In this modern era, everything is heading (if it hasn’t already gone) in the way of the 1 and the 0. It’s a digital world we live in. Our books are backlit, our music is binary and the majority of our communications arrive in 140 characters or less. Sure, at times it may be a nuisance; it could quite possibly cause us all to question the direction of humanity from time to time – but when it comes down to it, this is the reality, and it doesn’t come without a little excitement. The advancements of this time could prove to be more drastic than any in history, but only time will tell. Unless we tell first…
UP – Digital Voice
It goes beyond popular video-chatting software, such as Skype and Google video. The technology to transmit our calls via the internet is gradually taking over the traditional analog phone lines. A voip phone system (voice over internet protocol) is much more affordable, customizable and versatile than a traditional phone system. The trend is taking hold not just in people’s homes but in the corporate world as well. Suddenly, companies do not need to fly their executives to Tokyo twice a year, they can simply set up a video call over a voip phone system and the meeting is held across the internet.
DOWN – The Social Net
It may be a network, but for the vast majority of users, it’s more akin to a net. Call it The Book, or Instaworld, or the Twitterverse, but it all describes the same thing: a mass amount of people chatting to each other in some sort of electronic language, either through digital images, hyperlinks, videos, gifs, or simply through words. The power of social networks can be staggering, when it is used as a power, otherwise, it becomes a forum for most of us to waste time, entertain ourselves and voice our unsolicited opinions on topics that don’t have enough weight to be discussed in an actual forum.
UP – Accessibility
After a short period of time, YouTube dominated the visual world of the internet. A few competitors (read: copycats) developed their own video sharing sites, but none have become – not ever will become – as large as the self-broadcast magnate. It’s how rare moments are shared, amateur talent is discovered, propaganda is spread and the actions of countless cats and babies are immortalized. Think of the most obscure quote from your favorite childhood movie. Chances are, it’s hosted on this site and it’s chopped into a perfectly dissectible length so you can add it as a sound byte to your Facebook comment.
DOWN – Accessibility
Justin Bieber happens to be one of those aforementioned “amateur talents” that was discovered via YouTube - proof that the site can in fact do harm. The very fact that there is now a forum for all of the idiotic things we humans (and our pets) can do, suddenly has spurned us to aspire to even greater levels of idiocy. Each user is trying to up the ante, desperately trying to create a video that so captures the fickle internet to launch them into 15 minutes of national fame. They will get mentioned on Tosh.0, linked on Reddit and maybe even brought into Good Morning America if their story is good enough. The only problem is, they are forgotten as soon as they are remembered and have very little to show for their fleeting fame.
UP – Kickstarting
People have Ideas. They are everywhere, scribbled on the back of cocktail napkins, written hastily in the margin of a notebook, or (more likely) saved as a draft in one’s gmail. What websites like Kickstarter do is give those ideas a jumping off point. The accessibility mentioned above is applied to inventions, and this time, the crowd decides before the idea takes flight. Yes, it may be a scary amount of power for thousands of strangers, but chances are, they will support the ideas that truly deserve it. Once the ideas have been approved by enough people, another invention is created, the creator realizes a dream and people who have demonstrated that need are now satisfied.
The End Game
In the digital age, it’s all about the group mentality. It’s about streamlining the world we live in and making everything more accessible to the masses. Whether that manifests itself in a voip phone system or an application that lets teenagers send self-destructing pictures, well, then so be it. There are two sides to every coin, and since the internet can in fact do so much good, we must be willing to accept the bad.