Wow, I must say that I have jumped into social media head first this semester! Along with this course, I have Internet and American Life, which approaches social media from a research perspective, based on research conducted by Pew Research. As a marketing major, I think I made a great decision taking both courses. I would not have sought out all of this information on my own, however, I find it more interesting everyday (too much sucking up?) 🙂
One topic, or concept, that I found existed in each case has to do with increased innovation in a knowledge sharing environment. In all the cases we read, or heard, technology growth quickened as collaboration, and the sharing of information, became easier.
“A group of women shelling peas work at the same task, but their individual efforts are not co-ordinated. The same is true of a team of chess players. This is shown by the fact that the total amount of peas shelled and the total number of games won will not be affected if the members of the group are isolated from each other.
Consider by contrast the effect which a complete isolation of scientists would have on the progress of science. Each scientist would go on for a while developing problems derived from the information initially available to all. But these problems would soon be exhausted, and in the absence of further information about the results achieved by others, new problems of any value would cease to arise, and scientific progress would come to a standstill.”
Polanyi states that information should be shared, openly. He encourages the scientific and academic professionals to network with one another because, otherwise, they will all be “discovering” the same thing, at the same time. No great innovations will occur.
The inventors discussed in “Internet Underground” began their projects to improve collaboration for the sake of sharing information and advancing innovations in computer science and academia. Each saw a flaw in the current method or protocol that was stunting further growth and knowledge.
Tim Berners-Lee found that information was unable to be shared, due to all makes of computers speaking different languages. This sparked the idea that created our current protocol language. This was a huge milestone towards the Internet we all know because it opened the door for communication and, therefore, the exchange of knowledge.
Linus Torvalds began his project when Andrew Tanenbaum, creator of MINIX, refused to share his knowledge. With collaborating partners, Torvalds created Linux, which ended up being superior to MINIX. An extra kick in Tanenbaum’s face was when Torvalds decided to make Linux open source, meaning it was free to all. This innovation allowed everyone to enjoy their own internet server, pushing the Internet Revolution over the edge.
A second thought that came to mind is that each invention would not have been as impressive had it not been for others participating and spreading the innovation. These inventions, or situation in the case of the stolen phone, needed people to succeed. The telegraph, for example, was not the technological advancement of the century until more and more lines were added.
Some of you may remember when text messaging first appeared. If you were the only one of your friends with text message capabilities on your phone, how valuable was the service? How would you even use the service if no one you knew had it? It wasn’t until more and more friends jumped on the text train that it became the popular mode of communication that it is today.
In the reading It Takes A Village, Evan, in his pursuit for justice, needed his personal network to pass information to their network, who passed the information to their network, and so on. This is what started the movement that, eventually, returned Ivana’s phone and punished the wrong doers. What began as a single person, easily became millions because they all joined in something they believed in.
A third thought that kept popping into my head is that knowledge is power. In several management courses I’ve taken, we discuss the concept of power. Who has it, how did they get it, etc.? An example that is always given is that the IT department, in any company, has an enormous amount of power. This is because they control information and information is always a company’s greatest asset.
Starting with the telegraph, as soon as the technology was obviously taking off, the railroad company wanted to make sure they would be entitled to some of the power. Linux was invented because someone else refused to relinquish power. The NSA fought Whitfield Diffie because they would lose power. Ivana’s phone was returned because the power, from the massive number of people involved, forced the police to take action.
I learned quite a bit about the history of the telegraph and the Internet this week. Thanks to all of the innovators we learned about, I was able to complete this assignment from the comfort of my home, in my pajamas. 🙂