Week 5 | Digital Technology Gives Power to the Little Guy
Posted by Natalie Rausch
Social media and personal computers at every work space has cut out a lot of middle men and shifted power from a few big entities to many individuals. It is a fundamental shift and the overarching theme between Spilka and Qualman readings this week.
Many people have heard how online news and content is quickly diminishing the viability of printed newspapers and magazines. Readership of printed newspapers has declined. People don’t have to wait for the news to break, be printed, and get distributed. Even more, social media is changing who is distributing the news.
Qualman features a hypothetical news story example involving the car accident of a U.S. senator from Idaho. Both a popular newspaper conglomerate in New York a local political enthusiast blogger cover the story. In the end, more people probably read this news from the blogger than the news source because the blogger knew more about the local senators, was able publish the news online faster, and offered her content free. Her friends read the blog post, and her friend’s friends keep passing the word on. People get news with less of a middle man like a news organization. It is an interesting case study that shows the power may be shifting to bloggers. Qualman (p. 12) states that newspapers can’t just get by on delivering news to stay viable. Instead, the newspaper must provide analysis and commentary.
I have to note, however, that the reputation of the newspaper must have some merit. I would more likely click on the newspapers link on the story than the bloggers link on the story. I might not have guessed the blogger to be a credible source on the topic. If I could not read an article because a subscription was required, I’d search for another name in news who was delivering the news story for free.
I appreciated Table 1.1 (Spilka p. 24-25), but I would have understood the example faster if I would have known who the large employer was. I wasn’t sure at first what point the table was trying to make, being that the technical communicator’s role in a large corporation has changed drastically since the 1970s. My guess is the table is a case study of IBM because the company went from making mainframe computer systems to PCs to networks and databases like Watson, the supercomputer.
Spilka reviewed how technology has fundamentally changed the role of the technical communicator. I believe technology has changed every field of work, nonetheless, Spilka made an important point. Before personal computers desktop publishing, communication would have to go through a lengthy production process. But now, the power shifted from a technical communicator who could not produce communication to a technical communicator who could do it all—create and produce.
By being able to do it all, so to speak, bloggers and technical communicators can reach niche markets and small interest groups like never before. Traditional media’s content like TV and newspapers is generated by only a few and is good for reaching the masses. On the other hand, internet’s content is generated by many. Social media has created a huge shift in information holders and distributors (Qualman, p. 11). People are web authors through wikis, they develop micro content with blogs, and interface in an online software applications, thus cutting out the middle man TV or newspaper distributing the content. Like never before, an individual has power and influence.
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