TA: Joanna Clarke
Question #1: Examine the ways in which electronic media have altered the nature of either the text..
The internet has come as an advent to a lot of professions and careers, courses and interchanges, communities and individuals. One thing has remained constant throughout the history of the internet, even up to this stage of broadbound connections that provide high data-stream rates and superior technology that allows live voice conversations. The overwhelming majority of communication is done through text, be it discussing a text, writing a text, or just conversing between two people. The internet has developed and altered text in such radical ways that some of us in society rarely imagine a world without these conveniences. Things such as instant communication with people through messaging systems such as ICQ and IRC; free use of mail through various web-based e-mail programs such as Hotmail and Yahoo; student papers that can be purchased and sold online; the complete and utter freedom to have your work placed unto the screens of millions upon millions of people worldwide. Through text-based programs called MUDs (Multi-user Dungeons), people intricately designed, detailed, and lengthy games using nothing but text. What might be a more astonishing product of the alteration of text on the internet is the language that has developed. All of these things have brought about a change in the way we see text in our everyday life.
NR: Our lives as teachers have been really changed by the
Internet and its advances. Do you think it's a positive
sense, like more access to information, rather than a
negative one, like more responsibility for us to learn?
DF: The Internet is changing and has changed things for many of us. I think it's, first of all, critical to realise that the majority of schools and teachers around the world do not have access to the Internet, because the infrastructure and the resources are not there. I know that this is essential in Brazil, in the United States, and in lots of countries in which I worked. So first of all, we have to acknowledge that with the internet we're still talking about a privileged group of people that have access to it. However the good change is the fact that information is much more, available and accessible, and this democratizes knowledge. For example, if you take something like a journal that's now on CD-ROM, you can search the whole darn thing so easily now. What would take hours to do now can be done quickly. (cup.org)
While the point is brought up that the people who use the internet are still a privileged few, the sheer amount of culture that can be received through communication over the internet is astounding. It has altered the basic format in which we communicate to one another, instantly exchanging ideas with someone thousands of miles away from us rather than having to wait for phone calls to go through, letters to be sent, etc. This is important to texts as it allows for the quick transfer of data to be adapted and used for a purpose. The internet also acts as one large warehouse of files, as anything you could possibly want to talk about, look up, or research on is out there at your fingertips ready to be plucked. This instant access to information and literature has swept into all aspects of society, but for texts the main focus can be placed on education. Having instant access to information for papers, references, and outlines in an unchecked environment can lead to almost a bastardization of the text.
The Internet can be a useful source of information for writing papers. However, because you might be using the same computer to search the Internet and write your paper, it is very easy to plagiarize web sites. But remember -- the Internet's convenience and ease-of-use means that your professor might also be using the Internet to see if you've plagiarized an online source. The Internet makes it easier to steal other's ideas and to get caught at it! All word and ideas that you use from other sources, electronic or print, must be documented. (wr.com)
Something that is constantly being brought to attention by people against the free flow of information the internet provides is the fact that it is unchecked and unregulated. The government has no control over what can be posted on the internet, so articles supporting terrorism can be posted, guides to make bombs can be distributed, and information can be encoded and sent out quickly and efficiently without interference. These are all extreme cases of this subject however and do not apply to the majority of communication over the internet. Something that does apply is language, as well as the text that is spawned from this language. As with any subculture, a new slang forms around these people, but oddly enough it is not much more than various abbreviations of words, or the sounding out of words that comprises this language, such as a laugh "kekekeke," or "k plz thnx" saying okay, please and thank you. This is similar to other forms of communication that become segregated to one particular set of society, such as ebonics.
Texts of actual works have not changed much, as they are still the same thing only being communicated through a different medium. What the internet provides is completely different languages to try and communicate and write your text into to possibly transmit the data more efficiently to the reader. This can be done through programming languages such as HTML, C+, and Java as well as graphical applications like Photoshop, Fireworks, and Flash that are able to manipulate and maneuver texts in ways which normal writing cannot. Unlike a standard printing pressed book, over the internet you can automatically format your text into thousands of different fonts - from Times New Roman to Romulan - sizes, colours, shapes, and alignments. This provides much greater versatility when conveying emphasis or just highlighting a point or two. Something amazing is the fact that online communities have started to truly grow, centred around a website's message board, an IRC channel, or a MUD. These communities may communicate in text with each other through various means and formats, all made possible by the internet's capabilities.
On the Internet, all this is possible. This has significant implications for journalism and other writing on the Internet. Journalists will have to be far more responsive to their readers, and they will be forced to be more in touch with their needs and requirements.
Lively discussions could ensue about particular issues; letters pages could become forums, where many more issues could be canvassed than is possible, for example, in one page of print. When a politician is quoted in a news item, the news service could include a ""what did you think"" interactive opinion page.
This would lead to a forum for opinions, where each citizen could see the remarks of others, and contribute to an ongoing debate, between other citizens and between citizens and their political representatives. Complex arguments could be put forward, and responded to by the politician the following day. (Library.austin.cc.tx.us)
It is clear that direct, instantaneous discourse over topics and texts provide greater feedback for the author. This allows future texts to become more improved and to expand beyond a once long period of very small interaction between all three aspects of the author, the reader, and the text. Through these communities, opinions and ideas are shared equally within the confines of that set community. Something very unique to the internet is the ability to belong to a limitless number of communities where you can constantly be involved and interacting with texts. It is not defined to the people in that city, or in a certain area of interest, but rather all of the peoples than inhabit the internet, which is a much larger interpretive community than one could possibly ever imagine.
Text continues to change through the advancement of the internet. As e-mail becomes a more popular alternative to sending postal mail, news is updated instantly across many major websites along with streaming video and detail analysis from varying viewpoints, and young ladies give out their ICQ numbers to interested men, the text of the internet will continue to grow and change.