer market. This raises several questions as to what will happen later, what does this entail for the future of media and technology? Based on current trends, what can we assume and predict will happen? Will the Internet ever die out or be replaced?
To answer these questions, I will be looking at the Meta Company and their recently released Meta 1 Developer Kit. This is a pair of glasses that provides the user with an augmented reality, a technology whereby a computer-generated image is superimposed on the user’s personal view of the real world. To put it more simply, it provides one with the ability to “experience a room full of interactive 3D holograms” (Spaceglasses.com, 2014). With this in mind, what could the future of the Internet and things such as social media look like?
Firstly, we must look at an already “dying” technology, one that has been around far longer than the Internet has, and appears to be used less every year since the birth of the online world and digital technology in the 90s. Books have been around since the first century, and have been used for education, entertainment, and to enhance the general idea of “sharing” amongst society. As mentioned in a theory by Douglas Yellowlees, “what can (we) do to mechanically improve a book?” (Yellowlees, 2000). Thus, the creation and implementation of new digital technologies allows humans to easily and freely manipulate and create new ideas, but what more can or needs to be done to improve a simple book? Because of this, books are being replaced instead of reinvented.
We can see evidence of this in today’s world with never-ending new releases of electronic products by major corporations. The amount of competition has forced companies to release a “new” phone every year, each with additional applications that were previously unheard of, or with improvements being made to already existing services.
This music video explores the notion that this rapid development of technology can be seen negatively, and that this digital period is ultimately unnatural. George Landow also touches on this with his theories on hypertext and how important media has become. Landow goes on to say that “all individual texts will electronically link to one another,” (Landow, 2006) suggesting that hypertext will eventually take over and dominate the ways in which we are presented with text. Books and physical pages are a thing of the past, and the consistently new ways to communicate with people that are being introduced must be adhered to, should one want to succeed in the digital world and not be left behind in what many consider to be “the stone age”.
However, Not only have these releases encouraged more sales, but they have completely changed the way in which humans consume media. It would appear that nowadays the trend is to retrieve information as fast and as easily as possible, and this has inevitably lead to a significant decrease in the use of books. For example, people do not want to read through an entire newspaper, they only want the main news and want to be able to choose what they can read at a moments notice. Technology in the form of smartphones and the Internet in general has given us this luxury, and enables us to surf a wide range of sources on the web with speed, convenience, and accuracy. Why bother conducting research in a library with books when you can access an online database and find exactly what you are looking for within seconds?
Therefore it is evident that for the meantime, society wants to maintain this need to be entertained with new gadgets. The idea of hypermediacy and experiencing several different types of media all at once is now fashionable, and the Meta Developer 1 Kit is no exception. Not only did the developers create these glasses with the idea of gaming in mind, but the company also hopes to contribute to the education and healthcare industry (Spaceglasses.com, 2014), something that books used to accomplish.
But why has the Internet become so popular? What is it about this network that has attracted and joined users together from all over the world, and is something that inevitably ends up being accessed by all sorts of electronic devices? According to George Landow, it is the concept of hypertext that is responsible. Hypertext is defined as “text displayed on an electronic screen with references to other texts that the reader can access immediately” (Landow, 2006). A common example of this would be a hyperlink on a web page, whereby clicking it takes you to another address on the Internet. It is due to this convenient nature of hypertext being used within the Internet that facilitates the easy and free exchange of information across the world. The Internet is an open source of a ridiculously large amount of information, and Landow emphasises this importance with hypertext when he says that anything you post online is “in the presence of other texts” (Landow, 2006). This means that opinions and thoughts from anyone can be expressed in this online network, and being able to see what people from different countries and cultures have to say so easily has triggered this viral pop culture of posting everything that happens in your life online.
This opens up the door for several possible functions to be implemented with the Meta Developer 1 Kit glasses. Perhaps initial releases will refrain from having Internet access so as to see what sales are like without the option of going online. However, who knows what later models will look like and what functions they will boast. It may be possible that new trends that enhance this idea of sharing could even be started with the introduction of this new media appliance, similar to Twitter and the birth of the idea of hashtags.
Additionally, we must remember that the Internet is only twenty-five years old (Webat25.org, 2014). Compared to the rest of human history, that is obviously an absolutely minute amount, yet it seems to rule a majority of what society experiences every day. It is estimated that three billion people will have online access by the end of 2014 (Internetlivestats.com, 2014), from this we can deduce this it is still very much a growing trend and the room for potential for the future is great. When you combine the Internet with products such as the Meta Developer 1 Kit, it will most definitely sell in large amounts, it will be another “function” that is not a new experience, but it will be witnessed on something that was only thought possible in the Iron Man movies.
This image introduces another interesting perspective to consider. What implications does this new media platform being released by the Meta Company entail for the future in terms of having a cultural impact on society? An example is provided by Lisa Gitelman, who reminds us how “telephony includes the salutation “Hello?” the monthly billing cycle, and the wires and cables that materially connect our phones” (Gitelman, 2008). Therefore, the Meta Developer 1 Kit has the potential to influence new cultural traits upon society, exactly what has been done with new technologies such as the telephone and the Internet. Additionally, should the Meta Developer 1 Kit be utilised for the reasons mentioned by the company such as education and healthcare (Spaceglasses.com, 2014), it is inevitable that defining cultural traits surrounding this new technology will rise. Education and healthcare are things that we see as vital to our existence and life, and if younger generations are to be exposed to, and taught with this new device, it is only logical that its presence amongst society will grow and the importance of its roles will thrive. Consequently, technology will continue to evolve along side us.
In conclusion, the recently released augmented reality glasses, the Meta Developer 1 Kit, aids the future of digital and network media and technologies in several ways. When the ability to browse the Internet and network with others around the world as society has been able to do with computers and smartphones (which is what has arguably been one of the many deciding factors that has made them so popular) is combined with the Meta Developer 1 Kit, the amount of room for potential for the future is great. Not only in terms of making improvements to the glasses functionality, but also to culture, and starting revolutionary trends in the youthful digital world.
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• Gitelman, Lisa. Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture. Cambridge, Mass.; London: The MIT Press, 2008. Print.
• Internetlivestats.com, (2014). Number of Internet Users (2014) – Internet Live Stats. [online] Available at: http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/ [Accessed: 19 Oct. 2014]
• Landow, George P. Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2006. Print.
• Miles, Adrian. “Network Literacy: The Path to Knowledge.” Screen Education Autumn.45 (2007): 24-30.
• Spaceglasses.com, (2014). Home: Meta Company. [online] Available at: https://www.spaceglasses.com [Accessed: 18 Oct. 2014]
• Yellowlees, Douglas J. The End of Books – Or Books Without End?: Reading Interactive Narratives. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.
• YouTube, (2014). Pearl Jam – Do the Evolution. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDaOgu2CQtl&spfreload=10 [Accessed 22 Oct. 2014].
• Webat25.org, (2014). [online] Available at: http://www.webat25.org [Accessed 18 Oct. 2014]