According to the most recent published data, there are more than 2,400 million Internet users worldwide, 2,200 million email accounts, over 1,000 million Youtube or Facebook users, almost 700 million active websites, and more than 2000 million Twitter users.
The data on the birth of the digital world are always spectacular. One of the questions we ask ourselves as a result of this information is whether or not the volume of technology that we have incorporated into our daily existence has changed our lives. I don’t know if we live in a more individualistic or more personalised world, but it is evident that digitalisation has generated a new form of human interaction, which in turn has affected all parts of our society. Do we now act more individually or more united? Are we more interconnected or more isolated? This must be one of the most difficult questions to answer, one that can hardly be resolved in an article as short as this.
There is nothing strange these days about developing actions through crowdsourcing, using geolocalisation to find a ride, altruistically subtitling a television series uploaded onto the internet, financing a project through crowdfunding, or socialising your business by publishing information that would certainly have been kept private a few years ago. The following question comes up time and again: how much of this reality arises from a willingness to cooperativise, narcissim, solitude or uncritical following of the digitalised mass?
A few years ago a polarising debate began between those who believed that were were heading towards an Einstein Society (Jeroen Boschma and Inez Groen), with better informed and better prepared people than ever before, or an I Society based on narcissism and an obsession with fame (Jean Twenge). I no not think that this debate resolved the question. Today all certainties have been dispelled, and it is less usual to make concrete claims about the technological area. We are unable to confidently deny that something will happen, no matter how strange it may seem to us, and it is very difficult to tell what will be the object of the digital society’s attention in the near future. Are we, then, looking towards a more confused future?
I will try to summarise, from a communications perspective, the effects and consequences for the sector of this so-called cooperativisation or integration through digitalisation.
- Grand dogmas have tended to dissolve. Now we are not certain about what is true and what is false, although it is possible that everything is working well for us and that we have a better sense of the truth. However, it has become more difficult for us to know when we have all the information we need.
- Gurus and leaders have changed their role. Now they do not speak from their ivory towers. They are found on social networks and media and are usually younger than the gurus of yesterday.
- Products are more unstable. What is popular today may be questioned or modified tomorrow. Sources are more relative.
- The audience is part of the communicative process. Before, the audience would simply receive. Now it constructs, models, modifies, sanctions.
- The channel has become multiple and collaborative. Facts do not arrive through one single path, and these multiple paths tend to collaborate to improve their effectiveness.
And, in this collaborative spirit, I ask you all to continue to define the affects that this reality is having on communication. Do you want to coparticipate?