The Great Empowerment Machine

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Certain human creations are unique in their provision of user empowerment. Communication is often the common gift provided by these machines and we easily trace the series of improvements through certain technologies. In many of the ways the printing press gave way to a mail system (to deal with slow speed), the telephone replaced the telegraph and now the internet sweeps in to the role of dominant communication medium. User empowerment is the common thread of all technologies but as communication technologies have evolved there was slowly developed a new depth of empowerment wherein a user actively engages with the technology to affect society.Where older technologies performed a social role, the internet has created a forum wherein individuals can use their gadgets to rock the social foundations.

Just as we can trace the evolution of communication technology via specific devices so to can we observe certain individuals whose use of communication technology uses new levels of empowerment. In these figures we see a common desire of broad outreach and a recognition that communication technology provides access to the audience. Just as all performers seek out a large audience, figures interested in “broadcasting” their message seek out areas (in this case technologies) that best serve this need. Herein we have an indirect indicator of which technologies are significant: if an individual interested in making big waves chooses “Technology X” we can rest assured he or she has spent time considering the best communication avenue and in making their selection indicates “X” to be the most efficient format.

The internet is unique in its broad capability to communicate on a large scale at extremely low prices. As Jonathan Zittrain and others have noted, one of the most revolutionary features of the internet is the low cost of access and utilization. Unlike previous technologies the internet provides relatively affordable access to a huge and growing population.With the internet we see a new batch of revolutionaries seeking out an audience. I won’t mention names in this post, but many of these figures have emerged in just the last six months. So rich is the internet’s capability of providing broad access that we see the feature of viral content where a small piece of media takes hold of the population and attains a major audience.In many ways this ability is exactly what a revolutionary wants and in fact needs to attain their intended role.

Unlike other technologies that improved human communication, the internet is the great empowerment machine to all citizens. With minor costs of utilization and access to a broad audience the internet is an ideal medium for anyone interested in reaching a massive audience. We can trace this trend in the actions of those craving our attention: if a revolutionary chooses the internet to broadcast a message it is the internet that is the dominant communication platform of our time.

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