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SOCIAL MEDIA, INTERNET CULTURE, AND THE SINGULARITY

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SOCIAL MEDIA, INTERNET CULTURE, AND THE SINGULARITY
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    15.954 Richard L. Wood Little 11 May 2011 SOCIAL MEDIA, INTERNET CULTURE, AND THE SINGULARITY  Trends in internet culture and social media show signs of interesting phenomena. Extrapolating these trends to the Singularity, we get remarkable, and potentially catastrophic, results. Such issues as the validity of internet-based information, reality, and spam come into play.  Wood 1 Why do humans communicate? What is the purpose of communicating a message from one person in such a manner that another (or others, plural) can understand the message and respond or act accordingly? In early times, it started as grunts. Guttural sounds to let fellow hunters know the whereabouts of prey and similar simple tasks. Then, came primitive language. It is believed that women developed the earliest form of oral speech, of a defined set of sounds, in order to communicate to one another different methods of gathering, taking care of children, healing the sick or injured. From there, the first forms of media sprouted. Neanderthal used various local objects in order to communicate messages to others, even when he was not physically present. This constitutes the first major break in media; t he means of relaying a message without the necessity of the primary source’s presence. Prior to this, communication required either direct verbal or physical forms that occurred in real time. The most outstanding form of this new breakthrough was the use ticks on animal bones. That means that man could now have a means to permanently communicate how many deer he had killed, or the time in between each hunting season. Man had the means of record. From that point forward, mad was infatuated with record. He thrived to communicate with others on a mass scale. He continually sought to expand his range of communication. Media went from symbols to drawings to writings. Writing was a huge step in mediums. Man could communicate to whomever he wanted (assuming they spoke the same language) regardless of location. However, he wasn’t satisfied. Next, he wanted to transcribe his voice and use it to deliver his message. Thus, audio recording and radio. Then, man wanted his audience to see him as well as hear. So he  Wood 2 developed video and television. To him, technology is always about delivering the message to more people, and quicker. Man’s shining moment, the epitome of his work, came during the very end of the 20 th  century. We now have technology that permits distant communication at a remarkable speed. With the dawn of the computer, came the emergence of a data system, reliant on the interconnected network of numerous users. The internet is the most prominent achievement in communication, and thus the most influential medium. The internet started as a wild, untamed creature. Forums, sites on which individuals could post comments visible to anyone who logged on to the site, were rampant and chaotic. The initial idea was to have a place on the internet that allowed for open, democratic discussions. Founders wanted to allow for free thought and free expression, longing for an intellectually stimulating mode of communication. At first, the dream became a reality. Posters would establish a topic, and a well formulated, insightful conversation would develop. However, as quickly as it began, it began to turn for the worse. Anonymous posters, believed to be mostly high school students, began accessing these forums. They soon began to spam the forums and fill them with their slapstick humor. This abuse  of the internet appalled a large number of previous repeat users, leading them to cease their postings. With the number of loyal users declining, the concentration of trolls (individuals who post obscene, obscure, and irrelevant materials in a forum  Wood 3 for the sole purpose of disturbing the established community) rapidly increased. Internet forums were out of control. Where once there was enlightening conversations on such topics as the economy or politics, was now a wasteland, a teenage  wasteland, of graphic anecdotes, random blurbs, and, in some cases, blatantly irrelevant and unintelligent images. The time of utopian  forums was gone. Site creators were left with three options. One was to delete the site, end the torment; destroy the garbage. This was quite often the case. Many once successful forums shut down after the onslaught of teenage   trolls. Left in disgust, administrators wanted no part of the emerging trend. Another option was to walk away from the site, wash their hands of it, and let the trolls have their way and roam free. This paved the way for spammers and trolls to have their own sites, and thus, by definition, no longer be trolls. These sites became junkyards of internet pop culture scraps . The most prevalent option, however, was to lock down their sites. They did this by creating users, moderators, and administrators; by establishing a hierarchy to regulate the trash, block the spammers, and eliminate the trolls. Due to the new system, users had to create an account and login in order to access the forum for posting and, in some cases, even reading. This was a complete one-hundred and eighty degree turn. No more free reign, no more free speech (without a login!).

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Jul 26, 2017
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