Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What happens when new forms of communication arise?

Whenever there's a change in communication, whether it be as far back as the British postal system or the telephone, or as recent as Web 2.0 and social media, there's a resistance, not just on the part of businesses, which this article refers to primarily, but on the part of those involved in any sort of organization or institution.

In the article referred to, Tammy Erickson notes several predictable results that occur whenever there is a reduction in the cost of communications, as there have been in each instance of improvement. These were proposed by Harold Adams Innis, as far back as 1951.
  • Redistributing knowledge and, in doing so, shifting power
  • Making it easier for "amateurs" to compete with "professionals," because access to knowledge substitutes for mastery of complexity
  • Allowing individuals and minorities to voice ideas
  • Reducing the advantages of speed that formerly accrued because some had knowledge before others
  • Reducing the advantages of size that are based on the ability to afford high costs.
How do these 'predictions' line up with the way the institutional church works?

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