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Recently, while enjoying a sunny afternoon with some friends, a few baby boomers I know were relating some experiences that seem quite pertinent to the subject of how communication is or will change. Young Aaron, the son of a guest, was at a loss when told to call home. It seems our young guest had never had to use a rotary telephone. Confronted with this icon of past technology, Aaron went away with a new experience to relate. Another guest, upon hearing of Aaron s plight, related a similar experience. It seems that Diane had given her son a watch for Christmas.
This wristwatch, complete with hands and a face was foreign to this young child who has had the time electronically flashed at him in numeric form for all of his life, without need of knowing how to tell time conventionally. The other side of the coin had Alastair, a telecommunication hardware designer at Nortel, telling of his two daughters, Madeline and Sophie. Eight year old Madeline likes to change the desktop pattern on their home work terminal weekly, while four year old Sophie actually starts up the computer and opens her coloring book program. Although these girls have the advantage of having a hardware designer for a father, it is astounding how fast and early children learn new technologies.
So it seems in this day and age, that the old continues to be replaced by newer and faster mechanical contrivances. We in turn are caused to learn newer and faster ways of dealing with these new technologies, which bombard us daily. The problem with technology is not the change it creates, but the fact that it grows at an alarming rate. In other words, as technology grows it will bring about change more rapidly. In dealing with this technology we can in turn learn how to decrease our work time while increasing our productivity.
Even though we have definitely come a long way from the pony express and telegraph, we still depend upon their descendants, surface mail and telephones. With current technological advancements, it is now possible to communicate across the planet instantaneously. This is thanks to wide-band, fiber optic, and satellite technology, which together make this possible. With the invention of the printing press by Gutenburg in 1434, and subsequently the first book in print, Gutenburg can be credited as the father of the information age. Accompanying the birth of the information age came an explosion of new technological advances designed to improve the ways in which we communicate. These advancements have had many glitches and shortcomings which in turn, have been improved upon again and again, in the years since.
In the twentieth century, engineer Gary Boone can be construed as the father of the communication age with inventing a device called the single-chip microcontroller. Also called the computer-on-a-chip, the device is found in machines ranging from cars to microwave ovens. This specific advancement can be seen as a further development to the work of Charles Babbage who designed a mechanical calculating machine, the Difference Engine, which he never managed to construct The Difference Engine, was given such a name because they were designed to compute tables of numbers according to the method of finite differences. His vision was never recognized in his lifetime, although today it represents the basis for all electronic communication. Overcoming these glitches and shortcomings has been the goal of many scientists, entrepreneurs and inventors.
Painstakingly they moved forward with limited progress until the twentieth century. With the birth of the twentieth century we see a drastic increase in advancements, which have grown by leaps and bounds, spawning the communication age Despite the overwhelming progression of change it is not yet possible for us to all speak the same language, even with all the gadgets and tools that we employ to. Right now English is the predominant language in use on computer networks. If everyone around the world were to communicate in cyberspace, it may seem necessary for one language to be chosen. An alternative would be to incorporate advanced translation programs that could translate any language exactly into any other language, yet since languages are so diverse and constantly evolving, programs like this are virtually unattainable, although not entirely impossible. The problems of information overload and vocabulary differences have become more pressing with the emergence of increasingly popular Internet services.
The main information retrieval mechanisms provided by the prevailing Internet WWW software are based on either keyword search (e. g. , the Yahoo server at Stanford) or hypertext browsing (e. g. , Mosaic and Netscape). It could be some time before these problems are resolved.
As we welcome the paradigm for the future, the communication age, we usher in all the goodies that accompany it, namely networking through computers, facsimile communication, cellular telephones, and television shopping. These advancements have all been designed to save us time and help us communicate with one another. All of these advancements ultimately, are tools of commerce, with commerce being an integral part of how we communicate. Within the free enterprise system, these elements of the wired world, are designed to encourage our interaction and participation. While the next generation will, without a doubt, find themselves lost without these technological wonders, we at the other end of the sphere find it all confounding and unsettling.
Communicating with one another becomes more and more complicated, instead of producing simpler methods. Those with the inability to keep up with advancements will be left behind while those who find there way will succeed Companies the world over are already starting innovative programs through computer networking, where employees who have keyboard jobs can tele communicate. Namely, personnel can work from their homes via computer, to allow them the advantage of increasing their home presence, while not having their jobs suffer. This is done via ISDN links at 128 kb per second. Other innovations that are currently being tested include a pilot project by Rogers Cable, where cable coaxial is used to communicate.
ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Loop) is now in use in Toronto. This recent development allows for a faster bandwidth of 6 Mb per second and will inevitably lead to live images for the purpose of communication. What this ultimately means is that we will be able to see and hear who we wish to, something that right now is just not possible unless you are face to face. The increase in technology over the last decade should be a strong indicator of what will be possible in the next few years.
Although the social impact of such technology is not yet known, one can speculate that we will become less and less intimate with everything to the point that the only true interaction we will have with society will be via a keyboard. The next logical step is for commerce to penetrate into the Internet. What makes the Internet a near perfect vehicle for commerce is that it is capable of linking so many people together all over the world. No matter how small a niche your product or service is aimed at, chances are you ll find some interest because the market is so vast. Right now buying and selling on the Internet is still a new phenomena, and there are a lot of unanswered questions about how it all will shake out.
The most important questions revolve around security and how to maintain privacy on the net. What is meant by security in this context is the risk of someone hacking into your transaction and stealing you credit card or bank card and PIN number. While it is possible for this to happen on an unsecured site, all of the new generation of Internet browser support security encryption protocols make theft that more difficult in the extreme. These security-of-commerce concerns seem to be overrated. As companies contemplate their next move, they are using these concerns as a stalling tactic to investigate and prepare for the day when all this becomes reality. Anyone who wants to can set up shop on the Internet at relatively low cost, with existing, widely used security software.
On many levels the risks are far less than those of the everyday storekeeper who has to deal with break-ins, theft from shoplifters, scam artists, kleptomaniacs, counterfeiters and all the other hazards of retail business. On the buyers side, sending your personal information over a secure Internet hook-up is definitely safer than giving it over the phone. Most of us have done this from time to time to make purchases, like buying airline tickets or making hotel reservations, without concern of how easy it is to exploit this information. The real issue here is not the security of the money, but the information attached to it. In other words, the really important issues revolve around privacy and not so much about security. When we travel around the Internet we scatter bits and pieces of information about who we are, where we go, and what we do, With networked computers as involved in our lives as they are, it is relatively simple to keep track of every transaction we ve made.
Whatever purchase we make that involves the use of a debit or credit card, ultimately ends up on computer. Pulling this information together makes for some juicy marketing profiles that help businesses target their markets in a profit effective fashion towards consumers who are most likely to respond to their blandishments. Subsequently these profiles are worth a lot of money themselves. If one wants to make a confidential transaction, you can always use cash, yet cash and cheques are relic of an antediluvian era. Both cash and cheques are expensive to produce and maintain.
Therefore, the trend is moving towards electronic money and away from cash. Money is just information anyway, so why not just digitize it to make it easier and less expensive to move it around on computers. Right now, the only purchase you can make insuring total anonymity is using the Bell Canada smart chip phone cards, which replace the coins needed for use in local pay phones with a microchip set in plastic. With privacy in mind, these cards seem the prototype for the kind of electronic cash we will see within the next few years. Canada s two largest banks, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and the Royal Bank are attempting to test a pilot project that would use a smart chip card to handle money. Applying this to everyday life would require customers to use a phone connection to debit cash from their accounts.
This cash system, developed in the United Kingdom is called Money, and is intended to replace the use of cash or cheques for consumer purchases. Extensive testing is still on-going in England, yet the call is for commercial availability in 1997. Although this system seems to be safer than using credit cards, from the privacy of information perspective, it appears to me that there would be a risk of loss of cash involved if the card does not have a password connected to it. The problem with credit and debit cards is that they attach your personal information to every transaction, which seems an unwarranted invasion of privacy. These mediums of exchange also raise the cost of goods because of the paper work and administrative costs involved to maintain them. Although it is not too far off before you can load up your smart chip card with cash from your bank account and spend the money on anything you like without fear of winding up on someone s database.
Recent innovations and legislation by the Clinton administration and the United States congress, specifically, the National Research and Education Network and the National Information Infrastructure Act form the basis of current information infrastructure projects in both the private and public sector. This information superhighway, or the NII, is an interconnection of computers and telecommunication networks, services and applications. Today we are imagining a future when all the independent infrastructures are combined. An advanced information infrastructure will integrate and interconnect all physical components in a technology, making access greater for the individual while safeguarding in a neutral manner so that no one industry will be favored over any other. What it seems that the U. S.
government is trying to implement is an Orwellian concept of Big Brother. The social implications of the NII appear at present to be sugar coated as a consolidation of computer resource, whereas in the worst case scenario we could have the government eavesdropping in on everything we do or say within view of a computer screen. The only true privacy we will have will be away from a computer screen (almost an impossibility at the rate of computer ownership growth), or within our own thoughts. The U. S. government feels that every component of the information infrastructure must be developed and integrated if America is to capture the promise of the Information Age.
The implications of such a claim will definitely be of interest as time goes by. Yet here in Canada, as major contributors to technological developments in the field of computer research and hardware design, we are definitely going to feel the impact of the NII. As will the rest of the world. The communication age is changing every aspect of how we communicate, from how we talk to the mode in which we get our message to the recipient. Although it can be seen as a blessing that we are supplied with all these marvels of the technological world, they seem to take away from the humanness of it all.
What once was may never be needed again, namely the personal aspect of face to face communication. While this change may have advantages, the long term affects may include a more submissive, introverted society, unable to communicate without technological devices. As an overview of how communication is or will change, it should be noted that this paper was researched almost totally on the Internet and through personal interviews. Although, intense and concentrated effort was made to make this paper as in-depth and concise as possible, it would have been a harder task without the use of modern technologyCYBERSPEAK Communication in the Nineties and BeyonChristopher J. Bell # 243301 home phone # 233 - 6747 Professor M. Gauthier Mass Communications 27: 111 Date of submission: Friday August 2 nd, 199 Bibliography Hyman, Anthony.
Charles Babbage: Pioneer of Computer. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1982. Orwell, , George. Nineteen eighty-four.
London, Server. 1987 Singer, Benjamin, D. , Communications in Canadian Society, Nelson Canada, Toronto. 1995. Halberstam, David, The next Century, William Morrow, New York. 1991, pp 19 - 20 Menzies, Heather, Whose Brave New World? The Information Highway and the New Economy, Between the Lines Press, Ottawa. 1996. Gugelar, Joy, Dark Ages Lie Ahead, Ottawa Citizen, Sunday, July 21, 1996, p Internet Resources web web Personal Interviews R. Luijkenaar. 67 Rosedale Ave. Ottawa. 730 - 9999 Diane Pro.
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