[I observe that many people are resistant to the idea of theory. They seem to think that a theory is something separate from the real world; that it is something professors make up to sound important when they really know nothing. I won’t comment on what professors know or do not know, but please try to think of a theory (or its close sibling, a concept) as an idea that helps us to understand, to predict, and to rationally influence the real world.]
So far in the term we have addressed several important concepts associated with new information technologies (NITs). To refresh your memory, here are links to some relevant entries on our weblog: Open source and collaborative production; Conversational media and participatory journalism, and Networks and conversational media.
All these ideas connect back to the key features of new information technologies we identified at the beginning of the term, that they are:
- Computer-readable format
- Instantly (electronically) transmittable
- Can be reproduced exactly
- All actions can be traced
- Multiply connected (many-to-many communication is possible, rather than just the commercial broadcast, one-to-many model of communication)
- Peer relationships are possible (rather than just hierarchical relationships)
- Communication is two-way
- It is possible to allow multiple users to create and edit information stored somewhere else
The way NITs work makes it possible for people to create technologies (such as weblogs and wikis) that communities can use to engage with one another in new and different ways. Let me emphasize, it is possible for this to happen, but not necessarily the case.
In order for NITs to promote new kinds of community relationships, the specific technologies at hand must be designed to take advantage of the technological potential available to them, and communities of people must be both able and willing to use those potentials.
Consider these thoughts in relation to weblogs, wikis, or other NITs you may have used. What does your experience suggest?